Friends of Chichester Harbour – Chairman’s report to the AGM 19 October 2017
During 2017, we have continued to reinforce our partnership with the Conservancy. Though we are separate organisations, we are working together on preserving, conserving and educating people around and about this wonderful place. We will continue this, and have an excellent working relationship which serves the Harbour and AONB very well.
Our main achievements are that we continue to support the Harbour both financially to the tune of approximately £40k, and through the work parties – our regular volunteers work a total of around 60 hours a week, or the equivalent of about 2 or 3 full time employees. Also of note is the success of Oyster Boat Terror’s sailing programme. With the support of Emsworth Yacht Harbour, this has been run by a dedicated team of volunteers working under the guidance of Chris Clode, and the extra sailings this summer have enabled us to create a “sinking fund” – we hope not literally – for future maintenance. It is a great example of a volunteer partnership working with the Conservancy. If you haven’t been on a trip I highly recommend you do.
The most important part of all this is you – our Friends – or shall we say members. Our funding model is that we rely on people to donate on a regular, usually annual, basis. This means that the recruitment and retention of Friends is of critical importance. We have for some years been ticking along at around the 2700 mark; every year we gain a few and every year we lose a few. We have very few friends below the age of 50 and as we have more and more demands on our time and resources we need to keep focussed on this – as any charity has to do. It is extremely challenging running a devolved membership organisation on a volunteer basis. People’s expectations are often too high for us to effectively deliver, and it won’t have escaped your notice we are going through significant change in the way retirement takes place in the UK – as people work longer and have less time to volunteer for organisations like ours. We always need volunteers both in our activities and as trustees and officers so please come and talk to me if you, or someone you know, would like to get involved.
So – I ask our members to do as much as they can to help promote us. We will be spending time, and probably money, on promoting ourselves. Where possible we will do it using voluntary labour, but we cannot rely on that alone. We need to constantly make sure that our members feel that belonging to the Friends is worthwhile and that they can see where their money goes. It is also so vital that everyone who loves this place and wants to help it should be a “Friend of Chichester Harbour”. If you have any ideas or comments I am always available to hear and discuss them.
Finally, I would like to thank my fellow Trustees for their support over the year. Sadly, we are losing two stalwarts at the AGM. Val Evans started as membership manager and latterly has been our events manager. Together with her husband Richard, who stood down as Treasurer last year, they have been the backbone of the Friends for many years. Sarah Newman is also leaving us after editing our newsletter for the last 3 years – a task that she has done with great energy, skill and application. The newsletter has been a great success, providing an important vehicle for keeping in touch with our membership. We will have a challenge to continue to the standard set by Sarah. I would like to thank them both.
Finally, I would like to thank Dr Jonathan Potts and his team from the University of Portsmouth who will speak about their course – the MSc in Coastal and Marine Resource Management. The students use the harbour as their field study centre. In line with our stated aim of supporting education, we are keen to progress our relationship with Portsmouth University as a means to support education at the adult level as well as our commitment to schools.