Annual General Meeting 2010 Chairman’s Report

Jonathan McCaffertyLooking back on a very busy & successful year for the Society, I hope that members will agree that the following are of note:

London Weekend 2009
I wish to record my appreciation for all those who worked to ensure that our London Weekend last year was such a success. To Jane Arnold Foster and to Catherine Cooke for our pub meeting at the Warrington Hotel and our splendid canal trip to London Zoo; to Roger Johnson and all the Old Court Radio Theatre Company players for our theatrical evening at The Old Doctor Butler’s Head; and to our President, Guy Marriott, for putting together a wonderful charabanc trip to Minstead, with a most unconventional Evensong service. Thanks especially to Catherine Cooke for her hard work in pulling it all together.

Cricket Match 2009
The Society secured a magnificent victory over the Golden Bats of the P.G. Wodehouse Society. It is especially good to be able to report three young members, Robert Hamill, Edward Hamill and George Gross, all attending their first meeting, provided sterling service to the Society’s team. Caps off to Peter Horrocks for a magnificent captaincy, and to Nick Utechin for responding to our Society’s call despite his injuries. I unhesitatingly encourage a much greater attendance by our members and friends at this year’s match.

Edinburgh – Summer Expedition 2009
It was important and appropriate for the Society to mark Conan Doyle’s 150th anniversary and we were fortunate to find such sunny days in Scotland’s capital. Well done to Bob and Judi Ellis for a fantastic job.

RLG Lecture 2009
All who attended will agree that this was an excellent evening, in the best traditions of our Society. David Timson proved an enthralling and expert lecturer. After the meeting Nicholas Soames, producer of Naxos Audiobooks, kindly donated a full set of Mr. Timson’s Sherlockian recordings to the Society’s collection at Westminster Library.

Annual Dinner 2010
In an exemplary display of organisational skill – often extemporising to fill last minute cancellations due to the snow – Catherine Cooke triumphed in producing a splendidly organised dinner. Well done also to our Membership Secretary, David Jones, for successfully approaching Ruth Rendell, to be our dinner speaker. In addition we were delighted to welcome Tim Piggott Smith as the Society’s guest.

The Langham Hotel Plaque.
The Society, in conjunction with the Oscar Wilde Society has been able to ensure that London now has a new landmark to commemorate the centenary of the meeting which led to the publication of the Sign of Four. The plaque was successfully revealed to an admiring crowd by Gyles Brandreth on a rainy morning on 19th. March 2010: as this involved Gyles clambering around a garden perimeter wall, the Deputy Mayor of Westminster (complete in Civic frills) did not follow suit.

Maiwand Meeting and a Special Presentation
We were fortunate in our main speaker, Colonel Mike Cornwell OBE, who gave us an authoritative account of the battle and its aftermath. We received a report of contemporary Maiwand from our Swiss member Marcus Geisser, who is in Afghanistan today with the International Red Cross. Dr Auberon Redfearn then discussed Dr Watson’s wandering war wound. We were able to use this meeting to present Auberon with honorary Membership and give Lynne Godden the 2010 Tony Howlett Award, as snow had prevented their attendance at the Annual Dinner.

A Day at the Races: The Silver Blaze Wessex Cup.
Congratulations and many thanks are due to Bob Ellis for organising our Society’s first race meeting at Kempton Park. Our former meetings secretary, Pam Bruxner, was the Society’s guest of honour. Sir Peter O’Sullevan came as our celebratory guest – and gave at least one very good tip to the assembled company. There was a big take–up of members and their friends and I know that everyone had a great day out.

Our 21st Century Website
I must pay tribute to Jonny Hough for his first rate work in updating and improving our website. This proved invaluable during the publicity associated with Guy Ritchie’s new film, and during the launch week website visitors totalled 3,611. Podcasts have proved a markedly popular new feature of our site. Thanks must also go to Carrie Chandler for taking a lead on the Facebook pages, so adding to the Society’s digital arsenal

Farewell to members of Council
I must pay tribute to two Council members who have to resign upon completing their terms of office; Jane Arnold Foster and Bob Ellis. Jane has put in a lot of hard work, often behind the scenes, to make sure that events have gone without a hitch; and Bob has made a tremendous contribution throughout the past year and previously both through his work as Membership Secretary and in publishing the Society’s many works. I would wish to take this opportunity to mention David Jones, who has completed his first year as Bob’s successor in the demanding role of Membership Secretary and ensured that the service to our membership has continued smoothly and efficiently.

In closing, please allow me to give thanks on behalf of the Society to all members of the Council, as well as those mentioned above, Calvert Markham our Treasurer, Heather Owen our co-editor and others who have worked hard in pursuing various goals over the past year. I count myself a lucky chairman to be amongst such enthusiastic, skilled & committed company.

Jonathan McCafferty
May 2010.

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