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Summary of the Committee meeting
held on 18th September 2009

Internal Communication - not for publication

The Committee met from 7:40pm until 9:50pm. Paul Churchman and Roger Kelly were absent. The meeting sent its good wishes to Paul for a speedy recovery from his appendix operation. Jan Kozminski was in attendance as Society Trust Representative.

Society Finance: Subscription and donation income for the first eight months was £149k, (2008: £104K). Land purchase donations for the same period were £6,200.  Deferred Share Scheme commitments amounted to £88k from 193 standing orders and 47 lump sums.

Membership: Membership numbers continue to remain above the 10,000 threshold at 10,125. The Direct Debit scheme continues to flourish. 923 Direct Debits are now set up on the system, accounting for 17% of annual renewals. 188 Standing Orders (4%) remain in existence. Life Members now represented 25% of Society Membership.

Company Finance: August had been a good month for the railway and we had recovered our position against the budget. However, the additional income had already been committed to purchase new rails for the tunnel (£44k) to allow track renewal to take place early next year. The shop had struggled in line with retail generally but trading had improved. Catering had done well in August but Pullman bookings were down as were Steam & Cream bookings.

Special Events: The Local Food Event as Horsted Keynes had gone well. A by-product of this event was that the soft drink refreshments for the Santa trains would be sourced from Sussex farms and it was also hoped to purchase the mince pies locally as well.

'Behind the Scenes' on 12th September had gone very well and the Committee offered its congratulations and thanks to all involved, especially the Loco & C&W Workshops, Atlantic House, Catering and P/Way Depts for the for the time and effort they put into their displays and talking to people. The new C&W Visitor Information Display had been officially opened and congratulations were offered to those involved with this informative display.

The forthcoming Open Day at East Grinstead would allow visitors to see progress and also see our plans for rainwater harvesting from the viaduct and station site to provide water for the water tower. A Matthew Cousins print of the future station and water tower would be offered in return for a £50 donation to the extension project.

Funding: Tenner for the Tip was well over £55k. The Bluebell 50 Appeal had secured £9,146 from 79 donations though this excluded any made via CAF.

Operation Undercover: The new bat roost was in position and occupied with bats moved from the wooden shed by a Natural England licensed handler. The latter has now had its asbestos roof removed by specialist contractors and the adjacent brick building demolished. The rubble will be used for hardcore. Tenders for the project were due back on 25th September (Post meeting note: 4 tenders received by the design company but not yet evaluated).

The Bulleid Bookshop and Model Railway had now closed. The former had been demolished and the 'Isfield' building will be flat-packed to be rebuilt as the replacement Bulleid Bookshop. Derek Hayward had been appointed as official photographer for the project to fulfil an HLF requirement.

Application to seek Trust Funding: The Committee approved a proposal to seek match funding from the Trust to complete the repair of Loco No.323 'Bluebell' and to carry out a swift but limited repair to No.55 'Stepney' in time for the 50th anniversary celebrations next year. Chris Shepherd had assessed both locos and was confident that both locos could be returned to steam by August 2010. The repairs to 'Stepney' (boiler lift, re-tube and firebox repairs) would allow it to be used for very limited lightweight duties over the anniversary period.

Liveries for Locos 323 and 178: Following on from the decision to support the repair of 'Bluebell', the Committee approved a proposal that No.178 should be painted in SECR 1899 livery and 323 should be in the 'Bluebell Blue' variant of that livery.

Date of next Meeting: The next meeting will be a joint company/Trust/Society on 23rd October commencing at 7pm to discuss N/Ext & Undercover issues and will be followed by the Society Committee meeting.

Gavin Bennett
General Secretary


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