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Saturday, January 12, 2008


7.30pm TUESDAY 8th JANUARY 2008

1. Apologies for absence were received from Scott who has a Locksmiths exam in Northampton, Kay, who has the flu, and Debbie who has work commitments. Ruth was unable to make the meeting after her husband’s car broke down near Newmarket.

2. In attendance were Dick, Rosie, Morag, Les, Trish, Alex, Tony, Liliane, Peter, Barry, Stephen and Dave. A special welcome back to Les who had been missing from the ranks for quite a long time.

3. Secretary's report on 2007

The Felixstowe Scribblers:

Thanks were relayed to everyone who has helped at Scribblers throughout the year and to all members for attending so many meetings and helping to provide really enthralling evenings with their passion for our shared interest, writing. For some the year has been exciting, for others their have been disappointments but the New Year will hopefully be kinder and lucrative to all.

2007 was a quieter year than anticipated. Once again proceedings were overshadowed by the loss of one of our much respected friends, Allen Williams, who died from cancer.

Membership remained quite healthy throughout the year with an average attendance around 15 a meeting. It is always disappointing to see some members fall by the wayside due to other commitments and interests, whilst some have suffered illness and operations, but to our credit there has been an influx of exciting new and talented writers to help defray our losses. Of course not everyone is able to attend regularly but the uniqueness of Felixstowe Scribblers means that membership, however infrequent the visits, remains open to all for as long as they wish.

During the year we saw the Bill Budner Competition launched with cash prizes kindly donated by his widow, Maureen. This was a successful competition for both adult and children’s sections. Two winners emerged, Belinda our Australian friend who returned home after many months in this country with partner Geoff, and our junior winner, Rosie.

Rosie’s entry and victory in the competition was very worthwhile as she came along to a meeting in May and has been a regular ever since.

Belinda kindly donated her prize money to supplying a trophy for the special writing competition that was originally suggested by Scott. This ‘anonymous’ in house competition, also launched in memory of Bill, meant that all writers provided a piece of writing which was then read out by another Scribbler followed by voting at the end of the evening to decide the winner. This is a regular competition with two winners so far. The first, Tony, followed by Rosie.

Following the long term success of The Lost Sock, the film was featured on Sky Television in 2007 - quite an achievement for an amateur production following the seed that was planted at Culturama back in 2004.

The Committee met just once in 2007. Behind the scenes our treasurer had a difficult job in re-establishing signatories with the bank whilst Ruth and Morag have been responsible for socials and the competitions. Alex has had many communication problems with the internet but had overseen both the website and, especially when there were problems, the weblog.

On a personal level: The pressure of what is a voluntary position has taken its toll over the past two or three years. I have been honoured to be secretary since 1999 but now have reached the point where I need to consider my own future and health.

I have seriously considered resigning as secretary but, with the anticipated support to reduce some of the many ’duties’, I am prepared to remain in post for the short term at least.

Bearing in mind all the time taken up by work, currently six full days a week (not bad for a part-timer!), delivering speedway talks, running family history courses, scribblers business plus all the necessities of home life, time for relaxation and especially my writing is not just limited, but often impossible to find.

What seemed quite simple at the outset as 'secretary', has built into a hefty workload.

Some of the items that I have to deal with include daily emails arrive which need reading, forwarding on, used in meeting reports or discarded. Some demand comprehensive replies. Letters arrive in the post from writing organisations, often too late to be useful at meetings but some need replies.

The telephone calls enquiring about joining Scribblers are fine, as are the requests about how to start and run a writers’ circle. Often calls come from would be authors and writers who want to know how and when they can get their work published, the best agents and publishers to use, self publishing costs, marketing costs and what sort of return they will get from their work! One such caller was extremely rude to my wife because he assumed my phone number was the Scribblers ‘office’ and insisted that she provide the information he wanted there and then!

Preparation and writing meeting reports and newsheets is quite time consuming and updating the weblog to keep it ticking over nicely - means not only pasting items in, but occasionally researching items, scanning photographs and, of course, being wary of copyright issues. There is information gathering, checking out and retaining links with 'useful' contacts and keeping in touch with former members which I think is an extremely valuable exercise whilst an essential element is to maintain a good and happy working relationship with our hosts at Felixstowe Library.

There is the provision of milk, which I generally provide, biscuits are purchased via Peter, our Treasurer, although donations of cakes and other refreshments are always very welcome!

Unlocking the library on alternate meetings means arriving as early as possible to get the key that Liliane regularly collects from the Library. I have to drive from (and to) Ipswich, sometimes virtually straight from work. At the other end of the meeting everything has to be checked to prior to setting the alarm. The alarm has activated on a number of occasions and has meant staying behind until the cavalry arrives to reset the panel. Also ensuring everyone has a lift home if needed.

I try to retain a relaxed atmosphere and usually gauge the length of meetings quite well. The break time is the 'social' part of the meeting and is built in to be just that - a relaxing refreshment break when members can discuss a plethora of subjects.

My personal writing - including homework assignments - sometimes have to be fitted in during coffee breaks at work or on my train journeys to London, hardly the best environments in which to work! There is only so much I can do - my situation is likely to worsen during 2008 with time at an even greater premium. My days usually run from around 6 am on average to - often - the very early hours.

I have seriously considered resigning as secretary and currently feel that a lot of the items above need to be shared out to ensure, providing you still want me, that I continue as secretary. I really do need support if I am to maintain my commitment and justify my time. Dave

Offers of help with certain aspects were made and these will be fine tuned to help reduce the workload. It was agreed that meeting reports only include writers names and title of the homework and drop the brief resume of the work.

