I’m pleased to report that this has been a successful season for the Society. The number of members has increased from last year, attendances at our talks have been up and income from guests has risen. They have heard, I hope you will agree, a wide range of expert speakers.

Last year I reported that membership had fallen following an increase in the subscription fee but we have now recovered that ground entirely and membership stands at 91 – the highest for three years. After a slowish start to the season attendance figures also picked up, with 70 or 80 people at meetings on several occasions. And on one occasion we had an audience of over 110, when members of the local British Legion branch were invited to hear a talk about the women who served in the Special Operations Executive during World War II. That is very likely a record for any of our lectures.

Many people contribute throughout the year to enable our meetings to take place. I’d like first to thank our members and visitors for their continued support of the Society. Our joint thanks go to the Minister and Elders of the United Reformed Church for their continued permission to allow us to meet here and use their very modern audio-visual system. One of our very popular speakers told me that this venue and its facilities make it his favourite of all those he visits.

I’d also like to thank our President, Professor Patrick Alderton, for continuing in that role, and I am personally very grateful to the members of our committee, who work to see that our affairs are properly run and our meetings efficiently organised, and across the whole year do so much to raise awareness of the Society in the local community.

We’re very pleased that in 2017 Peter Jarvis became our vice chairman and will follow as chairman in March 2019. He gave a presentation at our 2017 Christmas party on Trinity House and took the chair on three occasions during the year. And as vice chairman Peter organised this year’s highly successful and enjoyable summer outing to Brighton Pavilion and Newhaven Fort.

Our appreciation goes too to those in less public but essential roles, Jill Shillito as our secretary and Anna Burrage, our Hon Treasurer for many years, who keep the financial and other formal business of the Society under control.

During the year Trevor Burrage announced that after five years he wished to give up the role of editing the annual newsletter. We are grateful to him for all his work on that but I’m pleased to say that he will remain on the committee, and will continue to produce and put up posters around Oxted and Limpsfield advertising our meetings.

Great thanks too, go to our Publicity Officer, Stuart Paterson, who writes and distributes press releases of our talks for the local media, which also appear on our website. John Fogg-Elliott continues as the society’s Equipment Officer to ensure that the sound system is functioning and works with Chris Bruce-Jones, to whom we are very grateful, on setting up the slide and computer facilities.

Chris Pendred, our immediate past chairman, remains on the committee to maintain and update the society’s web site and has now offered to take on the key role of Programme Secretary. Chris was also instrumental in organising an exhibition of prints of Limpsfield in the early twentieth-century by a local architect, Arthur Keen, in conjunction with the Limpsfield Arts Society. It took place in April 2017 and was a hugely successful event, which attracted over 200 people across three days.

I’m also delighted to welcome onto the committee, Stuart Dennison, who has kindly offered to edit our annual newsletter this year.

With these additions and appointments, the Society is now well placed to continue as a flourishing, stimulating and well supported group.

Peter Shipley