13 April 2019

 All Day Meeting: ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING & Live Auction  

The following appeared in Newsletter 320 (Summer 2019)

The AGM started with our President (Richard Berry FRPSL) welcoming those present to the meeting.  He then led a moments silence in the memory of members who had died during the year, in particular our two distinguished and highly respected Honorary Life Members Keith Tranmer and Alistair Kennedy, other members Martin Ellam, Brian Standley and Dr R E Tanner and lapsed member Ze’ev Galibov.  All those present approved the Minutes of the 66th meeting with no matters arising.  Apologies were recorded in the attendance book.  

In his opening address our President (Richard Berry FRPSL) said that the second year of his presidency had passed - actually it had flown by!  We have had another full programme of meetings including for the first time one which involved a Powerpoint presentation and unusually from someone who was there - there in the sense that Brian Robertson actually managed the ambulance trains during the tail end of the cold war in BAOR. He thanked Peter High for arranging yet again an interesting programme and also to all those who gave presentations and displayed their treasures at club competitions and joint society displays.  The breadth of what came under the forces postal history banner was wide and expanding and should continue to be challenged to ensure that the Society remained in good health.  The Society also displayed at Autumn Stampex 2018 and provided displays of material to celebrate the centenary of the end of the First World War - those who displayed were to be congratulated for putting on a fine show. 

However, his abiding memory for the past year was the sad loss of Alastair Kennedy, our oldest member in terms of longevity with the Society and those from the Society who had pulled together to protect Alastair's philatelic legacy. He especially thanked Nick Colley and his wife and Peter High and Michael Dobbs; there were others and the Society also expressed its thanks to you; also to those who continued to give generously and appropriately when Alastair's excess material was brought along to Society meetings.  The engagement of Argyll Etkin by the family should also see some substantial returns to them; however he reminded the membership of other opportunities to purchase those elusive items for their collection with the Society auction that Geoff Hanney had organised for this day and encouraged members to bid strong and bid hard.  There was a serious lesson from Alastair's passing for us all to try and make life as easy for your philatelic legators.  Although the Society could give advice about what to do when the inevitable happens it might not be able to spend a huge amount of time dealing with a philatelic estate.  Continuing on a more positive Another thank you went to Peter High for his organisation of another successful War and Philately event.  He said that research and publication of forces related postal history was strong as exhibited by the books submitted for the Harry Cope Award and the articles submitted to our Journal.  He also had to read all the articles in order to award the Alan Brown trophy for the best article but more about that later. The articles couldn't be produced without an editor and our thanks must, of course, go to Chris Grimshaw and also for the support offered by Colin Tabeart in its printing and distribution.  The Journal and Newsletter (thank you Michael Dobbs) was our most outward facing product and for many members throughout the UK and worldwide was their only real link with the Society - they receive a very fine product.  Colin and Martin Hopkinson, who had ably been our membership secretary, had both stood down after many years service and all should applaud their efforts on our behalf.  Richard said he couldn't have led the Society this past year without the Committee and all their efforts were to be applauded for the time they freely gave ensuring the Society functioned so well.  In finishing his remarks Richard said that it was members that made the Society and that he had really enjoyed his second year at the helm enjoying your company.

The Hon. Secretary (Michael Dobbs) had prepared the usual four Newsletters that go out with our Journal - the number of pages and illustrations varied depending on what he was able to achieve - usually 8 pages with one 12 page edition.  This involved writing up reports of our meetings which he knew some members found extremely useful.  He also sent out a Society email on at least a monthly basis along with other useful information including relevant emails from other organisations such as ABPS, The Postal Museum, Stamp Active Network and the Royal Philatelic Society London.  He aims to keep the Society in the public eye with news reports in ABPS News and we were also featured under the ‘society spotlight’ heading in the January 2019 edition of “Stamp Collector” (the re-branded “Stamp & Coin Mart” magazine).  He maintained liaison with our webmaster (Bob Bruce) to keep our website up-to-date and also maintains access to the Discussion Forum and frequently contributes to that Forum and expressed his grateful thanks to Bob for maintaining our website and the work Bob continues to do on our behalf.  He mentioned that we had a growing number of displays on our website for all (public and members) to see - several of which were associated with meeting displays and others from members collections - and he thanked Nick Colley for taking the lead on this and for liaising with Bob Bruce our Webmaster.  Michael also liaised with the Union Jack Club over our monthly meetings, future meeting dates and changes to meeting rooms or dates as situations change.  In addition he liaised with other officers on such matters as the compilation and production of the Programme Card, winners certificates and medal engravings, as well as membership changes and committee issues.  He is also the first port of call for enquiries to the Society and for 2018 he had received around 50 enquiries via our website and a few others direct (several from returning contacts with new queries) and so far this year he had received 8 enquiries.  Some for specific publications are passed directly to Peter High to deal with.

