Draft Minutes – 2017

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Draft Minutes

of the 34th Annual General Meeting of The Third Age Trust

held at the East Midlands Conference Centre on Thursday 31st August 2017


Present: 200 U3As were represented carrying 495 votes, which represent 19.7 per cent of the total U3As carrying 24.4 per cent of total possible votes. AGM 2016 – 210 U3As were represented carrying 478 votes.

Proxy votes: There were no votes taken at the AGM in 2017 and no votes taken in AGM 2016.

This year there were no proxy votes as there were no resolutions.

Breakdown of available votes per region/country:

East of England – 303; East Midlands – 209; London – 99; North East – 67; North West – 196; Northern Ireland – 43; Scotland – 69; South East – 421; South West – 259; Wales – 89; West Midlands – 159; Yorkshire & The Humber – 112; and Virtual U3A – 1.

1. To receive and approve the minutes of the 2017 Annual General Meeting

Approval of the minutes was proposed by Michael Gibbons (Crowborough U3A) and seconded by Peter Mears (Cardigan U3A).

Agreed nem con with no abstentions.

2. To appoint the tellers for the AGM

The appointment of Helen Catchpole and Judy Briggs (Arnold U3A) was proposed by Elizabeth Bellamy (Burgess Hill U3A) and seconded by Ann Long (Chinnor U3A).

Agreed nem con with no abstentions.

3. Chairman’s Report

The Chairman, Pam Jones reflected on her past two years as Chairman and the amazing U3A movement. She advised that she has worked closely with the Chief Executive Sam Mauger and together they had worked on a fresh perspective to the organisation supported by a dedicated office staff and a very hardworking group of NEC trustees. The hours and hours these given to the movement by the NEC and staff team are considerable. She thanked the NEC officers and regional trustees for their work in 2016/17, Marion Clements (Vice Chairman), Michaela Moody (Vice Chairman) John Ellison (Treasurer), Diana Holdsworth, Hilvary Robinson, Ian McCannah, Jeff Carter, Tony Randall, Jane Pavier, Neil Stevens, Gill Russell, Elizabeth Porter, Rose Marie Bradley, Hilary Jones and Ed Link, and the co-opted Trustee Graham Clark. She also thanked the Chief Executive and office staff for their dedication and hard work. Equally the volunteers in each U3A keep their U3As legal, and educationally and socially vibrant, and there would be no organisation without them.

The Chairman advised that she felt it was important to listen to members and understand what is important to the movement. She has visited many U3As attended network meetings, regional meetings, workshops and other gatherings of U3A members. Last October she attended the AIUTA conference in Osaka, Japan where many U3As from around the world came together.

The Chairman initiated the consultation on the future structure of U3A to discover what and set up a Working Group, whose task it was to ‘fact find’ and they travelled the country uncomplainingly addressing meetings wherever they were requested. She felt confident that anyone who had an opinion on this matter and wished to express it, has had every opportunity to do so during the last 18 months.

She advised the meeting that the Trust had made some changes to the staff team. Recently a Communications Officer, Liz Drury, has joined the Trust, Kevin Traynor, the Finance Manager has been employed to oversee the financial operations of the Trust after the retirement of Tim Harris. Carole Millin and Zazia Pratt had both retired and the evaluation of the training and development team led to an end of the pilot in the Spring.

In terms of the NEC committees there are seven sub-committees and these are reviewed each year in order to check that we are making the best use of our member and financial resources.

The Finance Committee is a very busy one and this year a more user friendly presentation of the accounts has been used for the AGM. The NEC applies due diligence to caring for members’ money and a great many hours and much thought are dedicated to getting it right. The Governance Committee has been focused on the consultation process referred to earlier and a working group is now looking at the Memorandum and Articles of Association, which are due for amendment as the last major amendments were made in 2008. The Standing Committee for Education chaired by Marion Clements has had great support from the membership. 53 volunteers came forward to assist with the progress of education in the movement. Technology and communication figured very highly in the development of education and working groups will be formed to develop these areas of work.

