That stands for the South West Counties Joint Consultative Committee. It is formed by delegates from the various BKAs in the region and is a non-executive talking shop. There were two dozen of us present at the Old Barn Owl at Westport, on the Somerset levels north of Ilminster and, unusually for a gathering of beekeepers, only three of us had beards! Ok, 6 were ladies, so they’re excused, but 15 beardless beekeeping blokes is odd. One had a moustache though.
The principal business of the day, apart from natter, networking and lunch, was to go through the papers for the Annual Delegates’ Meeting to be held in January. I represent Dorset there. First the candidates for the various offices were discussed one by one and I have the impression that, occasionally, tongues were bitten. Ruth Homer left the room while we talked about her. She must have been worried as it was ages before her husband was sent to bring her back! We had actually spend about 15 seconds on her, but the chat diverged onto other things.
Then we went through the propositions, the most controversial of which was that to raise the subs yet again. We learned that BBKA membership, currently about 24,400 has peaked and is down 200 on last year. There are two motions concerning financial governance and it is to be hoped that they will correct the nonsensical current practice of discussing the budget for the year when it is already a quarter through!
We took a lunch break. I think the pub may have changed hands as there was no local draught beer, so I drank Guinness. The staff were struggling to get the food to us all but they managed and it was excellent.
After lunch we had a powerpoint presentation by Jane Moseley, the BBKA General Secretary, on the BBKA Present and Future. I stayed awake nearly all the time but others nodded. Powerpoints are not good for a elderly audience after a good lunch: when the lights go down, so do the eyelids! Struggling to read my notes: there needs to be some succession planning to encourage younger people to join the Trustees (the Executive). Staffing and salaries were mentioned and the need for a database manager. They have had 5,000 calls about bees in the last year! Their web site had half a million hits!
Jane is concerned that much of the BBKA’s history has been lost (thrown away!) and she has nothing older than 10 years and is appealing for people who have old BBKA stuff to donate it. I have several boxes and drawers that I must go through to see whether I can dump a car load on her at the ADM. Much of it came from Roy Page who taught me back in the 70s.
There was discussion of insurance. Members are covered for £10,000,000. There was a query about Junior Members who might activate a claim and Jane promised to seek clarification from the insurers.
There is to be a trade event at Stoneleigh in March, and the Spring Convention will be at Harper Adams University in Shropshire again. I am wondering whether the BBKA still needs its grand and expensive premises at Stoneleigh. OK it’s central, but doesn’t have the prestige it once did as the Royal Show is no more. The trade event will doubtless be held elsewhere on the site. The ADM is held in the pub down the road and the Spring Convention is hundreds of miles away. Ok we will still need storage and office space, but there could be some working from home. There was no Forum this year, which did, last year, use the hall, but there was a Chairmen’s meeting which I guess used it and there will be one of each next year but for 2 meetings a year, they may as well use the pub again. What do you think?