Packet Secretary (Ian Muchall) reported that this year we had received £139.10 commission on sales which was less than last year, due to the fact that fewer packets were circulated, as a result of having less material to circulate.  The total value of material circulated was £4,700.  A further packet had been finalised since the end of the year.  He mentioned that for several years he had been reliant on 3 or 4 regular contributors for material; however this year he had a substantial amount of Alistair Kennedy’s estate to circulate and was currently in the process of sorting several hundreds of covers into packets for future circulation.  He was willing to continue in post but sadly felt that on-line sales via ebay etc were having an effect on the popularity of Club packets, due to quicker sales returns and wider circulation. 

Librarian (Richard Berry FRPSL) reported that it had been another quiet year regarding the acquisition of new publications and the number of loans made. The numbers in each category was less than ten. However, some notable researchers had used the library which made holding of it at his home worthwhile for the foreseeable future.  Richard will endeavour to find time this coming year to update the listing held on our website.

Our London Meetings Organiser (Peter High) reported that his aim was always to put forward a varied programme hopefully to suit and interest all members who attended out London meetings.  As always he would welcome suggestions from the membership, so please let him know if you have seen a good display given at one of your local society meetings.  The 2018 season saw two guest speakers giving us displays of superb material.  One of the highlights of the year, as already explained, was the Society’s invited display at Stampex in September, as a direct result of which we signed up four new members.  War & Philately reached its 7th year at Banstead in August with an increased number of attendees.  We would again take the Community Hall at Banstead this coming year and Peter hopes to see you there.  Dealers last year all wanted to come back this coming year which says something so please do come along and support the event.  The Society makes a small profit from this fair.  He went on to say that for 2019 we had much to look forward to with two joint meetings with other societies and would welcome suggestions if you know of another society or study group who would like to join us at the UJC - we share costs for these events and see material which otherwise we might not.  Regarding costs, the increased fees and changed booking procedures that the UJC imposed last year made us think carefully about whether we have an all day or half day meeting.  It was a pity that the Gascoigne Suite in the basement was now out of our reach, but the Burns Room and the Reserved Bar Lounge downstairs gave us sufficient space for our needs.  Lastly, Peter thanked all for attending our London meetings and encouraged all to attend Midpex on 6 July 2019 where the Society would have a table and small display.

Journal Editor (Chris Grimshaw) - sadly no report had been received at the time of publication of this Newsletter.

Membership Secretary (Martin Hopkinson FRPSL) in his written report stated that in the year between the two AGMs there had been 16 applications to join or re-join the FPHS (13 new members and three re-joining). This was an improvement on the previous year helped by one new member resulting from the Banstead meeting and four from our presence at Stampex.  Apart from these five, the pattern of recent years has continued with most new members approaching us via the website, and with the subscription payments made by PayPal (7 of the 16) underlining again how important the website is to our Society.  Current worldwide membership stood at 241, but with some members still to renew.  He went on to state that last year he advised the Committee that he would stand down as membership secretary at this year’s AGM, and it was with regret that he was unable to be present to hand-over to his successor as he took over from the late Keith Tranmer, some12 years ago.  He gave his successor every good wishes, and trusted he would enjoy being part of the FPHS team as much as he had.

Our Auction Manager (Geoff Hanney) reported that he had run two successful postal auctions during the past year but was always looking for material.  There will be more material from the collections and accumulations of the late Alistair Kennedy to dispose of in future auctions.

Publicity Secretary (Peter Harvey) was able to attend the meeting and gave his report verbally - he said that he could not start any report without a thank you to our Honorary Secretary for the work that he did in publicising the society and its activities and went on to say that it clearly was the case that his efforts alone were significant in raising the profile of the Society and its activities both internally and externally in the wider philatelic world. He said that during the past year he had continued to send advance notice of our London meetings and reports to the UK philatelic press. Clearly, it was a challenge to get these reports published as we were looking for free publication space alongside other societies and he only noted one or two published reports or references a year.  A standard FPHS advertisement has appeared during this past year alongside forces postal history sales with auctioneers Warwick and Warwick and Cavendish Auctions.  War and Philately continued to be our best publicity event, with details carried by the philatelic press, many dealers (attending and otherwise) and also through many collectors’ websites, examples being the Stamp Fair Diary, Collectors World and the Stamping Ground.  Other publicity efforts were focused on the Societies on-line presence, with direct links from other societies such as the British Postmark Society, GBPS etc, and postal history dealers. These are maintained and included links with the Civil Censor Study Group and the Military Postal History Society in the USA, to name a few.  Moving into 2019/20 he was looking to promote the Society further on the Internet as a preferred option, to include Facebook using existing specialist collecting pages, through links to the Society website (the display pages). He also planned to ask overseas members for support in publicising the Society in their country and through local philatelic press.  Lastly he asked any members giving a society display, either in the UK or overseas to contact him directly to see if there would be a publicity opportunity. 

