The Chairman's Message
by Captain Jeff Thomas

As published in the July 2003 magazine

My final message as your Chairman starts on a sad note. It is with very much regret that I have to advise on the passing away of two of our UK members, namely John Edmonds and George Scott. John, as many of you will know was a very long serving and active member of our Group, having himself served as Chairman at one period. He regularly made the long journey from Somerset to London to attend our meetings and he will be sadly missed by all. George has been a member of our Group for many years. Our condolences to the families of both John and George.

In January of this year the Committee met for its annual formal meeting at the Union Jack Club in London. I am pleased to advise that all Committee members were present, including Marigold Mann who was attending for the first time. It was a full day with a wide range of Group issues being discussed and the following salient points emerged and agreed where applicable.

Our membership of the UK Group remains at 150, with some new members joining to replace members whose membership has lapsed. As agreed at the last AGM, the issue of Group subscriptions for the forthcoming membership year, commencing in July, was fully discussed. Alan Game, our Treasurer advised that based upon 150 members the present cost to the Group per member for all its activities was £7.50. This figure was made up of the cost of the two meetings per year at the Union Jack Club which equated to £3.00 per member and the cost and distribution of the two UK Logs which equated to £4.50 per member. The present membership subscription was £7.00. Therefore the Group was losing 50p for every member. The cost per member had been maintained for the past two years but inevitably costs continue to rise, both at the Union Jack Club and the production and distribution of the Logs. The UK Log, under the capable editorship of David Ransom still provides very good value for money to members and the Union Jack Club continues to provide excellent facilities that fully meets the Group’s needs. Though the Group funds remain in a modest surplus this was mainly due to income from other sources such as David Ward’s auction and general auction proceeds. After a thorough debate it was unanimously agreed to reluctantly increase the UK subscription fee to £9.00 per member per annum for those members residing in the UK. For members residing in Europe the subscription fee would be £10.00 whilst the fees for other overseas members would be US$15.00, mainly to reflect higher postal charges which were anticipated to increase in the near future. These new subscription rates would ensure that Group funds would remain in a small surplus should income from other sources not be forthcoming. As agreed these new proposed increases would be put forward for approval by those members attending the Spring meeting.

Auction administration procedures were reviewed as a result of some comments received from a member but the Committee agreed that the present existing rules did not need any change and were adequate to meet the Group’s auction needs.

In November, at the Chester 2002 National Stamp exhibition our Log was entered in the literature class and was awarded the “Bronze – Silver” medal. It was the first time to my knowledge that the Log had been entered at any major stamp exhibition. Though this was briefly mentioned in the last Log I would like to personally thank David Ransom for all his hard work in producing what I think you will all agree, is a very fine Log. Well done David.

Whilst on the matter of the Log there had been received some requests to include more philatelic articles in future editions. Whilst this will be welcomed David can only include material with which he is supplied. So to all our philatelic specialists out there please put pen to paper and help David with suitable material. It is our stated aim to produce a well balanced Log that fully meets the needs of all our members.

Our Spring meeting was once again held at the Union Jack Club with another very good turn out. Up to sixty members took the time and trouble to attend and my sincere thanks to them all. It makes the meetings so worthwhile and gives members the opportunity to meet up with old friends once again.

The proposed increase in fees, as previously agreed at the Committee meeting, were unanimously approved by members attending the Spring meeting and will be implemented at the July renewal time. The revised procedure for this process seems to have worked well and will now become a permanent feature of the Group’s procedures. A small amendment will have to be made to the PISG UK Constitution Rules. This will be prepared by me in time for approval by members at the Autumn AGM meeting in September.

We were entertained to two very interesting presentations at the meeting. During the morning our member David Murray-Brown presented a selection of his very fine collection of Pitcairn philately, “The first 30 years”. This was a follow on from Austin Meares previous presentation on a similar theme. My sincere thanks to David for giving us the opportunity to see his fine collection which impressed many members who specialise in philately.

