Committee Members' Reports 2001/2002

Chairperson - Anne Shapland

This has been a successful year in having a wide and extensive range of activities and participation. One of the good outcomes of the Foot and Mouth outbreak was that as the walking was curtailed, the social activities increased, and this has continued into this year. So, there is now a greater range of strenuous walks, easier walks, and social events on the programme.

However, many of the events are organised by the same small core of people. A booklet entitled the Event Organisers' Guide has been produced and collated by Chris Hunt, which we hope will encourage other group members to organise events. In particular, we would like to see more female organisers. Last year there were four weekends, three social events and two day walks led by female members, which is about one fifth of our total events, although our membership is roughly 50:50 in active males to females. So, do be encouraged to try! And, perhaps consider joint organising, or organising without leading as an option. If there is an interest in a map-reading course, this could probably be arranged.

At this year's National Hostelling and Local Groups' Conference, Leicester won the President's Award for the 'Best Local Groups' Web Site,' and we were runners-up for the 2001 President's Trophy - the trophy that is awarded for the highest overall mark gained in all eight of the President's Awards. At the Conference, Leicester Group also proposed a motion, for YHA to standardise booking conditions for Local Groups, which was carried unopposed. Congratulations, to all those who took part and in particular to Chris, who has won the best web site, for three years running. We shall soon be entering again for the 2002 Awards.

This year the Committee has been looking at alternative premises for our weekly meetings. The reasons for this were the possible closure of the King Richard III when the present landlord retires, and a view expressed by several members that they would prefer a venue with better parking, lighting, and other facilities. We have looked at The Counting House on Freemen's Common, The Holiday Inn, The Shakespeare's Head, and The Rutland and Derby. These have provided us with some options, but we are still looking. We would welcome any suggestions or involvement from members. The difficulty is finding a central location, with the facilities required, and a quiet atmosphere in which to talk!

Finally, my thanks to all the committee members, event organisers, daytime walkers, and anyone else who has helped make 2001-2002 a success.

Secretary - Phil Humphrey

I am no longer able to get to the Wednesday night meetings as frequently as I used to and have not taken part in so many events either this year.

I have enjoyed good support from the rest of the committee and have been able to send out programmes and suitable covering letters to prospective new members through the year. I hope I have also been accurate in my recording of the group committee meetings and AGM.

Our baby is due on 4th November, so apologies in advance if I'm not present at the 2002 AGM.

Treasurer - Dave Self

In 2002, the Group for the first time topped the 10,000 mark with its Annual Turnover. Our best turnover in the previous 5 years was in 99/2000, when 7,852 went through the account. National Office is using this same year as its standard, following the effects of the Foot and Mouth Epidemic in 2001. A sum of 10,399.35 spent on hostelling and admin in one-year looks very good, but is it? I'll put this more into perspective. In 99/2000, the Group organised 19 weekends and paid for 467 hostel overnights. This year we organised 20 weekends and paid for 490 overnights. These were both very similar hostelling years, each year averaging 24 overnights per weekend. Hence, the Group has not increased its hostelling to raise turnover, but the costs of its events have increased. Then again, by the same calculation, we are still as active as we were before the Foot and Mouth outbreak. However, with its membership increasing, the Group should become more active in the future. There are important changes coming at a National level from the 31st December 02. Our Group has been at the forefront in the proposing, and designing, of a new Local Group Booking Form, a form for use by all YHA Affiliated Groups that will introduce a new Group Affiliation Card. This card gives a 10% discount on any Local Group booking of five or more members. This Group still relies on just a few 'regulars' to organiser its weekends. If we are to take full advantage of this 'Loyalty Discount', we need more members to come forward and organise events, especially from amongst our female members and those new to the group.

At our last AGM, you (the members) raised Admin Charges on weekends to 50pence, which led to over 100 in extra income in 2002. We also gained 70 in prize money from the President's Awards plus another 57.05 from donations; overall, we made a Group Surplus of 522.32 last year. After spending 344 from this profit, we carried over an Annual Surplus of 178.32. This when added to Group Funds gave 1,040.05 on the 30th September 2002. The reason I asked for an increase in our Admin Charge was not specifically to increase Group Funds. It was done to offset an expected increase in printing costs, for both our Group Programme and our publicity materials. As expected, we lost our printer but replaced him with another of similar price and quality. This meant there were no extra printing costs; so, there was no need to subsidise the Programme Fund from Group Surplus. My fears of 'great losses' were unfounded. Added to this, there was an increase in the number of members subscribing (and donating) to the Programme Delivery Service; 69 subscribers this year compared with 59 in the previous year. Of course, I thank all of those subscribers, but I feel the increase in subscriptions was very much down to the hard efforts of the Programme Secretary, urging you (the members) to pay your subscriptions. Thus, Chris Hunt was rewarded with a large Programme Fund for his work. After he'd printed his three programmes, there was even 38.85 left over. Rather than use this to pay for the Programme delivery, I have left this money in the Programme Fund for next year. If the level of turnover in Programme Subscriptions continues, I suggest that we return to paying for all programme costs, from our Programme Subscriptions, as we did in 99/2000. That year both printing and delivery were paid from the Programme Fund, though it was subsidised from Group Surplus. Last year, delivery was paid entirely from Group Surplus, because again there were insufficient Programme Subscriptions to meet both costs. We now seem to have the finances of our Programme in balance; it should become self-financing in the future.

Social Treasurer - Mick Nice

This has been another good year for social events and the Social Account has prospered as a result. But, I haven't forgotten that this account is as much about spending money, as it is for making a small profit and keeping a stable balance.

