Like Christmas it only happens once a year but you sometimes get the feeling we've been planning for it all year round. Last year we had it in Morden so this year we decided to hold it in Wimbledon and our Chairman Rev Andrew Wakefield was delighted, as it was only a short trot for Rosie his very obedient pet and admirer. So they arrived with time to spare and even decided to start the meeting on time.
We quickly skipped over the apologies and welcomed Muriel Martin, Director of MVB to the meeting,but more later. At great speed the Chairman launched into the nitty gritty of the Annual Report. Whilst delighted with the commitment of the Volunteers he was anxious about the hold ups at Ravensbury Mill. Although our Vice Chair Nicholas Hart, Solicitor has produced the draft lease we are unable to sign it until the outstanding section 106 works have been completed by the Developer. On our funding front our HLF Bid 3 although well advanced and only 4 weeks away from submission has taken a knock back when a new Officer (Old Officer disappeared on Maternity leave) suddenly announced she wanted a competitive tender from our architects, after letting them do all the ‘free' work and having previous sanction to do so! We are not impressed. However we will soldier on and continue with the mother of battles with HLF for funding. The prize awaiting us is Ravensbury Mill with a 125 year peppercorn lease and a further pomise of full charity rate relief by the Council is worth the fight.
"Imagine by the Wandle side, an old walled garden; on the banks, low roofed worksheds and a water wheel; long strips of printed cotton rinsing in the stream, great hanks of fresh yarn from the indigo vat drying in the air; dyers and printers moving quietly about -all a sunlit picture of a most peaceful work." Lewis Day, The Art Journal 1899
Ellen Eames then presented us with the accounts, her first as Treasurer, confessing to not liking public speaking. She said that due to Battersea Boatyard donation we had increased our income, and at the same time we had reduced our outgoings! Thanks Ellie.
Nicholas then got on to the main business of the meeting and showed us the working file which he had to hold with both hands!! which represented the hard work involved in producing all the documentation necessary to satisfy The Investors in Volunteers programme. Thanks were given to Maureen Watson for steering us through it, and to Sheila and all the Volunteers, Eric, Derek, Aurial , and everyone who had given their support.
Muriel Martin, Director of Merton Volunteer Bureau then congratulated The Wandle Industrial Museum for winning the Award. Less than half of the Participants had completed the course and she said it would help us with future funding. Certainly it will help us with the HLF campaign. Our Chairman accepted the Award on behalf of the Museum.
Our Chairman then gave special Heart to Hart thanks to The Hart family for their exceptional voluntary support. Nicholas for not only securing a £4200 donation but for piloting the Investor in Volunteer programme. Mary for looking after our membership and feeding the 5000 with her cordon bleu skills and Michael who took us into the 21st Century by setting up our web site. There's no doubt this family is all Hart.
Final thanks were given to our Sheila and Muriel Martin and they we said it with flowers. Andrew gave a Hearty thanks to all our Volunteers. PS Thanks Andrew.
During the break, Meg ran around with the raffle tickets, and we collected about £70, which covered our expenses for the night. Thanks everyone.
After a break to tuck into the cheese board, and the delicacies provided by Mary, we sat down for a talk by Dave Saxby of Molas. A slide showing taking us through the last 15 years of excavations at the Merton Priory site we now call Merton Abbey Mills demonstrated not only how much has been done, but how much more there could be to come. Under pressure from John Hawkes of Merton Heritage, we were pleased to hear Dave confirm that the new edition of the Merton Priory booklet should soon be with us.
At 10.30 there were carriages and doggybags. Today we start planning for next year.