SUES Committee Meeting: 23/07/2021

Present – Alan Potter (Chair), Margaret Boneham, Peter Firth, Roger Mitchell, Bob Neate, Mary Ormsby, Christine Vasey

Apologies – John Sharp

The meeting took place at All Saints Church Hall after the AGM

  1. Minutes

The revised minutes of the Committee Meeting on11th June were circulated and approved. They now include a brief note from Peter summarising the requirements of Public Liability Insurance.

  1. Matters Arising

The AGM had confirmed the Committee in office with Alan now Chair rather than Acting Chair. The Committee were pleased that the Society’s first real meeting had proved successful. Given the circumstances, an attendance of 19 together with a dozen apologies was very satisfactory.

  1. Structure of Committee Meetings

Alan explained that we are trying to develop a standard agenda with reports on various aspects of the Committee’s work. This first agenda is experimental but over time we hope that a clearer pattern will emerge with Committee members taking the lead on particular aspects.

The suggested structure worked quite well but related topics were often discussed together and for the minutes it seems better to group the headings.

  1. Finance

Currently payment for membership and courses is by cheque. In future the opportunity to pay by BACS will be made available.

It was confirmed that the annual membership fee will increase to £10 per year.

Payment to lecturers will be £75 for each talk or for each session of a longer course.

The basic cost of running an event will therefore be c£135 (Lecturer £75 and Room Hire c£60). The cost of lectures will be covered by membership fees and cost of courses by course fees. Currently these are set at £5 per session but this requires an enrolment of 27 people to break even. Peter suggested that we should look at raising the fee to £6 per session so that enrolment of 20 would be close to the break-even point.

  1. Programme of Events/Event Management/Health and Safety

The following Autumn programme was agreed.

Friday 17th September – Talk on A.E.Housman – A Shropshire Lad by Christine Vasey

Monday 27th September – First session of 10 week course on Norman Kings and Queens by Peter Firth

Monday 29th November – Final Session of Peter’s Course

Friday 10th December Talk – Speaker and Title to be announced

It is hoped that the delayed visit to Scarisbrick Hall will take place in March/April 2022. Roger will make contact with Suzie about dates.

There was discussion about how we can best use our venue at All Saints. As a consequence of Covid precautions, a return to the smaller room feels less appropriate than formerly. The large room is light and airy but it presents problems of heating and the acoustics are not good. At the AGM speakers were not always fully audible. On the plus side, the big room does have a satisfactory ‘grey out’ and the wall at the far end will probably work as a screen. All Saints has a new team looking after lettings and Alan agreed to work with them to find the best arrangements. It may be necessary to use a microphone and speaker system.

The provision of refreshments at meetings was also briefly discussed. Health and Safety needs to be considered but present numbers attending meetings and courses means that this has to be a self help operation. Refreshments at meetings are provided free of charge (i.e. paid for out of subscriptions) but for courses, those attending organise refreshments on a rota system and pay a small amount – currently 20p. As we move towards a cashless society, it may be worth including refreshments in the course fee, especially if the fee is raised to £6 per session (see final paragraph of Finance section).

  1. Promotion, Membership and Forum

There was very strong support both from the AGM and from the Committee for a monthly edition of Forum providing articles but also details of society events. A gap of 2 months between editions was felt to be too long. The Committee were aware that their discussion was taking place without John and the burden of production and distribution largely falls on him. Mary and Christine kindly offered their help, No decision can yet be taken, but we hope to have an August edition advertising the autumn programme and reminding people of annual subscription followed by a September edition marking the effective start of the programme.

There were several useful ideas about publicising the society programme. These included:

  • Posters and Flysheets – especially in Libraries and Meeting Places
  • A Membership Card including future programme
  • ‘Banners’ with the Society’s name – Alan agreed to investigate further
  • Facebook
  • Encourage friends, acquaintances and other contacts to join SUES
  • Direct contact with ‘partner institutions’ such as U3A, Soroptimists, Rotary, Arts Society

A more ambitious long-term policy might involve greater use of Zoom with lectures (and possibly courses) being recorded by a camera operator for those not able to attend. We are keen to bring SUES to the widest possible community but we do need to know that there is real audience out there. A less ambitious but more realistic policy is to put lectures on the Website. It was hoped that this would be possible for Christine’s September talk on Housman.

  1. Connections

It was confirmed that, while retaining our longstanding link with Liverpool we would also welcome connections with all other local universities.

Peter agreed to follow up on this.

(As a result of the AGM, Andrew Wilcockson, one of our members, wrote an interesting email related to this topic. It follows as Appendix 1.)

  1. AOB

With limited time, other matters were left over to the next meeting.

  1. Next Committee Meeting

It was agreed to hold the next committee meeting by Zoom on Friday 30th August at 4.30pm.

Roger Mitchell
July 2021

Appendix 1 – From Andrew Wilcockson

I want to float one of two ideas re SUES. You may feel them outside the group’s remit, or of no special merit to the evolution of the group. Rejection won’t offend, I assure you.

1. While still honouring Liverpool University, I think the wider focus of all universities is a good idea, and this thinking has been one of the positives of lock-down. My old school, Scarisbrick Hall, has introduced the Global Classroom, with lectures by distinguished speakers being delivered into the classrooms/assembly halls, to the delight of pupils.

2. Edge Hill University has on the English staff Prof Paul Ward, who has a passion for local history. At the Ormskirk History Society, of which I’m Chairman, we are finding him a willing and enthusiastic ally. An excellent speaker, who delivers one-off talks very successfully. He has a small team of students who are working on recording the history of Ormskirk, before much is diluted by the huge influx of students. Bit of a irony there!

3. Scarisbrick Hall has a series of VIth form lectures each year, some of the speakers coming from neighbouring universities. The talks can cover law, ethics, medicine, amongst other topics. I’ve attended some in the past and they clearly inspire the students. Would it be worth SUES sponsoring, say, one talk to the VIth form/seniors? Or maybe you would consider a venue like KGV? The reason I say this is two-fold: engagement with the younger generation; raising the group’s profile. I’d been retired in Southport for about six years and heard of SUES’ existence more or less by chance, and so I feel ways of advertising, without appearing vulgar!, would be in everyone’s best interests.

I’m a member of the Newman Association in Liverpool, a group of older Catholic clergy and laymen. However, I’ve driven home the benefits of engaging with the student body at Liverpool Uni, Hope and JM, and this has generated some real interest.

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