Whilst wishing to maintain a Social Fund of 210 as a 'cushion', I've decided that with everyone's approval, I'll give at least 110 back to the group members. To be broken down as follows:

The 20pence Administration Charge, per person, per social event, remains unchanged. It applies to all social events, regardless of whether or not they are advertised in the programme, newsletter or on the web site. The exceptions being our Christmas and New Year Parties, or any private functions such as members' house warmings, birthday parties, weddings, etc.

My many thanks as always go to all those volunteers who ran the social events.

Programme Secretary - Chris Hunt

As Programme Secretary I have produced three printed programmes over the course of the year, publicising 23 weekends, 19 day walks and 22 social events. In addition the programme has been kept constantly up-to-date on the website, with events often appearing online on the same evening that the organiser gives me the details.

Sadly, I have still had to rely on a handful of people to organise the lion's share of events through the year. Whilst I wouldn't want to discourage those stalwarts from arranging as many events next year, I would like to see the burden spread more evenly across the membership - if only for the increased diversity this would bring to the programme. If every member organised one event each year, we'd have more than one a week. So please, think about running a weekend, day event or social event in the new year.

With this in mind, this meeting sees the launch of the long-awaited Event Organisers' Guide. This document is intended to explain to beginners how to organise a group event - though even the most experienced organiser should find it a useful read. Pick up a copy at the AGM.

Finally I want to thank everyone who's organised an event this year, and made my first year in this post a (relatively) painless experience.

Editor - Paul Jennings

The efforts of the Programme Secretary have meant a very full year for the Group. However, since the last AGM, I have not been able to produce my intended 6 issues of Milestones (one every 2 months).

In fact, I've only managed a fairly miserable 4 and would immediately renew my annual urging to ensure that contributions are made in good time.

There have been a large number of contributors this year (13 excluding myself), with a special merit mark going to Tim Clarke who managed to get me his write-up by post within two days of his Totland Bay weekend completing. Each newsletter has 6 pages, apart from February that struggled to make 4. All weekends possible (excluding some tardy contributors) have been recorded for posterity and where possible, day walks and social events have also been included.

The corresponding web site has been kept up to date and a few additional features included. My efforts to include older editions of Milestones mean that you can now view on-line back to 1994. There is still a huge amount that could be done, but it is time consuming trying to ensure that information is easy to find and there are no problems navigating within the site, or linking to other sites.

My time with the Group has been limited to only two weekend events (Leominster and Hampstead Heath) since the last AGM. This is partly due to my work commitments, damaging both my ankles and moving into a new house with Jackie, whom many of you will have already met. The wedding is now only just over 4 months away (panic!).

However, I will still have time to do the Newsletter. I hope to make improvements, mostly to the paper copy and am always open to suggestions (within reason). Unfortunately, the most obvious steps still remain the same as last year. A first step would be to get more short write-ups included. A second to ask all weekend organisers to ensure that someone is appointed to do its write-up and that it is produced within one month of the event.

If it is time to welcome someone new to the role (perhaps high time, since I've been in it since the December 1990 edition), then I would be happy to offer any assistance that is required. It has always been rewarding, if demanding and has enabled me to keep in touch with Group activities, be involved on the Committee and experiment with Internet web design. Not to mention a free license to pun and insult without too much come back (well, so far!).

Thanks to everyone who has given me so much encouragement and help over the years.

Regional Representative - Alan Summers

There have been four meetings of Central Region Council. These were held at Leicester in October (AGM), Stow on the Wold in February, Manchester in June, and Leominster in September. Due to other commitments I was unable to attend the meetings at Stow and Leominster. As is usual on the occasions of the Regional Council meeting reports are heard from the Board, the Finance, the Chairman's, Hostel Standards, Local Groups, City hostels, Group Hostels and Countryside committee. All these reports are available for members to read.

The year started with the poor results during 2001 caused by the Foot and Mouth outbreak which closed hostels. The loss to YHA was widely publicised. The result was an appraisal of several hostels, which resulted in a list of ten Hostels due to close during the year. These are:- Aysgarth, Buxton, Copt Oak, Dufton, Elton, Holmbury St. Mary, Linton, Norwich, Thurlby, and Windsor. The memo dated March 2002 also out lined action taken and donations to the YHA to help to overcome the financial problems.

New hostels opened during the year include Wells next the Sea, Kielder, Portland and Oxford.

An East Midlands Region,YHA Network Plan "Bursting with Life" was published during May. The region covers the counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland. There are twenty six hostels in the region. None in Rutland. This report states that there is strong support for city hostels in Leicester and Nottingham, from the Heart of England tourist board.

During the year, the move of all headquarters staff to the new offices in Matlock had gone ahead. Although there had been an over run on the costs of conversion to suit a modern YHA, the resulting building was worth some 2 million.

Some 525,150 was awarded to VALVE UK, a consortium set up by the Youth Hostels Association (England and Wales), Scottish Youth Hostels Association and Hostelling International Northern Ireland, to help YHA expand and diversify This money came from the Community Fund which distributes National Lottery Grants.

VALVE = valuing volunteering and enterprise.

During the year there has been a review of YHA Sub Committees, resulting in the principal committees being revised. The National Finance Committee, Group Hostels executive, Cities Hostels Executive, Hostels Standards Committee and Marketing Support Group would be disbanded.

The work of the various committees is reported in YHA news.

There is a general review of Hostel Management procedures to ensure that Yha operates efficiently. A company of internal auditors have been appointed during the year to help ensure that YHA complies with all the charity rules. Internal auditors do not audit the accounts.

Publicity Officer - Phil Worden

During the last year the group was publicised in the following ways:

I would like to thank Tony Dodson for arranging the manufacture and distribution of a variety of T-Shirts and Polo Shirts bearing the group logo;

The Leicester Mercury has been occasionally publishing articles, advertising our group, during the year. I did send the Reporter, Mary Murtaugh, an article providing up-to-date information about the group, so that she would be able to use it for future reference.