Date Of Annual General Meeting 27/04/16


  1. Welcome, introductions and apologies.
  2. Agreement of minutes from previous AGM
  3. Accounts update from Treasurer (Helen), reporting on group’s income and spending throughout the last year.
  4. Update on activities and events of the past year from current Chair (Gabi).
  5. Update on plans for the future from Vice Chair (Charlotte).
  6. Appointing the committee
  7. Any other business.

2. Agreement of minutes from previous AGM

The minutes from the 2015 AGM were approved and then signed off by Gabi Styles.

3. Accounts update from Treasurer The speech was accompanied by slides illustrating the figures.

“The breakdown of costs from last year shows that events and speech therapy were again a focus for us. I’m pleased to say we’ve continued our partnership with Speech and Language Therapist Carol Rowe. Last year she saw 19 children through our Speech and Language initiative. It still makes me very proud to think SDCS is helping so many deaf youngsters progress. Please let me know if you are interested in Speech and Language for your child and Carol is here to chat to if you have any questions. A range of the grants were awarded last year – again BSL courses and private tutoring were most popular. If you want to find out more about applying for a grant, you’ll find a copy of our policy and application form on our website. Or catch me later for a chat. We remain free to join – all we ask is for event donations to secure bookings. We are very lucky to receive generous donations from members, local companies and individuals – these are vital to keeping us going. We are considering other ways to raise money such as a donation month similar to that of CICs. If you have any ideas please write them on the slips found in the jars on your table. So please add us to the ‘Give as you live’ website or nominate us at your local supermarket! I have submitted our accounts to the Charity Commission so they are available there. I also have hard copies of our accounts and financial investments should you wish to see them. I am happy to answer questions about those separately. Thank you for listening – one last thing – any questions? Questions: Q: Are we still at a stage where the income from the investments is higher than what we are paying for the investment management? A: Yes we are making significantly more and our money seems to have been invested very well. Q: In South Africa I had a card from my school and if you present the card when you go to shops and restaurants you can get points on the card which gives money to the charity. Do you have that here? A: No but the ‘give as you live’ for online shopping is similar. Q: The card would be better for people who don’t have the internet. A: We will look into it. Q: Are any events planned for deaf awareness week to raise awareness and money? A: No but that is a good idea. Gabi may do something in her work place. Q: Are we still paying for a Family Officer? A: No. Since the NDCS are no longer prepared to have a Family Officer working directly with Surrey we are no longer funding the role. Q: Could the SDCS take on a Family Officer part time directly? A: We recently discussed this in a meeting and Charlotte has been in touch with Dina Martin to ask what specific aspects of the role the NDCS are and are not currently providing. We are considering finding someone who could fill the gap but have not yet worked out the details. We want to ensure we do not cross roles with the NDCS”.

