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Held at Neuadd Pendre Social Centre, Tywyn, Gwynedd on September 24th, 2016

On the platform were David Mitchell, President TRPS; Jane Garvey, Chairman, TRPS; Gareth Jones, Chairman, TR Co; John Robinson, Hon. Secretary, TRPS and Secretary, TR Co; Garry Mumford, Hon Treasurer TRPS and Accountant, TR Co and Philip Sayers as Minute-taker. There were some 160 members present.

David Mitchell opened the meeting at 3.30 pm by asking the meeting to stand in silence in memory of members who had died over the past year, including David Black, Grahame Cox, Mel Elliott of the Puffing Billy and Marshall Vine.

1. Apologies

Apologies had been received from Council members Walter Crowe, who was suffering from a kidney stone, Matt Dawson, who had been in a bicycle accident and Ellis Jacklin and ten other members.

Garry Mumford then mentioned the collection later in the meeting, asking if the Gift Aid declarations could be completed. He also drew attention to the standing order forms in the room.

2. Minutes of the 65th AGM

The Minutes of the 65th AGM of the Society, held at Tywyn on September 26th, 2015, having been circulated to members of the Society at that date, were proposed by David Mitchell to be taken as read. The minutes were approved without dissent and David Mitchell duly signed them as being a true record.

3. Matters arising from the Minutes

John Burton asked about the use of the money collected at last year’s AGM for re-developing the website. Tracey Parkinson replied that themoney remained earmarked for this purpose and options were being explored.

George Cuthbertson again drew attention to the state of Wharf car park. There would be a meeting the following Thursday (27th September) with the Town Council.Once the lease was in place, options for resurfacing would be considered. Mr Cuthbertson went on to suggest that if the matter of the lease was not settled by next week we should refer the issue to the Law Society.

4. Election of President

Jane Garvey took the chair and asked the meeting to endorse the Council’s nomination of David Mitchell as President. This was agreed without dissent. David Mitchell resumed the Chair.

5. Election of Vice-Presidents

David Mitchell explained that Richard Rolt, the elder son of Tom and Sonia Rolt, and Roger Whitehouse had been nominated by the Council for election as Vice-Presidents in accordance with the Rules. They had written brief biographies for the Annual Report.Both Mr Rolt and Mr Whitehouse were elected without dissent.

6. Appointment of Independent Examiners

David Mitchell called for nominations for the Society’s Independent Examiners. The appointment of Silver & Co was proposed by Nigel Adams, seconded byChris Hill, and agreed by the meeting. Mr Mitchell thanked Peter and Paul Silver for their work on behalf of the TR.

7. Election of Honorary Secretary

John S. Robinson had been nominated in accordance with the Rules; this was put to the meeting by David Mitchell and agreed without dissent.

8. Election of nine members of Council

David Mitchell asked John Robinson to read out the names of the candidates who had been asked to come to the front of the hall and stand in front of the stage. John Robinson then read out the names of the twelve candidates. Ballot papers were then collected.

Later in the meeting Paul Silver announced the results. 176 valid papers (there were none void) had been returned with 1327 votes being cast as follows:

Jane Garvey 103, Keith Hayes 96, Bill Heynes 118, David Jones 80, Gareth Jones 128, Lis Mann 143, David Martin 78, Andrew Robinson 87, Philip Sayers 116, John Simner 78, Keith Theobald 138 and David Ventry 162.

Mesdames Garvey and Mann and Messrs Hayes, Heynes, Gareth Jones, Robinson, Sayers, Theobald and Ventry were declared elected. Permission was given to dispose of the ballot papers in the usual way.

9. Reception, Approval and Adoption of Reports

David Mitchell called on Jane Garvey to present the report of Council. Mrs Garvey said it had been a privilege to be Chairman through some interesting times and an honour to be able to celebrate the 150th year while this year we had the Road to Adventure Gala and concluded with the Grand Finale, a Fletcher Jennings extravaganza. Things like this didn’t just happen and her heartfelt thanks went to everyone who had anything to do with making it happen.

Last year we were saying some farewells but this year it was our very great pleasure to welcome two new people, Stephen Davis as Engineering Manager and Tracey Parkinson as General Manager. This year, again thanks to an anonymous donation, we again saw a seasonal volunteer in the Booking Office. With the help of the Graham Guilford fund we also had our first wheelchair-user staying in Llechfan and volunteering too.

Another special anniversary this year was 20 years of Tracksiders, a group of young people which owes a great debt of gratitude to the hard work and dedication of Ian Evans. Mrs Garvey thanked all those who had played their part and also everyone on Council who had made her job as Chairman, if not easy, satisfying.

Garry Mumford then presented the Treasurer’s report. The higher loss in 2015 was a matter of concern. Although provision of financial support was one of the Society’s objectives, it would be better if the Society could support new projects and objectives. Costs were increasing and the challenge was to increase our income. It was important to look forward; we cannot change the past but we can the future. The August Management Accounts which showed a year-to-date catering surplus of about £16,000 showed signs that we had turned the corner. From being behind last year’s public passenger bookings, bookings now stood 1.5% up. Despite this revenue was still down and we were looking into this which may be due to factors such as the mix of tickets sold. Shop revenue was down this year, perhaps due to the number of books which were produced for the 150th anniversary boosting business last year.

