Prepared by Peter Copsey - Secretary
1. This report covers the year from 1st March 2013 and is presented to the Annual General Meeting on 17th March 2014.
2. Membership. The Association has 41 members as at 1st March 2014, a decrease of four from last year. Poor health and moving away from the area are the main causes of the loss of membership but there have been new members recruited.
3. Management.The following people were elected to the ExecutiveCommittee at the 2013 AGM; Rod Rapley, Sue Rapley, Trevor Stansfield, Howard Watson (Treasurer), Marion Wilson (Chairman) and Peter Copsey (Secretary). The Executive met five times during the year, the first at Anisha Grange Care Home and subsequently at members’ homes. The change from Anisha Grange was brought about by their decision to charge for the room hire and by the fact that the numbers in the Committee were small.
The Chauvigny Sub-Committee (The Friends of Chauvigny) met regularly during the year under the chairmanship of Jeannine Watson. Similarly the Fishers committee met under the chairmanship of Marion Wilson.
4. Chauvigny Activities. Events arranged by the Chauvigny Group included a French evening at Canon Roche Halls on 25th April where members were entertained by French singer Olivier and a most pleasant tea party at Janet Cosgrove's home and garden in the afternoon of 21st July. Thanks go the Jeannine Watson for organising the French evening and to Janet for her hospitality.
Much of the activity of the Chauvigny group has been to make plans for the visit of our Chauvigny friends to Billericay in May 2014. This will be a 10th Anniversary event. At the time of this report, almost everything has been finalised and we look forward to their coming.
Jeannine Watson, Howard Watson and Janet Cosgrove represented the Association at a meeting of Twinning groups (Chauvigny, Geseinheim, Trino and Billericay) at Chauvigny on 13th July.
The Walk of Friendship was this year in Spiegelauin in the Bavaria Forest on the borders of Germany and the Czech Republic between 24th and 31st August. Our Association was represented once again by Mary Hawkins, Maggie Kingston and Martin Hart joined by Janet Cosgrove. There were four days of serious walking interspersed with visits to the World Heritage Site of Cesky Krumlov and to Haus zur Wildnis to learn about forest management.
This year also saw a special Walk of Friendship in UK. Between 12th to 16th May guests from Chauvigny and their twinned town of Geisenheim in Germany visited UK and joined us in our own Marche De L’Amitie. In all there were 23 walkers. From Ilkley the walkers were taken over the delightful Yorkshire Dales, although regretfully the weather was not so accommodating. One day was spent in York looking at the history of the city. Thanks go to Margaret Trasler, Maggie Kingston, Mary Hawkins and all others involved with the organisation of this event.
5. Fishers Activities. The student exchange with Fishers continues to be a regular event thanks to the sponsorship of the Sisters Cities Organisation in Fishers and the help and support of the Billericay Schools.
Two teachers and four girl students from Fishers visited Billericay from 9th to 16th July. The itinerary was similar to previous visits. Time was spent at the two Billericay Schools. On Wednesday 10th a river trip from Paper Mill Lock was followed by an English afternoon tea at St Mary Magdalene Church where they were joined by our President John Buchanan and Rev. Tom Loh. Friday was spent in London travelling there and back by train. The party took in the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Supreme Courts, Whitehall, Downing Street, Horse Guards Parade and the Millennium Eye. A river bus took the party to the O2 arena at Greenwich where they visited the Sky studios before crossing the River by cable-car. The hosts entertained our visitors with various excursions at the weekend and the visit ended with an enjoyable evening at The Hoop in Stock before our visitors left for home the next day.
The return visit took place between 1st October and 8th October. Two teachers, four students and Marion Wilson visited Fishers. The first full day included the usual tour of the town taking in the police station, the fire station and the Town Hall followed by a visit to Conner Prairie with its historical museum. Days were spent at the two High Schools in Fishers where the visitors experienced the teaching methods and magnificent well-kept facilities. On Friday 4th October the party visited Indianapolis taking in the Colts Football Stadium and the International Racetrack, home of the Indy 500 and motor museum. The weekend was spent with the host families and many were taken to the Renaissance Fayre where they helped out on the stalls telling visitors about England and Billericay.
Our Chairman gave a speech at a meeting of Fishers Town Council, giving greetings from Billericay and making a presentation to the Mayor. The farewell meal was held the next day at Billericay Park where the Association presented Fishers with a Billericay Town Flag. Pride of place at the farewell dinner was a cake with the flags of both countries skilfully depicted.
Upon the initiative of one of the visiting American students, a link has been set up between Buttsbury Junior school and Hoosier Road Elementary school in Fishers in order to exchange art between the two schools. Marion Wilson was invited to visit the class involved and saw the work from both schools. She took photos and it is hoped to include this in the forthcoming Art Trail and Festival this July together with the work of a photographer who lives in Fishers.
6. Fund-raising. Considerable effort has been put in by various members in fund-raising for the Association; their contributions are gratefully acknowledged.
The Chauvigny Quiz Night which had been postponed from earlier was re-scheduled for 18th January, but due to lack of support it was nearly cancelled. However last minute efforts by Maggie Kingston and Martin Hart ensured the event took place and was a success.
The Fishers section held a number of table sales throughout the year.
John Baron's Fun Walk took place on 19th May in which both sections of the Association took part. Thanks go to the marshals, all of our walkers and their sponsors.
7. Publicity. The Association has been mentioned in the Gazette as a result of our activities.
The Association Newsletter Issues 20 & 21 were sent to all members on 30th August and 3rd January respectively.
The Association's brochure (including application form) is available to the public from time to time in the Library.
The web-site is regularly updated with thanks to Rod Rapley.
The Association supported the Mayflower High School by sponsoring prizes for the annual Prize Giving Evenings. Marion Wilson and Trevor Stansfield represented the Association on the two evenings of prize-giving and handed out the sponsored prizes for French.
Marion Wilson also represented the Association at the leavers’ evening at the Mayflower High School on 5th September.
7.Other Matters. Relationships with Billericay Mayflower Twinning Association (BMTA) remain satisfactory with exchanges in information taking place regularly.
Peter Copsey 17th March 2014.