4. Update on activities and events

“As I am stepping down as chair this year I will be telling you about all the exciting things we have done in the last year and Charlotte will go on to talk about our plans for next year. There will be a selection of photographs from our events showing on the screen behind me as I walk you through the year in the life of the SDCS. Our AGM last year was on the 29th April and following shortly after that we had a trip to Port Lympne Animal Park on 16th May, this was a huge success and many families enjoyed looking round all the animals and the safari tour through the Kent savannah! On the 6th June Gabi held a pampered chef evening to raise money for SDCS, with one of our parents Vilma Espinosa hosting. We are always looking for new ways to raise money to fund everything we do so if you have any ideas please don’t hesitate to let us know. We are hoping to hold a quiz night in the autumn this year as a fundraiser. On the 14th June we visited the Watercress Line in Hampshire, this is always a popular event for families and we have a lovely picnic. It was a great opportunity for families to relax and chat as we were all in the small picturesque picnic area together. It is true that in our varied programme of events some are great for meeting other families and talking to them – like this one – and some, like Bocketts Farm at Christmas, may be harder for new families to get to know people, but we did put on 24 events in the last year and aim to have a very varied programme to interest as many families as possible. A smaller group of children went go karting in July and had fun racing around the track. Later that month some of our older children enjoyed learning circus skills at a workshop in London. A fantastic event for our younger children turned out to be a visit to Little Street, a role play centre in Frimley – the children had a great time pretending to be fire fighters, shop keepers and hairdressers in an environment geared up for language development! Perfect for our little ones and it was an added bonus that we had exclusive use. We are off to Little Street again soon at the end of May, please see the website for booking info. Little Street was a great venue for those who have no transport of their own as it is based at Frimley rail station. We are very aware that some families have no transport and Surrey is a big place, so we do try to move events around the county and we have funded taxis for people who want to come to events but can’t physically get there. The 13th August event didn’t quite go to plan, we had planned a summer holiday picnic at Tilgate park, one of Charlotte’s favourite places, but on that day the heavens opened and Charlotte and her son Ollie ended up on top of a hill, with an umbrella in hand, in a thunderstorm. We were very lucky in August to be given some free tickets by the Polka Theatre to a BSL interpreted performance of Gorilla – a charming play for younger children. Several families were able to enjoy this. The summer fun day is an annual event that we have held at the Hawthorns School in Bletchingley for the past four years. It is a lovely venue that has great facilities that we can use, including a swimming pool. We were very lucky with the weather last year, the sun came out just as everyone was arriving, and stayed the whole day. We have a winning formula with the venue and activity providers and have worked out a good balance of structured activity and free time for chatting with friends. We also had our first SDCS Bake off competition which was greatly enjoyed by all competitors and audience! Our September visit to Garsons farm threw up some logistical hurdles in our event planning, everyone wanted to pick different fruit and veg at different times and the circular one-way nature of the pick your own made it difficult to meet up. Those who attended had a great time but we are always keen to learn lessons from our events and we would approach planning an event of this nature in a different way in future. Last year saw our inaugural SDCS caravan holiday, to the Hoburne park at Bashley in the New Forest. This is something we are keen to repeat for many years to come, all families who came along had a wonderful weekend and a great chance for families to really get to know each other with many friendships made. As a mother of three I know that an average event of only a couple of hours with children hanging off your skirts makes for little opportunities to chat! So a whole weekend was a fabulous way for families to relax and share experiences. The facilities in the park are great with plenty to do on site as well as the lovely forest and great beaches close by. 26 families have already signed up for this year’s weekend away, with a waiting list for any vacancies already. The cost of the weekend is heavily subsidised by SDCS but we are aware that this is a very valuable trip and a much needed holiday for some families. In October Charlotte and I also attended the NDCS National Council meeting in London – a one day event for local deaf children’s societies to meet up and exchange ideas as well as learn what NDCS are planning for the future. In the cold of November we went to Beaverworld – a lovely little children’s farm on the Kent border and despite the bitter cold the children were more than happy to run around to keep warm while several of the adults ordered hot chocolates in the cafe! We did manage to see the resident beaver as well as many reptiles wrapped up with hot water bottles. Gravity Force is a hugely popular venue in Camberley and with trampolining and bouncing being the activity of the moment we decided to take the KS2 children along – they had a fantastic time and were well and truly worn out at the end of the session. Our annual trip to Bocketts farm just before Christmas saw 23 families come along for an afternoon at the farm, rounded off by seeing the real Father Christmas in his straw bale grotto, a real highlight of the season. This is a popular event and several new families attended this event. Our New Year Party is another popular annual event with 55 children coming this year to enjoy a tried and tested formula of entertainment, food and santa. Entertainment came once again from Charles’ Animal Encounters with a variety of unusual, sweet and slightly scary animals which the children all bravely handled! We always hold the party at the beginning of January once the festivities have finished and just before the children return to school – we have already booked the venue for next year’s party!

The Polka theatre put on a fantastic show for the festive season once again this year, we usually try to attend the BSL interpreted performance there – it’s great to support this fellow charity and it is always a popular trip. On the 9th Jan we saw Beauty and the Beast and The Paper Dolls for the little ones. This year we have chosen to visit in the summer as Christmas is an increasingly busy time of year. Also in January we enjoyed the PriceWaterhouseCoopers panto – Jack and the Beanstalk – put on in a West End theatre with all the glitz and glam but performed for free entirely by PWC staff. The professionalism and generosity of the event is amazing and 80 of us were entertained by a production the standard of which exceeds that of local productions I have seen. Charlotte held a coffee morning in February – one of three we had in the last year. We have had increasingly poor attendance at coffee mornings in recent years which has led to a lot of discussion in meetings. Coffee mornings used to be a fantastic first event for newly diagnosed parents who wanted to get advice and support – we are not sure why they are not working any more but are trying to investigate and think of other events for newly diagnosed families. We have been to events at Gatton Park near Reigate in the past and it is always a pleasure to be invited back, the staff of the education team arrange a variety of activities based around art and nature and are always accommodating as well as providing events free of charge for us. We went there in March for an afternoon themed around the book Freddie and the Fairy which was enjoyed by a group of our younger children. Our Easter egg hunt at Bushy park near Kingston is becoming a regular feature on our calendar and always results in great interaction between children. This year the weather was kind and 15 families – including several new ones – attended and hunted for pictures of spring animals to win their prizes of goody bags of Easter chocs. Our 24th event of the year was taking a group of 15 9-14 year olds to ride the ringos at Sandown Park dry sky slope. These are large rubber rings to slide down the slope on – and they did it again and again and again! This was another good event for parents to get together and chat – we huddled in the café as it was so cold! So another busy year, now Charlotte will talk to you about the next one!”

