December 2020

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Message from MPT

As you may or may not know, the advent of  Covid-19 has bought the Club meetings to a grinding halt.

However, our editor has gone into overdrive producing  supposedly “mini” or quick Newsletters (seemingly every other day) to keep things going in the interim. In fact I would say that he is doing a more than “grand job” as the term “mini” is a little misleading, some of them have been bigger than the regular output, which means  I can’t keep up.

FROM OUR OUT-GOING CHAIRMAN

Here we are nearly at an end of a year which no-one could have predicted. We were planning to celebrate our 25th anniversary and I was going to wind down after 23 years chairing the club.

 Instead we haven’t had a club meeting since early March and I’ve been doing things like risk assessments, asking for donations and arranging a special AGM by email and letters. But we have nearly reached the end of 2020 and this is my last bit “from the Chairman”, although I am staying on as an ordinary member and when we do get back to club meetings it will be nice to learn how to operate our layouts and to run some of my stock at the club. To give some sort of continuity in these difficult times I’ve offered to send out the newsletters for 2021. You can forward it to anyone else who might be interested in reading it.

Through this club, exhibitions, our newsletter and website I’ve met or been in touch with thousands of people, maybe many more. I wasn’t planning to chair the club for so long and we were not expecting our founder / chairman to die so soon after the club was formed. When exhibitions start up again my plan is still to exhibit many of my small layouts most of which I’ve resurrected during 2020. It’s also allowed me time to reflect on the members and others who have made the club so successful throughout its 25 years, and who continue to do so.

Wishing the club and everyone reading this a much better 2021.  Thank you for an unforgettable time as chairman.

 

Stay safe,  Ken Jones

Footnote: We have agreed 2021 dates with the church, but at this stage I don't intend issuing them to members or including them in the this newsletter. There is no point in getting everyone's hope up. Instead as outgoing chairman and after the next newsletter is published I will issue my final email as Chairman, which will be minutes of EGM, minutes of remote AGM and agreed dates for next year. Just thought you all would like to know that at least we have dates in the Church diary even if we don't know if we will be able to meet.

FROM OUR IN-COMING CHAIRMAN

My original hope was to say much of what is in this written address to you at a meeting at the church hall in Tipton. Unfortunately this is not going to happen as yet so a written address it will have to be. On the lighter side, I have been assured by Ken that we will not have the same issues on handover as Joe Biden is having in the USA.

My first task is to thank Ken Jones for his service to the club over the last 23 years as Chairman, taking over in difficult circumstances. I’m sure you will all agree that he has steered the Club through times cheerfully, with humour and tact. I hope he can now enjoy time as an ordinary member and run his trains without interruption. I know he will be there for us to share his knowledge and experience to help us to progress as a Club. I would also like to thank Jane and Tony Minchin for the service to the Club as key-holders; they have decided that now is the time to step down and we shall be looking for a volunteer to take over this responsibility.

When I first discussed the possibility of taking over as Chairman with Ken some months ago at a near-flooded exhibition in Sileby, little did I know that I would take over in difficult circumstances too. As a consequence I think our main priority is to try to get some sort of club activity running as soon as we are permitted by the government and with the co-operation of the Methodist Church, its Minister Trevor Pratt and his team. We were unfortunate that the planned EGM and limited running session had to be cancelled as a result of the introduction of stricter Coronavirus regulations. Having assisted Ken with some of the planning, I know how disappointed he was and how much work he had put into sorting out protocols and risk assessments and also the time he and I spent discussing progress with Trevor Pratt and his team. I’m particularly aware of how much it takes to get this sort of thing running having done it myself at Trent Valley Model Railway Society (I’m grateful for the support and advice I had from Ken when setting this up – we shared a lot of information and ideas to the benefit of both clubs). The great benefit of Ken’s work in this respect is that it does not need to be repeated although we may need to look at protocols again if Government regulations are a little different. Whilst it may be some time before we can meet again as a whole club, I hope we can get some sort of meeting going in the not too distant future.

I was intending to make this a much shorter ‘speech’ aimed at explaining my philosophy for the future of the Club but circumstances have got in the way. I’m a member of three different model railway clubs and each has its own different features and character. My personal view is that a change of Chairman shouldn’t affect the character or features of the Club. I don’t wish to make comparisons with other clubs; we are an amalgam of our own personalities and the club reflects our wishes as members. Whilst keeping us in check, Ken’s ‘modus operandi’ has been to ensure that the members make decisions. He may have issued guidance but the decisions, like parting with the N Gauge Society, have been membership decisions. This is a characteristic of the club that I wish to enhance and develop. What impressed me also, when we were taking donations to cover running expenses earlier in the lockdown, was the feeling that the members really felt that the club was important to them.

Obviously, our first priority is to get the club running again, hopefully back to a ‘normal’ situation with as many members feeling that they wish to attend, as soon as safely possible. Linked with that, we need to ensure the financial viability so that we can continue to operate and carry out the activities that we wish to do. Beyond that, it is probably a key priority to keep the membership number stable or grow them slightly. As Ken has said before, we are a little limited for space and if we had a big influx of new members we might find it difficult to cope. When the show circuit returns (hopefully) we may well be able to get the club’s name out in front of the public again, other suggestions are equally welcome.

Beyond that, I feel it is up to the members to decide where they want the club to go and what activities they wish to proceed with. Are we content with the layouts that we have? What can we do to further develop the layouts that we have? Do we want to build another layout once we are fully happy with Whartson Hall (there are lots of things to consider if we do and I’m not putting this up as a proposal either)? If you have any suggestions, ideas etc., then let me know and we can discuss them at a meeting (when we are finally able to get back together).

To close, my thanks to Edgar, Vince and Dave Griffin for continuing in their roles within the club and to Phil for stepping up to assist Edgar.   JE