SUES Committee Meeting: 21/09/2021

Present – Alan Potter (Chair), Margaret Boneham, Peter Firth, Roger Mitchell, John Sharp.

Apologies – Bob Neate, Mary Ormsby, Christine Vasey

The meeting took place via Zoom


The minutes of the Committee Meeting on 3rd September were approved. The minutes now become ‘Archive’ and will be available on Website.

Matters Arising

These are covered under the headings below.


John reported that we now have 49 paid up members for 2021-2 and we hope that numbers will continue to grow. 19 members are enrolled for Peter’s Course, 22 for Roger’s and 13 for Alan’s. This was seen as very encouraging, especially as there is time for further enrolments. Income received is approaching £3,000. Even so, we will probably not reach a ‘break even’ point of c27 enrolments per course. However, we are not under financial pressure to cover all costs and it was felt to be ‘in the spirit of the bequest’ to ensure quality and to raise the profile of the society. If enrolments for any course reach 25, John will contact lecturers to check that they are happy with larger groups. Higher numbers might also cause accommodation problems (see below).


Bob had sent a financial update.

‘We had £54761.27 at the Bank on 31 August.

Today John dropped off an envelope with recent receipts, and bills relating to the laptop. From this I estimate the current financial position to be:

                                                 Bank   54761.27

                     Recent BACS receipts      300.00

                       Cheques/cash to bank  600.00


                        Bill to pay                    ( 119.99)


In passing I would mention that banking has become more inconvenient. HSBC on Lord Street discontinued its counter service from last week end, so cheques have either to be paid through a machine in the lobby (with which I have fought battles in the past!) or through the Post Office.


Our programme for 2021-2 is complete except for a speaker for the final meeting and AGM in June 2022.

Peter’s Course has its first session next week.

Event Management

Last week’s meeting was very successful and particular thanks were expressed to Christine for a high quality lecture, to Peter for coming to the rescue with his projector, and to Margaret for the smooth running of refreshments – two servers proved sufficient. The problem with the Society’s Projector has now been fixed and a missing HDMI Cable has been ordered. This should ensure compatibility with all laptops.

It was agreed that we need introductory information for chair or acting chair to use when opening and closing the meeting. Items such as welcome, fire exits, refreshments, vote of thanks etc should be included and there should also be a section on risk assessment. Alan agreed to produce a draft and to circulate it to the committee.

It was noted that the new layout of the large hall had resolved audibility problems. Christine’s decision not to use a microphone in the large hall had been the right one. Her talk was clear and easy to listen to and, without a microphone, it was easier to manage the audio visuals and to retain the informal atmosphere that works so well.

However, other speakers and other venues might want a microphone and at some future point, a purchase may be appropriate.

Arrangements for the first session of Peter’s Course next week are in place. Several course members are not able to attend and with c15 expected, there should be plenty of space in the smaller room. The continuing need for some social distancing, means that we may need to set a maximum group size for the smaller room and check that this will be sufficient for future courses.

It should be possible for the group to establish a rota for refreshments. Alan will hand over the refreshment bag, apparently overflowing with spare digestive biscuits. to Peter and petty cash will be provided for the purchase of milk and biscuits and, on occasion, new supplies of tea and coffee.

For health and safety purposes a course register will be drawn up and circulated at meetings. We intend to keep to the Liverpool CE policy on fees and attendance and so, regardless of attendance, fees will only be returned in exceptional circumstances. Given the high numbers, we will not be encouraging visitors to single sessions, but lecturers should use their discretion on this, particularly if someone wants to attend a taster before enrolling.

Promotion and Publicity

Following on from the discussion at the previous meeting, Alan has investigated the purchase of ‘pull up posters’ for use at our meetings and for occasions when we attend other meetings to promote SUES eg a possible talk about SUES and the University Extension movement that is pencilled in for Rotary in 2022. These poster/banners cost c£100 each.

This purchase was supported by the committee but it can only go ahead, when more work has been done on establishing our ‘brand’. General discussion raised a number of areas that needed to be clarified. These included the website, a new logo (or use of that on the Membership Cards) and perhaps a motto or strapline. For this, we are looking for something pithy, ambitious, and welcoming, stressing that SUES is serious but fun. We would like to include the word ‘Academic’, but not if it risked putting people off. We must remain open to all – ‘no previous experience needed’. Peter’s suggestion of ‘Promoting Greater Academic Enjoyment Together’ seemed a good starting point.

It was agreed that Committee members should let Alan have their ideas.


As usual. John has produced an excellent September Forum and there is enough material for October, especially if Committee members can start the ball rolling with a response to Roger’s article. We hope that we can include more articles that stimulate discussion and debate.

Connections With HE

Roger’s email to Glenn and his very positive response (see below) were welcomed. It was agreed that Alan and Peter should arrange a Zoom session so that together they could produce a letter for HE institutions in the area. It was stressed that we write from a position of strength. We are active with a thriving membership and a healthy bank balance and so we can help them spread the word in Southport and beyond.


It was agreed that we should continue our subscription for Zoom, even though we may use it less. Its use for Committee meetings was widely welcomed.

As we look ahead, we hope to establish particular responsibilities for Committee Members. One of our main aims should be to spread the work around so that nobody has too many areas to manage. Alan agreed to send round an initial list and the rest of the Committee thanked him for all that he had done to move the Society forward.

Next Committee Meeting

Monday 8th November at 4.30pm by Zoom.

Roger Mitchell

September 2021

Appendix – Emails between SUES (Roger) and Liverpool CE (Glenn) Sept 2021

Dear Glenn

The start of the new Academic Year is a good point to make contact and the SUES Committee have aske me to update you with our plans and to show our support for the way that you are turning a crisis into an opportunity with your wide programme of blended learning.

Inevitably our response is considerably more modest, but we have managed to keep the society together with various Zoom activities, a real AGM with members’ contributions and no fewer than 22 editions of Forum since the pandemic began. I attach a copy of Forum 22, our most recent publication, because it gives up to date information about what we hope to provide for our 2021=2 season. It is clear that our members want to get back to face to face meetings as long as these can be provided safely and already all three courses have reached double figures and are therefore viable. For this year, we are using our own members to teach the courses – Peter Firth, Alan Potter and me, but if all goes well, we hope to extend our programme next year and hope to be in contact with you to see if you can help us to widen our range of lecturers.

We very much want to retain and strengthen our links with you but realise that circumstances have changed and will continue to do so.

Very best wishes for a successful year.


(Roger Mitchell – Secretary SUES) 

Dear Roger and Alan,

Good to hear from you! Very relieved to hear that SUES is looking healthy despite all of this nonsense. Of course, all due to your diligence. Peter’s too, I suspect – please pass my best on to him and all the members.

Please do keep in touch.

Sincere apologies for the brief reply – start of term looming and all. Hopefully an in-person cup of tea and a chat in Southport with you all before too long!

As ever,


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