Treasurer’s Report and Acceptance of the financial statements: The Hon Treasurer (Alan Baker) presented his report and the accounts for the year 2018/19.  Our overall position is that we had a deficit of some £1,600 but that we had budgeted for a deficit, but the higher amount was due to the cost of our display at Stampex.  Subscriptions were down and packet sales were down.  The sale of John Daynes material the previous year was not repeated, although net income from Banstead was up.  Room hire had also increased, but our Journal publication costs were down due to Colin Tabeart changing our printer, with no reduction in the quality.  Our membership stood at 244, down 3 from 2018; 75 members have opted to go paperless.  As at the AGM some 50 members had not yet renewed for this current year, which is on a par with previous years.  We still had a healthy balance which would hold us in good stead for some years, provided we can at least keep deficits under control.  Alan did not feel that an increase in subscriptions could be justified; he therefore recommended no increase in subscriptions for 2020 and had assumed a standstill position for the next three years.  However he emphasised that considering this to remember that if we did not make a small increase from time to time, we would have to make a much larger one at some time in the future, which could have a detrimental effect on membership numbers.  On a vote the membership unanimously agreed to the acceptance of the accounts and no increase in subscriptions for next year.  Copies of the accounts and balance sheet appear elsewhere in the Newsletter.

The President (Richard Berry FRPSL) announced that he had read all the relevant Journals and had decided to award the Alan Brown Trophy to Francis Rodrigues for his article in Society Journal 319 (Spring 2019) on “World War II - American and Japanese repatriation exchanges in Lourenço Marques and Mormugao” as it represented a subject not previously covered in our Journal, was well written and also showed some in-depth research.

The Secretary formally announced that earlier in the year the Committee had decided to award the Harry Cope Memorial Award for literature for 2019 jointly to John Davis for his “Egypt: From the Postal Concession until Suez 1932 to 1956 (Part II - Commonwealth and Other Allied Forces through World War II)” and Dr Michael H Gould for his “British Naval Post & Censor Marks of the First World War Volume 2”.

The President announced that the Committee wished to put forward the following names for consideration of Honorary Life Membership:

Martin Hopkinson - Martin had been our Membership Secretary for some considerable time - even though distance has precluded him from attending London meetings.  He took over from Keith Tranmer 12 years ago at the 2007 AGM and had been only our second dedicated membership secretary.  He was finally standing down at this AGM and it would be a fitting way of recognising his service to make him an Honorary Life Member.  All present voted in favour - carried.

Colin Tabeart RDP, APR, FSPH - Colin had also served the Society for many years.  He took over as Editor from our Spring 2005 edition, producing the journal and liaising with the various printers regarding the whole journal package (journal, newsletter and auction list). During his time he has improved the look and quality of our publication, turning it from a Newsletter into a high quality Journal.  In doing so he has achieved savings in costs, while maintaining its quality. He was also instrumental in arranging for our journal package to be posted directly to members by the printer and for setting up the Dropbox record of members that relieved two members of these tasks, as well as being instrumental in introducing the scheme for paperless subscriptions.  He was also responsible for finding us a competent and enthusiastic webmaster who has transformed our website and kept it fully current in conjunction with our Hon Secretary, and has acted as a Moderator of the Discussion Forum. Finally, he was a member of the working group looking into ways of carrying the Society forward.

Colin had previously handed over the editorship of the journal and has now stood down from his other duties.  As with Martin, making him an Honorary Life Member would be a fitting way of showing our appreciation.  All present voted in favour - carried.

Michael Dobbs - the President said that it gave him great pleasure during the recent AGM to turf our current Hon. Secretary, Michael Dobbs, out of the meeting room. The reason being I wanted to put to those in attendance that I thought Michael deserved elevation to Honorary Life Membership of our society.  Michael Dobbs has been a member of the Committee of the FPHS for 43 years.  During that time he was our Vice-President from 2000-03 and President from 2003-05. He has also during three separate spells managed to rack up a magnificent total of over 25 years as our Hon. Secretary - the most onerous position in the Society.   Michael first started as Hon. Secretary in 1976, two years after joining the Society. He started his current ongoing stint in 2005 and it is only during this period of office I have got to know Michael and see how tirelessly he works for us all. Michael is a stalwart of the Society and it is dedicated officers such as him that have ensured that we have such a vibrant society. Michael undertakes many tasks on behalf of the Society - I know because he keeps telling me (and others) all the things he does on our behalf!  The proposal to award Honorary Life Membership was seconded by Robin Davis (our Senior Vice-President) and was met with unanimous public acclaim. Michael was visibly moved when invited back into the meeting room and told the great news. He accepted. Well done Michael - much deserved and I was honoured to propose you for the finest recognition the Society can give.