The Development sub-committee has focused on support to local U3As by encouraging volunteers, as well as producing a range of postcards summarising committee posts. The Research Committee oversaw a guide into how to conduct research and a database bringing together examples of current research, together with that from previous years so that future researchers will have a comprehensive reference source. The International sub-committee has been developing plans to encourage more U3As to take part in twinning and cultural/language exchanges. A visit by François Vellas, the President of AIUTA, is planned for later in the year. The IT sub-committee focused on the Beacon project. Support teams have been set up in the regions and a commercial company Siftware has been engaged to assist with various aspects of the system. There are presently 112 U3As using the system with a number on the waiting list. U3A Plus is a new committee with a dual purpose giving continuing advice on accessibility-related issues, based on the experience of U3As and communicating details of organisations who might be able to assist in various areas. She confirmed that the Trust is introducing more and more members on to the sub-committees and working parties so that members have a voice and can offer their expertise. By this means we get expertise and advice on a short-term basis for a specific task.

The Chairman thanked those members who assisted at the events, to our Subject Advisers, to the Shared Learning Project co-ordinators, Research Ambassadors, and all who enable the Summer Schools to happen. Third Age Matters and Sources have a circulation of 230,000 copies. It is a great means of getting information to individual members and she thanked Francis Beckett and Phyllis Hughes.

The organisation has relocated its office to Lant Street, Borough, in London after a break in the rental agreement of the previous property. The new property is accessible for people with disabilities, more accessible to the NEC and members (beneficiaries) of the movement. An advantage of this property is that small committee meetings and those of working parties can be held in the office rather than having to rent other expensive London venues.

The Chairman reflected on the celebration of 1,000 U3As, a memorable day. The movement has now reached 400,000 members and is going from strength to strength.

4. Annual Report and Accounts

Ian McCannah, Vice Chairman, began by acknowledging the work of John Ellison who was unable to attend the conference as a result of ill health.

Ian advised that the accounts have been prepared to show how the year 2016/17 accounts compare with 2015/16 accounts using the same allocation process. The income and expenditure has been allocated against four priorities. The priorities are those that have been adopted by the Trust for several years. The main difference being that the Facilitating the Growth and Raising the Profile have been split into two priorities.

Total income in 2017 was £2.6m of which membership fees were £1.34m and total expenditure in 2017 was £2.6m. Aside from membership fees other income came from legacies, donations, a grant of £10,000 for Summer Schools, national Summer Schools and national Conference. Income was also generated from advertising in TAM, Direct Mail from TAM,  Study Days and the sale of U3A products e.g. diaries.

National Office staff, overheads and premises costs were split over all four priorities in relation to time allocated to each priority. This includes the Resource Centre’s advice and provision of 1,000 loans a quarter, supporting volunteers, website management, national Summer Schools and events. It also includes one-to-one support such as member’s advice by telephone of 850 calls per month, website and e-mail queries of 2,150 per month  training and workshops.

A £90,000 surplus for the year resulted from an increase in membership and lower than expected costs on projects, regional events, grants and volunteers. Stable staff costs and planned savings on office overheads also contributed to this result. This has resulted in total free reserves of £1.2m.

The following questions were raised.

Stewart Lewis, South West Herts U3A. On point 3, Facilitating Growth, he was concerned that not only is this figure a small proportion of overall expenditure at less than 10 per cent but also that it has dropped, from 9 per cent to 8 per cent and forecast at 7 per cent. Is this really the strategic objective and thought of the NEC?

SM. We expect this figure to rise this year. The Trust has just undertaken a huge programme across all the regions and has 98 start-up volunteers. In addition we have Liz Drury in place and are therefore better placed to go out to start new U3As and recruit new members. Without this we could not got out and tell the world to start new U3As, or help those existing U3As who needed some assistance to grow, as we did not have the people in place. During this financial year we have been training a fantastic team of volunteers and we therefore expect that figure to significantly change as a proportion next year.


Michael Bradford, Mayfield & District U3A. Third Age Matters – are there any plans to transmit this electronically or online?

IM. A working group was established to look at non-editorial aspects of TAM. An interim report was produced at the end of last year. The previous advertising manager had stepped down and Landmark has been appointed as advertising agency. This has meant a longer timeframe to allow them at least 6 months to assess TAM. We expected that the advice would be to go online however they reported that TAM advertising was highly respected as it is a quality magazine. They did not see an online TAM in the foreseeable future. The reason is that advertisers can currently see a detailed list of how many people receive the magazine, in an online TAM advertisers would not be keen to advertise as they could not see its reach. So the answer is no.


