I previously mentioned my desire to stand down from writing these notes for a while but nobody has come forward to take them on. At the recent South East Section AGM many members came up to me to say how much they enjoy my notes and were sorry that I was giving up. So with no takers coming forward it looks like you will have to put up with me for a while longer.
The South East Section AGM took place on Sunday 24th November at our regular location of Hickstead Hotel. About eighty members attending including a few most-welcome guests from the Mid-East Section. I guess we must be doing something right to attract so many members. The AGM followed its usual format with Denis Bass presiding over the meeting as Chairman. Denis reported on another successful year of events and then outlines the events planned for 2020. A full list of these was published in the Christmas card sent to all South East members. I hope you have saved this card and not thrown it out with all the other cards! David Gibbins always does an excellent job as Treasurer and produces the accounts sheets very quickly as our accounting year ends just three weeks before the AGM. In that time the accounts also have to be audited by David Budgeon, so a big thanks you to him for completing this in record time. The committee were all re-elected and two new members were also elected. Ron Clark re-joins after a break and David Greaves joins the committee.
After the main business of the AGM Adrian Goding was invited to address the meeting and update us on happenings at HQ. One of the main things he focused on was the recent dating fraud case that had been reported in a recent Gazette. Adrian explained how the fraud had been attempted and how the DAC had investigated it. Adrian explained that that the professional forensic examination of the documents, presented to try and manipulate a 1904 date, had cost the Club £4,500. Adrian said that it is hoped this cost will be recovered from the former member but he feels it is money well-spent to uphold the Club’s reputation on accurate dating of cars. When Adrian said he wouldn’t hesitate for the Club to spend that sort of money again if necessary I think the whole room was in complete agreement. Dating is such an important part of the VCC and it is vital that its integrity isn’t undermines by dishonest applicants.
The AGM was concluded with the annual presentation of awards with thirteen pieces of silverware being presented by Sharon Bass. It was good that many of them went to new faces. The Jimmy Downs Trophy, which is awarded for outstanding service to the South East Section, was presented to David Lockett and Graham Pilmore-Bedford. It was these two gentlemen that came up with the idea for the Best of West Kent event. This extremely popular one-day event regularly attracts the biggest entry for any VCC event. David and Graham handed over the running of it to John Kemsley a few years ago but it is a fitting that they were honoured for their role in establishing such a successful and enjoyable day each July.
Following the AGM we sat down for an early Christmas lunch with a real party atmosphere. After lunch we were treated to a very interesting talk about hot air ballooning by Robin Batchelor. Robin is a vintage car owner and is also a commentator in Hyde Park for the VCR. He has been a commercial balloon pilot for about forty years and he said how lucky he is to be paid for doing something he loves. He flies balloons on numerous different assignments and he also teaches new people to fly them. Richard Branson was one of his pupils! One surprising thing was that he worked in South Africa giving flights to tourists over the game reserves. Considering you don’t have full control over where a balloon travels or where it lands I wasn’t expecting to see pictures of him flying over elephants, hippos and lions. One landing was in long grass and close by them a lion raised its head. Thank you Robin for entertaining us.
As mentioned during the AGM, the South East Section has commissioned a new website. Chris Loder has done an excellent job over several years running our website but the design is now dated and not compatible with smart phones and tablets. The new modern website should be up and running by the time these notes appear. The web address remains the same www.vccsoutheast.co.uk. Do take a look at the site. Full details of our events can be found there and entry forms can be downloaded and printed. It is hoped that members will visit the website on a regular basis and also provide photographs of events to be added to the site. The website will be updated and enlarged during the year so contributions will be most welcome.
Our next event is the Spring Opener on Saturday 18th April at the Royal Oak in Wineham. A good opportunity to test your veteran car before the Creepy Crawly the following weekend. The main event returns to France this year and is being organised by Denis and Sharon Bass. Full details will be on the website or see the calendar in this Gazette.
David Ralph (Section Scribe)