My President’s report for 2019 was prepared for the 2020 AGM scheduled for March 30th 2020. In it I said that I hoped to deliver it verbally to members at some point in 2020, perhaps before a Members’ meeting.
As we all know that was impossible with two COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 and another early in 2021. We have not been able to meet for a year as the 2020 AGM was the first meeting to be cancelled. So my 2019 report was published in our Liberation 75 journal for July 2020, with my father in his naval uniform on the front cover.
I am now writing another report in another lockdown which our government calls ‘light’. We have kept in touch via Mailchimp, a new initiative arranged for us by Stewart Hill, our Webmaster. However that only reached those who have desktops, laptops or smart phones. Therefore it was necessary for my coronavirus letters to appear in the journals.
We are all grateful to both Sue Payn, our Journal editor, and to Stewart for enabling us to maintain contact with you all. I also want to thank John Reed, a CIFHS member who subscribes to Zoom. He has patiently arranged our Executive Council meetings to go ahead online and keeps an eye on us in case there is a technical hitch.
I was keen to get the 2020 and 2021 AGMs out of the way, even if by rather unorthodox means. So I anticipate these AGMs to go ahead before our next Zoom committee meeting on February 2nd. We shall get through the usual business and record the minutes for the Journal. We decided that the current committee members would continue through 2021 until we are able to meet at the 2022 AGM.
We have not received any comments from members about these ad-hoc arrangements so we hope that you agree to them for the sake of continuity. It would have been very awkward to sort out signed nomination papers and signed-off accounts. The 2020 accounts will remain in draft form until Colin Cheney, our Treasurer, can get together online with Rosie Boleat, our Hon. Auditor.
We have had to make impromptu decisions on the administration of the Society as the year progressed. We shall ask you to support a minor rule change at the 2022 AGM to cover unavoidable delays in the date of any AGM; at present the rule insists it is held in March each year.
2019 was difficult and I do not need to emphasise that 2020 was worse. We hope that members stick with us and renew their memberships. This pertains to other family history societies, as well as other local voluntary organizations. It is heartening to know that Richard Gallichan and John Noel continue to help with enquiries though the closure of the Jersey Archive, the Société Jersiaise Library and the Office of the Superintendent Registrar impedes their efforts.
Doreen Reed, our Meetings Organiser, has kept in touch with our speakers scheduled for 2020. They are all willing to commit to a new diary of dates in the future for which we are most grateful. Margaret Cabot, our Press Officer, is ready to go when we have something positive to report. Daniel Benest, Publications Officer, keeps an eye on our postbox and fulfils our publications orders. Stewart Hill has spent some time researching family history websites during the present lockdown; our current website is looking rather tired so we need to have a complete re-design later this year. Our bank balance is healthy so we can afford the investment.
I cannot tell when our monthly meetings will resume as the Société Jersiaise has had to close again. We do hope that a summer outing might be possible and we have one planned (to St Martin’s Roman Catholic Cemetery). Also we will be hesitant in providing our modest refreshments to members until we feel more confident.
On the wider stage, we are waiting for news of the UK 1921 Census Online; I wrote about the press release dated February 2019 in the July 2019 journal. There has been no further news from Findmypast, and I do not know if their schedule has been disrupted by Covid-19. The website will want to exploit the online version for at least a year after the publication date of January 2022. So this brings us to 2023 before we can expect any news.
I wish you all the very best in 2021 and I look forward to meeting again in the future when we have had our vaccinations and feel ready to meet again.