Presented to the AGM om 12 March 2024

At the close of my second year as the Society’s chairman, I reflect upon what has been a very successful season. Membership has grown to 109 which is the highest total for the society as far as I am aware.


Our programme of talks covered a wide range of topics and has resulted in talks of a very strong standard. Our talks are of course the mainstay of our society and I am grateful to Peter Shipley for leading the programme development. I know that Peter wishes to step back from this role which he leaves having in my view set and maintained an exceptionally high standard and I appreciate the amount of effort put into planning and arranging the programme. There is a draft 2024/25 programme and I shall mention at the Annual General Meeting the proposed way forward from 2025 onwards.


Exceptionally, this season we had to have two replacement talks (one because of serious illness and one because the speaker was unavailable) and replacement talks were arranged by bringing forward two talks intended to be given by members of the society in the 2024/25 season. This demonstrates the need for contingency planning and even at very short notice a replacement talk will be arranged. The show must go on!


Our 12 talks this season comprise 10 held at the URC, Oxted and two on Zoom. The highest attendances have been 83 and 82 for the talks on Charlemagne and Nelson respectively which compares very favourably to the highest attendance in 2022-23 of 67. Our talks in the URC have an average attendance of 69 compared to the average for the Zoom talks of 43+ (the “+” being the additional numbers in attendance with video off are unknown). We have only one Zoom talk proposed for 2024-25 with an excellent topic and a speaker based in Oxford.


The Summer Outing to Walmer and Deal in July, 2023 was a highlight of the society’s year and I acknowledge the tremendous work into planning this successful outing by Roger Cornish and Lawrence Nicholls. After all the interruptions imposed by the pandemic it was particularly pleasing to welcome back a key feature of the society.


Thanking the committee is not intended as merely some token by the Chairman but is expressed sincerely in gratitude for all that goes on individually and collectively to make the society work so smoothly.


Finally, but importantly, I thank all our members for their continued support of the society and their participation including the range of pertinent questions raised at talks.


Stuart Dennison