A chilly day for hood-down driving did not deter Register members from attending the Annual General Meeting on Sunday 19 April. Some 14 Giuliettas and Giulias, five slightly newer Alfas, a Fiat Barchetta, a Ferrari, and a modern sofa (BMW) brought another good turnout. Some 35 members, spouses and friends formally reviewed the past year, kicked-off the Register programme for 2015, and lunched together.
Wroxall Abbey in Warwickshire proved an excellent venue with a delightful outside courtyard for the parking parade and an even more spacious ex school classroom which could have comfortably accommodated three times our number. Several members had enjoyed a delicious dinner and convivial imbibing the evening before in the Wroxall Abbey Hotel. This was the second AGM to be preceded by a dinner together and a sleepover the night before and judging from its popularity, it looks like the start of a tradition.
This was the first AGM under the chairmanship of Richard Wigley and it was quickly clear that administratively he is as well tuned and finely fettled as his gloriously prepared blue Spider. The formal business of the AGM was quickly despatched with apologies recorded, the financial accounts approved and all Committee members re-elected by acclaim and to the relief of the other members present.
Richard’s 2014 Chairman’s Report began with thanks to his predecessor, Paul Gregory whose seven years as chairman was reflected in the good health and success of the Club today.
“Our main measures of success are membership levels, financial security, reaching out to and sharing information with members worldwide, and organising enjoyable and interesting events for members to participate in.” he said. On all these measures 2014 proved to be a good year for the Register. The level of membership had held up well, numbering over 400, less than 10% down on the previous year. A small increase in the subscription had resulted in a modest increase in the Club’s revenue and reserves.
Reminding members that the Giuliettaletta continued to be the main point of contact with members worldwide, the Chairman reported that he and the Editor, Don MacLean, had agreed specific new objectives for the magazine. The number or articles from overseas members would be increased to better represent their interests. Following feedback from members, the ‘Letta would seek to provide a regular flow of high quality technical and historical articles as well as reporting on relevant events. The latest ‘Lettas were evidence of this change with articles contributed by members in the USA, New Zealand, South Africa, The Netherlands, France and Madeira, articles on restoration projects and a new series of Chairman’s interviews.
Richard briefly recapped on the Register events enjoyed by members in the 2014 Programme: the April AGM at Abingdon; the long-awaited and spectacular 60th anniversary trip to the Vernasca Silver Flag hill climb near Parma, Italy, in June; the summer picnic at the Shuttleworth Collection of vintage and veteran planes in a graceful flying display near Biggleswade in July; and the Autumn long weekend in splendid mid-Wales. He warmly thanked all Committee members, whose great organisation and voluntary hard work had made the Programme so enjoyable, the management robust, and the Club successful. His thanks were echoed in the loud applause from all members present.
In the informal part of the meeting, Peter Yaxley expanded on membership, reporting that numbers for 2015 were slightly down on this time last year but that his direct follow-ups with members who had not yet paid were eliciting renewals. Even so, a slight reduction in membership numbers was expected. It was suggested that this may be in part due to the rapid increase in the value of the cars perhaps leading to a change in the ownership profile with more cars going into collections rather than being driven regularly. Simple inertia may be a reason too and the possibility inviting UK members to pay their subscription by direct debit, together with a membership drive were mooted. Some fluctuation in membership from year to year is not unusual but the numbers would continue to be monitored closely.
Tony Ives (UK Events) outlined the UK programme with the summer event being held at the Tank Museum at Bovington in Dorset on Sunday 26 July. There are over 300 vehicles in the museum including the first-ever tank. The collection is regarded as the best in the world, and Register members will be taken behind the scenes to tour the workshop and areas not usually open to the public. Admission prices are £11 per person or £5 for OAPs and children. Those intending to join this event will be asked to pay in advance in order that numbers can be advised to the Museum well ahead of the visit. A notice will be put in the next ‘Letta and on the website giving details of how to register and pay.
The other UK event is the autumn tour of the North Yorkshire Moors on Friday 2 October to Sunday 4 October. It will start with lunch together and a scenic drive to the hotel on Friday, choice of driving or cultural options on Saturday. Sunday will include a visit to a Register member’s car collection near York followed by lunch and departure. Tony has reserved 15 rooms at the hotel which those intending to go on the trip will have to book before mid-August. Further details will be in the next ‘Letta and on the website.
Richard Hampton (European Tour) reported that interest had been expressed for 11 cars to join the trip to Germany taking in the Klassikwelt-Bodensee Show at Friedrichschafen commencing on 10 June and returning to UK on 17 June. Some others would be joining the tour just for the weekend of 13-14 June. Richard was concerned that the show organisers were not responding to his emails. Paul Morris volunteered to ask a friend in Germany to make contact in German in Richard’s behalf. The arrangements were perhaps less advanced that he had hoped by this stage but organisation was now in hand. The varied terrain on the route promised fantastic but less arduous driving than many experienced on last year’s trip to Vernasca.
Don MacLean, Giuliettaletta Editor, thanked all those members who had written articles and contributed photographs for the ‘Lettas and renewed his annual plea for existing authors and new writers to keep sending him such interesting material and great pictures. Don announced that the winner of the prestigious Elsie Smith Trophy for most significant contribution to the Giuliettaletta was Greig Smith (no relation) in South Africa whose encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Giulietta were legendary. Paul Gregory accepted the Trophy from Alan Smith on Greig’s behalf and read a message from Greig. As the Trophy was too large to send, instead a model of a blue Sprint with a small engraved plaque would be sent to Greig in South Africa.
Peter Bradnock, who has taken on responsibility for the website, reported that site visits averaged 1025 per month and page visits 3020 per month over the last 12 months with relatively little monthly variation. His aim was to make the website clearer to read with more timely and useful information, but he would still be relying on James Wiseman’s technical expertise for the tricky bits.
The advertisements pages were popular and more advertisements for cars and parts for sale or wanted would draw more visits. He encouraged members to dig out those old parts others may want to buy. Members were asked to look at the website and to let Peter have ideas about what kind of material they would find useful. He reminded the meeting that there is a password protected Members section which needs to be repopulated following the unfortunate hacking problem experienced early last year. Technical articles previously published in the ‘Letta could helpfully be placed in the Members as a reference repository for members. However, a way needed to be found to bring the website to members via social media such as Facebook. Perhaps a member could write a daily blog from the Germany trip for the website?
Before closing the meeting, Richard Wigley announced the winner of the Chairman’s Award in recognition of someone who has given exemplary service to the Giulietta Register and its members. This year he presented the Award to joint winners, Jane and Tony Ives who have worked tirelessly for the Club and contributed so much to the organisation and success of its activities. Their dedication to the aims of the Register, their perfectionist attention to detail, ready willingness to help others in the group, and their infectious enthusiasm for Giuliettas, made Jane and Tony popular and deserved recipients of this Award.