ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING - 2000
BBC Monitoring Service - Caversham Park
Saturday 25th November 2000
An account of another milestone event in our Branch history follows the
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The estate that is now home to BBC Monitoring was registered in
the Domesday Book. The entry describes a property of 2,400 acres worth
£20. Property prices have risen a little since! Historical
highlights include use of a former house on the site to hold King Charles the
First, a visit in 1783 by the future president of America, Thomas Jefferson and
occupation of the present house by the Oratory School from 1923 - 1941. A
memorial chapel built to commemorate former pupils who gave their lives in the
Great War remains a feature of the present property and close by the entrance
are the graves of some who fell.
BBC Monitoring, which had been created shortly before the Second
World War to provide an insight into the information being given to their
populations by the German government and others, moved to Caversham in the
Spring of 943.
Bob Harrison, himself a former 'Y' man, was kind enough to give
members a fascinating insight into the way that Caversham and BBC Monitoring
have grown and evolved since those early days. It was plain that the
Centre has a vital role to play in providing information from a wide range of
public broadcasting media to British diplomats, policy makers and other
customers in a palatable, authoritative and invariably impartial and objective
The scope and nature of the operation was described in some
detail, supported by an excellent video. It was quite clear that an
enormous challenge in identifying, prioritizing, recording and reporting a
staggering range of source material is accomplished daily by BBC
Monitoring without fuss or fanfare. Good planning, technical excellence
and a highly professional staff combine to make the task seem effortless.
It was clear though that it would be anything but to anyone faced with
replicating the service that is now provided and sustained day in and day out by
Caversham staff and colleagues elsewhere year round.
Tam Frize and Danny Keyes, two more 'Y' veterans who also serve
on the Technical Support staff, cheerfully assisted with guided tours of the
operations area, exhibiting tremendous knowledge and enthusiasm while doing
so. The privilege of seeing into a unique area of nationally important
work was greatly appreciated. Members will appreciate the time and trouble
taken to make us welcome for a long time to come.
Annual General Meeting
The Meeting followed the prescribed order of events and
contained no particular surprises. Eighteen members of the Branch were
present. A good number for a wet and windy Saturday in November.
It's an unfortunate fact that constitutional conditions dictate the timing, but
During the Act of Remembrance members were asked particularly to
remember Ellen Whittles, our Chairman's mother and a wartime member of the ATS,
who had passed away recently; John (Guy) Underwood, beloved son of Derek and
Betty Underwood and Anne Staveley, a Branch member known to many who
served long and well with the WRVS in both Birgelen and at Chicksands
In the main body of the meeting Our Chairman managed proceedings
very well, particularly in keeping the session down to just over one hour.
It comes as no surprise therefore to reveal that he was re-elected. This
was the case for the other Branch officers too. It was remarked that two
committee members, Steve Miller and Ian Copeland had been obliged to resign
because their professional commitments had become too great. An offer to
join the committee from Pete Derrick was approved unanimously.
There was some discussion of the various issues that currently
confront the Royal British Legion. These include reviews of the
arrangements for Annual Conference and the Royal Charter. On the subject
of Annual Conference, our Chairman, Terry Whittles was approved as the Branch
delegate to Conference 2001, which will be held in Bournemouth. On the
same subject, members approved submission of a draft Motion to national
organisers suggesting that the government drop plans to cut the period for which
expatriates retain British voting rights from 20 years to 10. We will see
if it is approved to go into the Conference agenda proper in due course.
In his report our Chairman explained that he had recently
attended the first meeting of members of the new Association of National
Branches (St James's, BEWSA, Garats HaY and the Gulf War Veterans). (Webmaster's
Comment: He didn't mention that his tremendous energy and commitment to
Legion work had been recognised in his appointment to chair the Group - but our
Vice Chairman John Clark did!).
Other officers' reports produced no surprises and it was
confirmed, importantly, that the Branch accounts had been passed by auditors and
certified correct as at 30th September. As had the Chairman, several
officers made the point that it was important to maintain recruiting
momentum. Membership continued to rise steadily, standing at 307 on the
day of this AGM, but more members would be welcome and the pool of eligible folk
had hardly been tapped.
It was confirmed that next year's AGM will take place in
Loughborough on the Saturday of Remembrance Weekend and be part of a now
familiar package of events surrounding the annual Service of Remembrance at St
Mary in the Elms, Woodhouse.
The date of the next Branch meeting will be Saturday, July the
7th. Various venues were being considered. They included Duxford,
Cosford, Shenley, Kedleston Hall and London, where research was being done to
locate the Royal Navy's famous 'Room 40'.