BVA Chairman’s Report, AGM 2012

The Annual General Meeting of the Beech Village Hall and Recreation Ground Management Committee was held on Friday 25th October 2012 in the Village Hall. The following is an extract of the report presented by Chairman Nick Charman.

Following Peter Cox’s resignation as Chair of the Trustees, I was asked and then elected as Chair in the spring of this year.  This then is my first report to the Annual General meeting as Chair.

As I only moved to the area in late 2009, when Stella and I were so welcomed by our neighbours at events like the Village Social, we both felt encouraged to “put something back” into the community. I hope that we are doing that with, among other things, my small contribution to the workings and management of the Hall. It is a small charity, and provides services of immense value to this community.  I strongly believe that buying the “house in a nice location” is one step, but having a strong, supportive and friendly environment and neighbours makes that house a real home.

Since the last AGM, at which Peter Cox reported the plans for the then coming period, much building work has been completed in the Annexe.  The Hall Maintenance team has recently been battling the problem of continued damp in the Annexe meeting room, and has now had it re-roofed.  The initial signs are encouraging, and we have just redecorated it, the lavatory and entry hall, and as such this area is now in good condition, and available for use.

The surface of the car park entry has been repaired (for the time being at least), and signs have been erected following the latest Licence terms, to limit late night noise and disturbance.  We are even, now, the proud possessors of a flagpole! The lighting at the Hall has proved unreliable recently, and this has received attention.

Thanks are due to the Building Maintenance team (Tom Thomas and Ian Gibson) for their ongoing work, care and attention. Also they are assisted by volunteers from the village from time to time when a “many-hands” job needs doing – so thanks to them also.

The Social Committee use the Hall as the hub of their activities, and this year has seen many events  for the local community, including the regular monthly “Socials”, the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Fete and Hog Roast, the Christmas Fair and Christmas Party, a Pub Games night, a musical evening with Gordon Giltrap, a Murder Mystery evening and of course the November fireworks celebrations, and others.  The weather this year was not on our side for the Fete!

The research work entailed in the recent Village Plan showed that there was  a demand for  more engagement with the younger end of Beech society; the Social Committee have taken note of this and have started to consider younger people in the nature and pricing of events.

This Social Committee succeeds through the efforts of John Tomalin, Peter Frost, Elaine King, Stella Charman, Sally Cox and Sarah Castle Smith.  Their energy and work is very much appreciated  – in small part because of the modest financial surpluses that the events often generate, but mostly because a main raison d’etre for the Hall is as a glue. A glue that makes Beech into a community, rather than a location, and these Social events are very valuable indeed for that.  We must also express gratitude for the food for the Socials, which is a lovely contribution of various great cooks, who don’t mind a spot of mass catering occasionally.  In this connection too, I want to mention the ongoing reliable, quiet, efficient and always friendly work of Alan and Elaine King who run the mini-business of the Hall’s bar – keeping it stocked, and handling the equipment, pricing, and of course the bar work.   This too is very much appreciated.

We have just lost another helper particularly for our parties and childen’s events, in the form of Paul  Fleming. Paul and Gillian have moved out of Beech now, and Paul’s energy with lighting and music, and the Christmas parties was fantastic, and will be missed.

The Hall Hire has fared well in the past year, and has seen an underlying growth in revenues of 15%.  Although the total revenue appears to have dipped slightly in relation to the previous year, this is because of an unusual source of revenue in that previous year – in that the car park was then let for local building works parking. Hall hire is a main financial plank of the funding for the Hall and its recent refurbishment.

The Hall as a location for hire is very good value, and well equipped. This makes it popular for the community, for its private parties and celebrations, as well as being a resource of the local clubs and societies, local small business, for meetings and presentations.  Bridge, dance, pilates, art, embroidering, band practice and toddler groups enjoy their regular activities at the hall.  The Parish Council also have their monthly meetings here.