5. Update on plans for the future from Vice Chair

“With Gabi stepping down from her role as Chair I have decided to take on the role and am excited about the year ahead. I hope to carry on with many of the objectives set by Gabi last year, we have made progress with many of these areas and I hope we can continue to do so. Last year we aimed to become more involved with local authority initiatives – Kris and I have spent some time liaising with the local authority and NDCS regarding the speech therapy provision and we will continue to do so. We have also created links with Family Voice which we will continue to work on; we have arranged to have a stand at their upcoming open day. We’d also focus on the relationship with PSSS and further develop our relationship with our surrounding DCS’ Gabi has got strong links with the Chairs of other groups and Surrey are hoping to lead the way in arranging a networking day similar to the one that NDCS have run in the past but no longer organise. At the last AGM we talked about rebranding the KS3 group, we have already allocated specific members of the committee to this age group and have arranged some exciting events specifically aimed this group, we hope to continue to work on engaging this older age group. Gabi recently carried out a membership survey, thank you to those that responded, it will help us to shape the coming year and ensure we are a group led by our members. We have had a lot of positive feedback in relation to our events and access to services we provide such as speech therapy. It is clear there is an appetite for information and courses we have run in the past, we will add this to the agenda of the next committee meeting. Fundraising is an area that I would like to spend time working on and which was covered briefly in the membership survey, although we are a well-funded charity thanks to historical donations that are well invested we would like to secure this funding long term and this involves raising more money so as not to deplete our investment too much. We would welcome any ideas for fundraising and ultimately we would like to welcome someone on to the committee to focus on fundraising. One idea we have had is to follow the ideas of other charities that have a voluntary donation month. We have previously discussed the idea of an annual membership fee but we always conclude that we would never want to exclude those that may not have the funds for a fee. However as shown by the survey, some members wish to contribute more. We will discuss a voluntary donation month or similar and would welcome any feedback from you, our members. Our website is constantly evolving and I would like to expand the CHSWG area of the website to include a parent feedback facility to enable the committee members that sit on CHSWG’s to effectively represent parents. In terms of our events, many of these are a tried and tested formula and we will be running the usual successful mix of a summer fun day, theatre trips, farm visits and other popular events. We will also be throwing in some new venues and activities into the mix like the trip to Ringo’s which the kids enjoyed a couple of weeks ago, Brooklands motor museum and horse riding that are coming up soon”.

6. Appointing the committee

Chair: Charlotte Crutchington, nominated by Sharon seconded by Hans Stiles. Vice Chair: Kris Harvey, nominated by Jennifer Loten, seconded by Lobna Al-Kalamchi. Treasurer: Helen Le Page, nominated by Kris Harvey, seconded by Miranda Stocks. Vice Treasurer: Rebecca Tym, nominated by Rob Harvey, seconded by Sindy Midgley. Secretary: Xenia James, nominated by Rebecca Tym, seconded by Kris Harvey. Other members: Gabi Stiles and Sindy Midgley. Gabi addressed the room, “Miranda Stocks has worked on the committee for about five years and is standing down today. She has done some fantastic work especially with the younger members.” Charlotte presented Miranda with flowers and a gift. Hans Stiles suggested that it would be nice if the committee could have one or more deaf adult on board and suggested it would be good if any deaf adults in the room wanted to think about joining the committee. Gabi agreed with this and explained what would be involved in joining. Karen Bodamer-MacGregor explained that she and her husband are deaf and their children are deaf. He said that she agreed that it would be good for deaf adults to be more involved as they would also be positive role models for deaf children. Karen Bodamer-MacGregor said she would like to be involved but asked how communication would be organised as interpreters are expensive. Gabi, Helen, and Hans Stiles explained that there have been deaf adults on the committee in the past and it is no problem to book an interpreter. Karen Bodamer-MacGregor joined the committee, nominated by Rebecca Tym, seconded by Ray King. Gabi stepped down as Chair and was presented with flowers. Gabi presented the committee members with chocolates.

7. Any other business

* Gabi explained that the equipment from First Point is available for members to take if they wish. We would not be able to take on any maintenance or installation. * Ray King explained that the Fire Service offer free home assessments and installation of smoke alarms to families with deaf children in Surrey. Gabi suggested that the information would be displayed on our website.