David Mitchell then invited questions on the Report and Accounts. Mike Davies followed up his comment at last year’s AGM on the pricing of Driver Experience trains and was assured that prices had been increased recently. Nigel Adams referred to an overheard conversation in the Wharf Booking Hall; part of our problem might be that people were joining the Society to save money on fares. Garry Mumford admitted that the gap between the price of membership and fares was far too small but the problem was complex. However three out of four members who joined at Wharf in 2015 had renewed. Charles Fleming pointed out that the Accounts were published a long time after the end of the Financial Year; if they could be published nearer the beginning of the season members could focus on the problem. Garry Mumford said that the accounts could be published much sooner but either the other reports would also have to be published sooner or publication of them would need to be split from publication of the accounts. Gareth Jones was sure we could give an earlier indication of how things were going. David Room wondered why we had management accounts if they did not show the trends. Garry Mumford admitted that last year we had missed the window to make things work although we had tried to improve the quality of the catering product. Tracey Parkinson pointed out that this year things such as buying and margins had fundamentally changed. Gerry Young commented that the standard of service in the cafés had not improved in his experience. Robin Webb pointed out that Associate Members only paid £10 a year, much less than the cost of a return ticket.

David Mitchell then asked for a proposal for acceptance of the report of Council and the Society financial statements. This was proposed by Nigel Adams, seconded by Don Newing and agreed without dissent.

10. Presentation by the General Manager

Tracey Parkinson gave an illustrated talk on her career before being appointed as TR General Manager and her thoughts for the future of the Railway. We needed a long term strategy for where we might be in fifty years time. It cost about £21 per passenger to operate the Railway but the average fare plus secondary spend amounted to around £19.60. We needed a 5% per annum growth in passengers for the next five years, i.e. 8 passengers a day or 60 per week. We needed to budget so we could live within our means but also to develop a five to ten year business plan focussing on the customers and targeting the visitors who were in the area. We needed to listen to what they were saying and make the timetable attractive to them. Every passenger who came had to go away as an advocate for the Railway. We also needed a volunteer strategy encouraging them to bring a friend to volunteer. Tracey summarised her objectives as passenger growth, volunteer growth and cost control (applause).

11. AGM Collection

David Mitchell invited Lorraine Simkiss to explain the object of the collection which was for defibrillators, which cost around £1,600 each, for (eventually) several of the Railway’s stations. The collection was then taken.

12. Miscellaneous Announcements

Justin Adams announced the result of the Traffic & Operating Committee election. For the Locomotive Department there had been two candidates for two places and thus Bill Heynes and Karen Willans were elected unopposed. For the Traffic Department there were three candidates for two places. 127 papers had been returned and the votes cast were as follows: Jill Rowbotham 83, Simon Carey 75, John Simner 82. Jill Rowbotham and John Simner were therefore declared elected.

Philip Sayers announced that the Young Members’ Group election had not been contested. There had been five candidates for the five places and therefore declared Lottie Atkinson, Adam Davies, Paul Edwards, Ruth Goode and Morgan Price elected.

Josh Green and Becky Cottrell announced the evening’s activities at Wharf and also asked for suggestions for social events during the next year. They thanked Tony and Flo Thorpe for their work at the barbecues for many years and asked for volunteers to take over.

Gareth Jones referred to the TR’s sponsorship of the Abergynolwyn Show and read from a letter of thanks from Jennie Evans, a member of the Abergynolwyn catering staff and one of the organisers of the show.

Andy Lawton of the Midland Area Group appealed for help with the TRPS publicity stand at the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition at the NEC on 26th & 27th November. He also appealed for a volunteer to take over as Midland Area Secretary.

Tony Randall announced the London and Southern Counties Area Group dinner on 5th December.

Ian Drummond announced the publication of a limited edition book recording the 150th anniversary events, all profits from which would go to the Railway

Mike Davies, on behalf of Will Smith, recommended the open days the Vale of Rheidol Railway were holding that weekend.

12. Any Other Competent Business

Mike Davies requested that during its current overhaul loco No.3 should be fitted with sanding gear similar to that on No.4. He also hoped it would return in the livery it was last in; he thought it looked superb. The meeting was reminded that this was for Council to decide.

Don Newing, Archives Officer, referring to an article in the current Talyllyn News, said he was trying to put together a catalogue of our archives. He asked for help with this especially because the Dolgellau County Records Office, where our archives were kept, was now only open on Mondays and Tuesdays.

John Smallwood appealed for traffic volunteers saying there were virtually none booked for much of October.

There being no other business David Mitchell declared the meeting closed at 1714 p.m. after thanking volunteers and staff for their efforts during the last year and Jane Garvey for the work she had put in during her three years as Chairman of Council.