Last Wednesday marked the end of the 2018 season of events and the start of a whole new year. With almost 60 members already signed up for 2019 and an audience of around the same number, 2019 has started very well. Neil’s presentation attracted a lot of interest with all its local connections and the 2018 is best summed up by the Chairman’s Report:
Twenty-five years ago this week the inaugural meeting of this society was convened. We have come a long way since then with significant milestones along the way and now it falls to me to summarise what has been a most successful and extraordinary year for the society.
This time last year we had a varied and interesting programme prepared, culminating in recognition of the centenary of the end of World War 1. Pamela planned a project for the latter which was to compile a roll of honour of all those from the parish who served in the war and to identify the social impact on the remaining inhabitants.
We really had no concept at that stage of just how many men and women served, or the wealth of stories and anecdotes we would uncover. Along with Pamela the rest of the team invested huge chunks of time on research and correlating and compiling the results. As it became apparent we had a real story to tell we sought to get support from the community and the authorities, not always successfully.
At this stage we realised that this could become a true community event, bringing the story of Slimbridge at war to today’s inhabitants. The event we planned would be centred on the church and the village hall, would be funded entirely by the society, and the proceeds would go to church funds. This concept gathered pace and contributors. The school, the Slimbridge Singers and a huge list of individuals donated their time, materials and effort and, there it might of ended, had not fate played a hand. We could not have afforded the village hall fees being suggested for the event and Reverend Boon stepped in to allow us to use the church’s allocation of free days. Surely the sort of support which should be offered to all true community events in this venue.
A casual chat on the morning dog walk saw Jackie Lantelli offering her skill as a sculptor and a weekend for Lucy with her old mentor Jane Lomas, a BBC Series Producer, saw our project grow very quickly from local to national prominence. From here on in we were in uncharted territory.
Film crews arrived, social media activity escalated, and the scope and size of our research team grew. We coordinated the various individuals and organisations coming on board just as the timeline tightened.
I don’t need to tell you the end result, you could hardly miss it. From start to finish the event created bedlam. There was no controlling it, we just had to go with the flow. Pat Cope’s refreshment team met and exceeded all expectations on day one and the flow of donated cakes and volunteers to serve, just about sustained their efforts until the Monday night. Requests for help with traffic management fell on deaf ears and the police showed up at the end of the day after everything was dying down to take a few pictures. Thanks.
I could list any number of parishioners who chipped in to help but I would be in danger of leaving someone out. You know who you are, thank you. With all the razzmatazz it would have been easy to be distracted from our objective, but I am pleased to say we had enormous interest and feedback in our exhibits and displays drawing people quite literally from all over the country and on social media, all over the world. We have compiled our results and they will be a legacy for the future. We have successfully worked with the school and the singers and would plan to do so again in the future. Financially we raised around £6,500 for church funds and managed to work within our own society budget.
I will finish with a word for our committee and helpers. You will only see a fraction of what they contribute. Whether it is skilful research, management of images and documents, control of the accounts, dealing with the media, social and broadcast, providing their memorabilia for display or simply laying out the chairs tonight and providing the refreshments, we can’t function as a society without their generous support. We have a challenging and interesting programme for 2019 and we look forward to your continuing participation.