The decorative and floral work of those using the hall for the weddings have shown how this can be made a really charming venue for this purpose, combined with the use of marquee on the ground by the Hall. The lovely location of the hall surrounded by greenery, with the backdrop of pretty Hampshire thatched cottages has grown in popularity for wedding receptions, christenings, and parties.  Many of our wedding hirers love the oak entrance and internal oak beams that enhance the ‘themes’ of their celebrations.  The kitchen is very modern and fully equipped to cater for all needs for up to 120 guests.  Don’t forget that local Beech villagers will benefit from a 25% reduction in the published hire rates. 

Cheryl Thomas has been a very busy manager of the Hall Hiring, but has now been reluctantly allowed to take a back seat in this regard.  Our thanks must go to her for her sterling work in this job over recent years. Her resignation from the Trustee body is to be accepted at this AGM. Peter Cox (my predecessor as Chair of the Management Committee) will now be main contact point for Hall Hire.  He will now lead the Hall Hire, and we also welcome Nikki Tomalin who is stepping in to assist in this role.  Ironically we will also be accepting Peter’s formal resignation as a Trustee at this AGM, but his ongoing assistance, experience and wisdom at Management meetings and his involvement will be much appreciated.


The Hiring of the Hall and the Social events rely on the inside of the Hall being clean, and with all its catering equipment in order and in place.  As you will imagine this does not happen of its own accord and Malcolm Grace has kindly taken over stewardship of this aspect in recent months.   Our thanks must also go to Malcolm for this contribution.

The Financial Results for the Charity, for the year to 30th June 2012 are to be recommended for adoption at this AGM.

In summary these show a surplus of £11,585 for the period.  As mentioned above our revenue in the later period did not benefit from the one-off parking revenue which was gained in the prior year.  In addition the Running Costs latterly included greater expense in terms of Rates, Cleaning and Maintenance costs.  To generate a surplus is vital, as this is the source of funds for the ongoing improvement of the Hall, and for making repayments to the Charity bank, for the loan funding which enabled the Hall’s refurbishment. Phil Ladds continues to provide his services in the role of Treasurer, which is sincerely appreciated, and thanks also go to Chuffy Hunter for his role in auditing these financial statements.

Future Plans

As we have now achieved an excellent facility in terms of the building fabric, clearly this must be maintained at a high standard, and improved as funds allow, where necessary. Following the Village Plan work, in particular I believe that a Children’s Play Area is in the wind, and the land of the Village Hall is an obvious place for this.  It would require planning and risk assessment, as well as funding. All of this will be considered when it is presented to the Committee.

I am keen that the community has access to the Hall, and knowledge of it, and work can be done to improve the communications for the Hall and its activities.  The village website, posters, flyers and the Village Newsletter are all valuable tools in communications, but engagement with the local community can be improved. To that end I should like to see a new member of the Management Committee to take that role on.  This is a good place to ask that if you know a member of the community who might be prepared to assist in this way, and who has some marketing, research and communications experience, I should be pleased to have an informal chat in the first place.

We must have a flow of people to assist with running this Hall, and to allow succession of the various roles, to make sure that the Hall is not just a building – but is a vibrant mini enterprise and social centre, and involving many Beech inhabitants.  This will both share the burden, and make it lighter.  We have a lot of skills in the local community to call on, and I shall be continuing to encourage my neighbours to join in, helping the Hall.

I would like to thank the other Management Committee and Trustees for their support and wisdom, who are: Peter Frost, Alan King, Elaine King, Tom Thomas, Cheryl Thomas, Malcolm Grace, and Ian Gibson.  We are also very lucky to have acquired the help of Sheron Gillard who used to act as our Parish Council Secretary – so she knows the village well, and now she’s helping us with the minutes of meetings, secretarial matters and generally keeping us in order!

If you ever wish to ask a question about the Hall, have any suggestions for us, or wish to help, please call me (563046), or any of the Committee that you know.

Nick Charman