John Lloyd, Wearside U3A. JL said it was strange for him not to discuss this question with JE before the AGM as usual and he wished him well. He would like to commend the changes to the accounts presentation. His deep concern is that TAM delivery should be part of the capitation fee, thus allowing it to go to all members not just those who opt for direct mailing. The Trust should consider whether keeping the capitation fee the same is a good idea. Items like TAM delivery and Beacon are extra costs to U3As.

IM. Comparison is always made to the National Trust and other organisations where you pay a £60 membership fee and a get a quarterly magazine. To send TAM to all members would require an increase in the capitation fee to around £5.90. This would have to increase annually, to £6.00 or £6.10 to cover the increase in postal charges. If the members wish to do that, then a resolution should be put forward and voted upon. However the view of the NEC is that a proposal to increase the capitation fee to this level would not be supported by the members.

SM. There are two different income strands for TAM, one from advertising and one from income from members via direct mailing. The working group considered whether the total costs can be covered and how to maximise the income from advertising to make TAM self-financing. One amazing thing about TAM is that it has a higher reach than the women’s magazines on shelves. The aspiration is always to get TAM to all members but the finances need to work. On Beacon, payment from members goes to Siftware for support and maintenance of the system but only to U3As using it. We need to ensure that Beacon provides a reliable database. It would not be fair to ask for a charge from all members to pay for Beacon if they are not using it. Charges for Beacon are kept under review and monies are kept in a ring-fenced fund.


Roy Foster, Filey U3A. 2 questions – In line with the BBC, is the Trust going to give a breakdown of staff costs? And the costs of consultancies from external agencies?

SM. Staff costs are shown on page 20, item 8. The figure includes staff in the National Office, the training team from last year and the editor of TAM. Concerning consultants, we have used two this year for the office move. One was for IT and one was for the contracting side. A solicitor has also been used. Consultants are only used ad hoc for small specific tasks, there are no regular consultants on the payroll.


Marie Holmes, Sale U3A. As Treasurer, where would costs of conference and meetings go in this new approach?

SM. Accounted for under governance. The AGM is an opportunity to look at governance and accounting, so that would be the place.


The hall was then asked to approve the Accounts.

Proposed by John Kaye (Furness U3A) and seconded by Gill Simon (Mill Hill U3A).

The membership approved the accounts.

5. Appointment of the Auditors

This was a proposal appoint Knox Cropper as the Auditors and to authorise the Executive Committee to set the remuneration. To further authorise the Executive Committee to put the audit to tender and create an Audit Committee to manage the tender process.

Proposed by Victoria Doran (Hoylake, West Kirby & District U3A) and seconded by Angela Howe (Medway U3A).

A vote took place and the vote was carried with one vote against.

6. Confirmation of Appointment of Officers of the NEC

Sam Mauger (Chief Executive) confirmed to the AGM that the Officer posts for 2017/18 were as follows:

  • Pam Jones, Chairman.
  • Ian McCannah, Vice Chairman.
  • Michaela Moody, Vice Chairman.
  • John Ellison, Treasurer.

7. Confirmation of Election of Regional Trustees

The London Region elected John Bent.

The Yorkshire and the Humber Region elected Sue Stokes.

The South East Region elected Bob Duckmanton.

There was an election in the South West with three candidates. The results were Jill Nicholls with 33 votes, Alan Green with 30 votes, and Gordon Pardy with 18 votes. Jill Nicholls was elected.

There was an election in the West Midlands. Auriol Ainley had 40 votes and Geoff Renshaw had 29 votes. Auriol Ainley was elected.

A number of procedural queries were then raised. It was agreed that more clarity would be provided in the Standing Orders.

SM then thanked the members for their hard work and invited the new NEC to come to the stage before the closing of the AGM. SM also thanked the members for bearing with the new live streaming of the AGM and for their comments on the new approach to the accounts as it is wished to continue to work with members to make the accounts as user-friendly as possible.

PJ then thanked everyone and announced that the next Conference and AGM will take place from 28th to 30th August 2018, in the same venue in the EMCC in Nottingham. There will also be an EGM in March 2018 at which attendance would be appreciated. No date or venue has yet been set as the decision to hold the EGM has just been taken and details will be forthcoming. PJ then closed the AGM.