You will be surprised to see that this chairman's report is being written by me, Bob McKean, rather than by Jack McGregor. It is with much regret that I have to inform you that Jack resigned as Chairman and as a member of the Executive Committee at its meeting on 9 June. With the Committee's agreement I have agreed to act as interim Chairman until the A.G.M. on 22 October 2015, when I will put myself forward for election as Chairman for a period of two years. I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of myself and the Committee to thank Jack most warmly for his considerable contribution to the Centre over his period of office. No one could have been more assiduous and conscientious in his work for the Centre and the Trust. Those of us who were lucky enough to attend the Northumberland holiday last June can attest to the thoughtful care and attention he brought to all the details of the trip and his desire to help us all make the most enjoyment of our outings. Jack chaired the Committee meetings with patience and thoroughness. Members, too, will be familiar with his warm and friendly conduct of our lectures. In the wake of Jack's resignation, two other members of the Committee intimated that they wished to leave it. These were Gill McGregor and Jack Sutherland, our Vice-Chairman. I would like to express my gratitude to Gill for the considerable time and effort she has given to providing refreshments at the winter talks. Personally I will miss my chats with her as I helped fill the plastic glasses with wine! Jack Sutherland, too, deserves all our thanks for his many years of service to the Centre as a member of the Committee, Secretary and latterly as Vice-Chairman. I hope very much that we all shall still continue to enjoy the company of the three colleagues who have retired from the Committee at future winter lectures and summer outings. I am pleased to inform you that Donald Way has agreed to his name being proposed at the A.G.M. as Vice-Chairman for a period of two years. Liz Bryce has kindly offered to take over the duties of organiser of refreshments at winter meetings with the help of Kate Luke. The final change to our office holders that I have to announce is that at its meeting on 1 April the Committee agreed to the proposal of Sandy Moreland, our Joint Secretary, that matters of publicity be separated from the secretarial portfolio and a separate office of Publicity Secretary be established to leave him more time to devote to his duties as Joint Secretary. Ian Watson generously agreed to take on the post. All these changes to the membership of the Committee means that we are now three members short of our full complement of twelve. This inevitably places a greater burden of work on the remaining nine members. Accordingly, the Committee is looking for public-spirited members of the Centre to join us. Honestly, we are a friendly bunch! If you would like to put your name forward for election to the Committee at the A.G.M., please contact me or Sandy and Margaret Moreland, our Joint Secretaries, or indicate your interest on the booking form for the winter talks.
Since the distribution of the Spring Newsletter there have been two regular and one extraordinary meetings of the Executive Committee. I would like to draw members' attention to several items discussed at these meetings.
As Jack McGregor mentioned in his previous Newsletter, a questionnaire was included with it concerning the proposed venue for winter talks, given the unsuitability of the new Bannockburn Centre. 56 members out of our total memberships (200 representing 265 members) replied. 41 (75%) voted for winter talks to be held in St. Ninian's Hall and 24 (40%) for the Mayfield Centre. As far as time of meetings was concerned, 100% had voted for 2.30 p.m, and 7% would also be happy with 7.30p.m. On the day that meetings should be held, there was a wide spread of opinion, with Wednesdays and Thursdays being the most popular. Accordingly, the Committee agreed to hold all the winter lectures at the St. Ninian's Hall, most of them starting at 2.30 p.m. but with an occasional evening lecture. I would remind members that the Lidl supermarket has allowed us to use their car park. However, the Annual General Meeting would continue to be held at the Mayfield Centre in the evening.
On the matter of donations I am pleased to report that the Hill House, Helensburgh, has been able to purchase a Charles Rennie Mackintosh chair and lamp which had been currently on loan. Your Members' Centre donated £1,000 to the National Trust for Scotland's appeal fund. In addition we have donated £1,000 to Branklyn Garden for plant labels; £700 to the David Livingstone Centre for plants and tools; £850 to Ben Lawers (£650 for Low Pressure Tracks and £200 for Young Naturalist Club members carrying out work).
Regarding the not inconsiderable costs the Centre bears in the twice annual mailing of the Newsletter, Sandy Moreland suggested at the Committee's meeting on 1 April that a sponsor be found. He approached Graham Dairies, Stirling. I am pleased to report that the company has agreed to do so for the foreseeable future. Graham's Dairies have accepted our offer to include an acknowledgement of their kind sponsorship appearing on all future newsletters, along with a Grahams Dairies advertising logo.
At the time of writing the Committee is considering various proposals for increasing our membership. As we are all aware, the bulk of our membership is not quite in its first flush of youth, to put it delicately! This has the knock-on effect that the number of members willing and able to serve as an office-bearer is continually shrinking. One suggestion from Ian Watson has been already implemented. As Publicity Officer, Ian is now sending after summer trips and winter lectures reports on these events to local newspapers for publicity to boost interest in our Centre's events. We are in discussion with the new Support Officer for Members' Centres at Trust Headquarters, Chris Major, about possible ways forward, including a mailing to all NTS members in the Stirling area, not at present members of the Centre, advising them of the existence and activities of the Members' Centre. As this would prove expensive in relation to postage, an alternative might be to restrict the contact to those NTS members who are on e-mail. Unfortunately, because of Data Protection rules, this would include those already in the Stirling Members' Centre.
Finally, it is gratifying to record that the organisers of the summer outings which have taken place to date report favourable feedback. 27 members went on the excursion to the National Mining Museum of Scotland in April; 46 to Glamis Castle in May; 52 to Dunstaffnage Castle in June; and 35 to Mellerstain House in July. Although the weather could have been kinder, at least none of them was rained out and the sun amazingly appeared for a whole half hour at Mellerstain. In this connection I would like to thank members for heeding Jack McGregor's appeal in his Spring 2015 Newsletter to stick to the request of PC World that we park our cars in the north-west part of the parking area, that is, to the left of, and not in front of PC World.
In closing I would like to wish you all a pleasant summer or whatever season Nature decides to bestow on us in August and September!
If any member who currently does not pay his/her subscription by Standing Order or has not completed a Gift Aid mandate and wishes to do so, please contact Robert Jackson, our treasurer, who will supply the appropriate form(s).
Mr George Barclay - His son advised that Mr Barclay passed away in June 2014. He had been a member since 1987.
Mrs J P Gardiner - Mrs Gardiner passed away earlier in the year. She had been a member since before 1991.
Mary Robertson of 4 Brentham Avenue Stirling died on 1st May 2015.
We would like to offer their family and friends our deep and sincere sympathy on their sad loss.
We are very pleased to announce that Grahams Family Dairies have agreed to sponsor the postage costs of our bi-annual newsletter for the foreseeable future. Our grateful thanks for this sponsorship to all at Grahams.