We had our first Council meeting since the AGM of the Dorset BKA a few days ago. Our Chair, Lesley Gasson, pointed out that most of the officers belong to the Dorchester & Weymouth BKA and a few people are doing many of the jobs. It was her ambition to bring in fresh blood and to spread the load, preferably including some other branches. She read a list, the first four of which had my name against them: Website Manager, BBKA Delegate, Delegate to the SW Counties Joint Consultative Committee and Membership Secretary.
I was glad to lose the website. I started it about a decade ago, using a ‘freeby’ site courtesy of Lord Northcliffe, but that facility was removed a few years ago and we were forced to use the BBKA’s blueprint, which I have never really got on with, often having to talk on skype with Steve Turner, the BBKA technocrat, on the PC while following his instructions on the laptop. Every branch now has its own site, many of them much better than ours so it is no longer as necessary and clearly there are members who are able to make a much better job of it than I have been able to. I expect soon to be contacted by the person taking over who’s name I don’t recall and face I can’t picture. He wasn’t at the meeting.
It is with mixed feelings that I surrendered being ‘Mr Dorset’: the county’s delegate to the BBKA Annual Delegates’ Meeting and to the Forum. I have been going to the ADM since the 1980s, first as an observer with Eddy and Margaret Massey and then taking over as Delegate. In the early days the meetings were held in London before the move to Stoneleigh. It is a long drive, often in adverse weather conditions as the ADM is now held in mid-winter. They have gone back, illogically, to discussing the budget for the year when the relevant year started some months earlier. I first complained about this over 20 years ago,when Mr Hewitson was the Treasurer. Angela West, when she took over the treasury, sorted the problem out and so we were able to discuss the budget in advance of the year so we were able sensibly to discuss and, if necessary, modify the proposals before they became faits accompli. In recent years the BBKA has been juggling with the start dates of their financial year and so we are, effectively, back to square one in that respect. The most recent ADM was total chaos when proposals were voted down and the Executive went into extraordinary convulsions to get their proposals through.
What I enjoyed most about the ADMs was the networking with other delegates from around the country. It was thus that I met with ‘Mr Kent’, Brian Palmer, and asked if I could join his Bee Tours abroad, which got me to Slovenia and to Portugal before they were discontinued. On the return journey from Stoneleigh I would often take a break to visit a friend in Gloucestershire whom I got to know through the County Surveyors’ Society Rights of Way Group. I used to Chair (having invented!) the Legal Sub Group and Lindsay was a member, being at various times a Rights of Way Officer in S.Glos, Avon and also working for the Planning Inspectorate at Bristol before they were sent elsewhere. Her daughter, Heather, is now about 18 years old and I knew her long before she was born! I expect I shall see Lindsay occasionally if my return from the Spring Convention fits in with her work and equestrian schedule. On one occasion I went to the FIBKA Summer School at Gormanston by train and ferry and Lindsay, (who was living near Bristol at the time) kindly put me up and ferried me to the station and collected me on my return.
I have also been replaced on the SWCJCC by the new Delegate, Liz Rescorla. This is a ‘talking shop’ with no executive powers but can be quite influential as it covers about a quarter of the BBKA membership and has numerous current or former high officials of the BBKA among its membership. Again, it is a valuable ‘networking’ opportunity, as well as a good pub lunch not too far from home, so I might just tag along as an observer.
The one position that I retain is that of Membership Secretary, which simply consists of being ‘piggy in the middle’ between the BBKA and the branches. This means that the BBKA has only about 50 County Secretaries to deal with rather than about 300 branch secretaries.