4. Treasurer's report
Our small account with the Alliance and Leicester remains in credit but the situation is that banking with them is never straightforward and we are also charged £1 for every deposit we make. As a consequence I have made enquiries with another bank, the HSBC and have a meeting arranged tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss opening an account there. Assuming this goes ahead then all signatories will probably need to fill in the various forms for the new bank.
We are expecting a bill to cover the cost of the website. The current level of ‘donation’ for tea and coffee will remain the same at 50 pence. Peter

Agreement was unanimous to seek another bank. There was also a reminder that anything purchase on behalf of the Scribblers should be claimed - with receipts - from the treasurer.

5. Website and weblog report
I have had a lot of problems with my internet connections but hope to have a fix in the next three weeks or so. At the committee meeting last year it was decided to reduce the level of presence on the Internet but Dave had been regularly posting items on the weblog. There are some amendments that need attention, namely the meeting dates on the weblog, to the memorial and meet the writers pages on the website. These will be done as soon as possible. Alex

Alex agreed to resume posting on the weblog as soon as he is able.

6. Social events report
In the unfortunate absence of Ruth, Morag reported that the early year social had in fact been a shared ‘birthday’ party between Alex, Kay and Morag. The summer social was held at Ruth and Andrew’s beach hut on a really lovely summer evening and was a complete success with great company, nice snacks and drinks and background music - completely opposite to the previous years beach party! Morag

7. Online Scribblers report
I took over as secretary of the Online Scribblers in March last year and have found it difficult to spend as much time as I wished on developing the site and content. However it has been with Debbie’s backing from her base in France, that the site was first created and nurtured along. Debbie has been a fantastic strength and support through these months otherwise I wonder what would have happened to the site.

Looking on the positive side, there are now 63 members with over 550 posts having been made. We have continued the competitions that Debbie and Dave began at the offset and I have been proud to see the quality of entries together with the excitement of the voting as first Morag and Candour needed a tie-breaker to separate them, then Chris and Caz tied for the Autumn competition that was dedicated to Jack Wilkinson.

Regular competitions will continue throughout 2008 with at least one newsletter a month emailed to our members.

Online Scribblers would love to see more members in the ranks, especially those who are prepared to post newsworthy items or join in discussions in the forums. Vincent West

8. Ratification of committee and/or election of new officers
The questions regarding the future of the committee were discussed. It was agreed the size of the committee is right, but the lack of meetings in 2007 was a distinct disadvantage in proving its effectiveness. Whilst it does not need restructuring it does need to meet regularly and three meetings are to be arranged in February, June and October. Dick kindly volunteered to host the meetings. After a short discussion it was proposed and passed that the committee remained unchanged subject to agreement from Ruth and Kay. Secretary

9. Planning for the future
The possibility of a follow up competition, with cash prizes supplied by Maureen Budner in memory of her husband Bill Budner has been put on hold. Morag was in touch with Maureen who had agreed to sponsor another competition and promised to get back to Morag after a holiday. At present Maureen has not replied and all agreed that we should not contact her as we did not wish to either worry or pester her.

Possibilities of organising a writing competition on our own was discussed with the benefits outweighed by the cost of providing a judge and the possibility that entrance fees may fail to match the prize money. This too was put on hold.

The committee will look at providing a presence at various local functions, perhaps including Ip-Art and a library display for events like Poetry Day. Whilst Dave will try and maintain the use of display boards from the Record Office, Peter has stated that he belongs to two organisations whom also have display boards that he may be able to borrow.

The Scribblers need to be aware of local writing events throughout the year far enough in advance to investigate displaying our work as a group. Members are invited to let us know if they hear of any forthcoming events or competitions.

A suggestion was made and discussed to run an ongoing story between members, mainly through emails but will be offered to others not on computer. An idea of up to, say, 200 words maximum but with a time limit for each submission. Details will be discussed shortly. Secretary

10. Structure of meetings
Views on the two 1,500 word and the 500 word homework assignments and the feedback were discussed and agreement was made that this meeting format continues with the proviso that, should attendances rise to unmanageable numbers then the question of longer pieces would be reviewed.

All were in agreement that the Anonymous Writing Competition for the Bill Budner Trophy has been a success and voted that it continued in its present format with the next one due to be held on 22nd January and again in May and September.

The recent writing exercise was greatly enjoyed and similar evenings are planned for March July and December.

It was agreed that the selection of members to read at meetings would follow the second of the 1,500 open readings and would then move in turn round the room.

In addition to selecting just topics or words as homework assignments, it was suggested that genres be added to list. Secretary

11. Socials
The social evening at the Grosvenor has been booked for 29th January. Ruth has the menus and passed the information over the phone to Morag. Basically there are two for the price of one meals on offer at £7.00. Meal choices will be required at our next meeting on 22nd January but no deposit is needed. Guests, friends and spouses are all very welcome!

Ruth has offered the use of her beach hut as a base for the summer social beach party. Morag

12. Publicity
It was proposed and agreed that a schedule of our meetings should be sent for display in the Library, Felixstowe TV and any business that is willing to accommodate them. The dates need to be added to our weblog. Details and possible press releases should be made at opportune times to Felixstowe TV, the local free press and other newspapers. Secretary

13. Displays and/or attendance at various functions
This was discussed in Item 9.

14. Any Other Business.
Dick reminded us of the Coast to Coast competition that is organised by his colleague Maurice. There are short story and poetry competitions open to all. The cost will be confirmed but it was £4.00 in 2007 and details of the current years charge will be forwarded as soon as possible.. Coast to Coast is a monthly competition with the winners going forward to the grand final at the end of the year for a prize of £100 donated by Dick in memory of his late wife Ann Bradshaw.

There being no further business the meeting closed at 9.40pm.

Keep Scribbling!!


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