All officers resigned at the AGM and were eligible for re-election and all current post holders (with the exception of the Membership Secretary) were willing to stand again.  Derek Ransom proposed and Lorraine Maguire seconded that they all be re-elected en-bloc - all agreed: 

Hon Secretary

Michael Dobbs


Richard Berry

Hon Treasurer

Alan Baker


Chris Grimshaw

Packet Secretary

Ian Muchall

Auction Manager

Geoff Hanney

Programme Secretary

Peter High

Publicity Secretary

Peter Harvey

Derek Ransom proposed and Lorraine Maguire seconded that Chris Stephany Weddell be elected as Membership Secretary - all agreed.

The two existing Committee members (Nick Colley and Peter O’Keeffe) had also agreed to stand again - they were proposed by Robin Davis and seconded by Ian Muchall - all agreed.

Nick Colley proposed and Alan Baker seconded that Ian Muchall be elected as Hon Independent Examiner - all agreed.  

Peter High reminded all of the War & Philately stamp and postal history fair is to be held at the Banstead Community Hall, Park Road, Banstead, Surrey SM7 2AJ on Saturday 10 August 2019 from 10am to 4pm.  The Hall had been booked and even though there had been a slight increase in fees this year, it would still provide a small surplus for Society funds.  The event has gone from strength to strength and almost all dealers had expressed a desire to return this year.  He expected a variety of dealers in stamps, postal history, postcards and ephemera as well as local philatelic societies' displays to be present.  This was a general stamp and postal history fair with refreshments available and plenty of free parking spaces.  Once again he requested help in setting the Hall up on the Friday afternoon.  

Peter High, our London Meetings Organiser, outlined the programme so far for next year which included one guest speaker (member Tony Walker on the RNAS Armoured Cars) and a joint meeting with the British Postmark Society at Autumn Stampex.  We will have an open meeting at London 2020 and our usual competitions, AGM and New Acquisitions and Queries.  He referred to his earlier report so if you have any suggestions as to future meeting topics, speakers or joint meetings please contact Peter.

The Secretary reminded those present that the Society had booked a table at MIDPEX this year - venue Warwickshire Exhibition Centre, Leamington Spa, CV31 1XN  on Saturday 6th July 2019  from 10am until 4.30pm.  He would welcome volunteers to staff the table and also encouraged those members attending to visit us.

The Secretary then explained the item headed “Donation to the ‘Royal’ - Ballot of members”.  Many members will be aware that The Royal Philatelic Society London (‘Royal’) has acquired new premises in London and that in common with many other societies we have received an email from the President of the ‘Royal’ inviting us to donate as a society towards the refurbishment of the new premises.  The Committee has decided to put a proposal to all our members and not limited to those who attended the AGM and so we intend to put this to a ballot of all members in our Summer Journal package.  There was some discussion on the proposal and in particular how much be donated.  In response the Secretary stated no figure had been agreed but that it would not exceed £1,000 and could be considerably less than that.  Nick Colley mentioned that Alistair Kennedy was a Fellow of the ‘Royal’ and that the commission we received in relation to the sale of his material could well form the basis of a donation and that it would be a fitting tribute to Alistair and his knowledge and enthusiasm for the hobby.  Peter High said that the donation should not be viewed as a sum merely to assist the ‘Royal’ in their move to new premises, but as an investment for the future of our hobby, for future research and the preservation of a philatelic legacy through the Museum of Philatelic History.  In response to another question the Secretary stated there would be no “pros and cons” listed, just a straightforward statement of the request from the ‘Royal’ and the committee decision and proposal to put it to a vote of all the members.

Any Other Business:

The President reminded the meeting that at Stockholmia 2019 (29 May - 2 June 2019) - the international celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Royal Philatelic Society London - he had arranged to have a room (for free) on the Thursday of the show for a couple of hours for a meeting of the FPHS.  This would be our first overseas meeting - which would be open to anyone with an interest in military mail.

Geoff Hanney reported on work in progress in looking into the names of listed on the War Memorial of The Gresham Club who served in The Great War 1914-1919 which has been refurbished.  The Gresham Club was founded in 1843 as a dining club for the professional classes of the City of London and named originally after Sir Thomas Gresham, a celebrated Elizabethan merchant who founded the Royal Exchange. The Club moved to Abchurch Lane, London EC4 in 1915 - now the new home of The Royal Philatelic Society London.  In carrying out his research and to acknowledge help received Geoff will ensure that the name of the Society will be included in the final documentation.

There being no further business the President declared the meeting closed at 12.10pm.

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