During the afternoon we were treated to an illustrated presentation by our member Rod Newman on “Exercise Bounty Bay”, a joint service diving expedition to the Pitcairn Island Group. Rod and his team were freshly back from the Islands. I had been following the expedition’s progress with extreme interest on their very fine web site and I only hope that other members did the same. It is not very often that we are treated to such detail of modern day life on Pitcairn and in particular the abundant marine life including a prolific shark population. I am very grateful to Rod and his team for taking the time to prepare the presentation during what must be a very busy time for our armed services at present. It is Rod’s intention to eventually produce a wide variety of articles and picture sets depicting the story of the expedition which will be available for purchase by members. Details will be forthcoming via our secretary in due course. Rod is also planning a second follow up expedition in 2005.

The meeting concluded with the ever popular auction. Over one hundred lots were offered for auction which always helps to augment our funds. My thanks to John Smith, Alan Game and David Sleep for administering the auction.

All in all a very enjoyable day amongst friends and fellow enthusiasts.

I need to mention the progress of the archive service which needs some explanation from me. I have completed the indexing of all the archive material in my possession and had hoped to bring the index along to the Spring meeting for fellow members to see. However, my own domestic changes has somewhat delayed this process. I am in the process of moving house and until my new permanent home is fully built I am having to temporarily rent accommodation which has limited storage space. This has resulted in all the archive material, along with my own Pitcairn related material, having to be placed in storage and thus will not be available until towards the years end when I take occupation of my new home. My apologies for this delay but I was somewhat overtaken by the speed of events.

David Ransom has started work on our very own Web site, as and when time permits him. I have seen very early drafts he has produced and as can be expected from David it looks very promising. You will be kept updated on developments.

Maurice Allward’s book would appear to continue to sell well as Maurice was able to donate another NZ$1000 as a gift to the Islanders from the royalties of the sale of his book. This brings the total to date of NZ$4000 which Maurice has donated to the Islanders which is very generous of him.

(The Committee agreed the Group’s participation at Swinpex 2003 at Swindon on the 14th.June and Midpex 2003 at Coventry on the 28th.June where our successful “Peep at Pitcairn” would be on display. As the two meetings were within two weeks of each other it was agreed that responsibilities for the two meetings would be split this year. Austin Meares would take responsibility for Swinpex and David Sleep would take responsibility for Midpex. Do come along to support the members who freely give up of their own time to attend these meetings in an endeavour to enhance the Group’s activities.)

I am pleased to announce that Roy Ellender is now on the mend after his operation. This has kept Roy away from our meetings where he was a regular attendee. I look forward to seeing Roy back amongst us in the near future and his invaluable help at the auctions is missed.

As mentioned earlier this will be my last message as Chairman, for under the rules of our constitution I am only able to serve for a period of three years and my time comes to an end at the Autumn AGM meeting. I just do not know where the past three years have gone. I ask you to consider a suitable replacement for me when the nomination forms are distributed to you with the meeting details.

David Sleep our Secretary has also expressed a wish to stand down having held this post for some six years. David feels he needs a change what with his busy work schedule and other outside interests. So in addition to a suitable replacement for me we are also seeking a suitable replacement for David and your consideration is once again requested when the nomination forms are distributed. We will need an able Secretary for our Group to continue to flourish so if anyone considers himself or herself capable of carrying out this important role then please step forward. Please do not leave it to the same people all the time to administer the Group whilst fresh blood with new ideas would be most welcome.

During my time as Chairman I am most grateful for the support I have received from members, and in particular the Officers and Committee members. David Sleep, David Ransom and Alan Game deserve special mention for their ongoing commitment to the Group and its success. We should all be grateful to them.

I look forward to seeing as many of you who are able to attend the Autumn AGM meeting at the Union Jack Club in September, which promises to be another interesting meeting.

Jeff Thomas

Number 26 • July 2003