30 October 2010 First AGM

The first general meeting of the CCHT was held on 30th October 2010. Read the Annual Report here 



1. Formation of the Trust and interim management

1.1 The Trust came into existence on 21st January 2010 when the trustees nominated by the sponsoring organisations signed a Trust Deed. This Trust Deed, slightly amended, has now become the Constitution of the Trust, approved by the Charity Commission who have registered the Trust under no 1137379. The principal purpose of the Trust is to revive and complete the Victoria County History of Cumbria (VCHC), and the Trust has inherited a Draft Project Plan written in 2009.

1.2 Up to the date of the first AGM (30/10/2010) the Trust has been managed by the nominated trustees, who have met 7 times acting throughout with the advice of Dr Angus Winchester, Project Director designate.  Bryan Gray, who has agreed to allow his name to go forward to the AGM for election as chair, was invited to attend as an observer from 24thMay 2010. The nominated trustees are (with sponsoring body and previous trustees if replaced):

Richard Brockington (Cumbria Local History Federation), Dr Bill Shannon (Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society), Mary Wane (Friends of Cumbria Archives, previously Dr John Thorley), Councillor Kevin Lancaster (Cumbria County Council), Robinson Matthews (Diocese of Carlisle), Vivienne Rees (Lake District National Park Authority), Sarah Woodcock (National Trust), Professor Keith Stringer (Lancaster University), and David Galbraith (University of Cumbria, previously David Wilson).

1.3 The acting officers, appointed by the trustees in January 2010, are Richard Brockington (chair) and Rob Matthews (treasurer). Rob Matthews has also handled membership applications, and Bill Shannon publicity.

1.4 At the date of writing there are, including societies, X founder members and Y ordinary members. The total of promised subscriptions over 5 years is £Z,000, in addition to the £10,000 pa for 5 years generously offered by the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, subject to matching funding. The present bank balance, from early payment of subscriptions, gifts and fund-raising, is ... .

2. Activities to date

2.1 The trustees have designed and published an enrolment leaflet entitled "A Future for Our Past"; have arranged a public launch; have secured registration as a charity; have established a temporary website (www.cumbriacountyhistory.org.uk), have obtained grant aid from RDPE for the appointment of a Volunteer Coordinator; and have (with the help of Bryan Gray) opened discussions with the Heritage Lottery Fund.

2.2 The public launch was held at Rheged on 15th May 2010, by kind permission of John Dunning. The event was chaired by two of our patrons James Cropper, Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria, and Lord Inglewood. Some 60 people attended to hear keynote addresses by Professor John Beckett (National Director of the VCH), and Dr Angus Winchester. In the four weeks following the event,  the numbers of persons applying for membership of the Trust doubled.

2.3 In April 2010 the Trust applied to the Fells & Dales office of the Rural Development Programme for England for grant to support the temporary part-time appointment of a self-employed Volunteer Co-ordinator to conduct preliminary research into the availability of volunteers and their training needs. The cost of this project is £6,000 and RDPE have approved grant of 80% of this cost. The post was advertised; 6 applications were received; two candidates were interviewed on 19th August; and Dr Sarah Rose of Lancaster was appointed and has commenced work. Her report is expected in December 2010.

3. The Way Forward

3.1 Following exploratory discussions between Bryan Gray and the Manchester office of the Heritage Lottery Fund, a pre-application proposal was formally submitted on 6th September 2010. This is consistent with the VCHC Draft Project Plan but is tailored to meet the criteria of HLF in the following important respects - (a) it envisages a two stage application process inviting funding for a development phase in March-June 2011, and an operational phase from September 2011; (b) the operational phase is envisaged to last three years to 2014; (c) if approved, HLF will support a major project namely the development of the on-line research databank to be called the Cumbria Community History Resource Bank (CCHRB).

3.2 The development phase will include full design and implementation of the websites necessary both for the Trust and for the CCHRB; design of training and support networks for volunteers; and a few small-scale pilot studies to test the VCH methodology, the working of CCHRB, and to identify problems. The provisional budget for this work, which will allow for a second temporary appointment (project development adviser), and for payment of web-site designers, is £20,000. Because membership subscriptions are intended to support the subsequent employment of a County Editor we shall be applying for 100% grant for work during the development phase.

3.3 The trustees have created a web-site working group led by Sarah Woodcock and including Bill Shannon and Derek Denman. A number of web-site designers have been considered and discussions are proceeding with one of these - but it may yet be necessary to have a formal tendering process before the contract is let.

3.4  In the operational phase the Trust is looking for 75% grant - £60,000 per year for 3 years. All being well, the trust will be able to proceed as planned with the appointment of a full time project coordinator (whose working title will be County Editor) in the Autumn of 2011, to buy 10% of the working time of Dr Winchester as project director, and to put in place training and support networks for volunteers. In other words the research and writing of VCHC will, if the applications are approved, go ahead from September 2011 as previously planned: and the Trust will also be concerned with sustaining  the growth of interest in the project across the whole county, recognising that the wider public interest lies not only in the growth of knowledge and understanding of Cumbrian history and heritage, but also in community involvement and "ownership" of it.

3.5 On this basis, and having regard to the breadth and depth of support already received the trustees feel that the CCHT project can now proceed with the ultimate objective of creating a complete community history of Cumbria taking advantage of the technology we have which was not available to our predecessors. We cannot expect HLF to fund it indefinitely: even if our present proposals are approved, we must plan ahead for funding after 2014. It will be our intention to demonstrate the value of the project in our first three years of (HLF assisted) operation.

4. Trustee elections and payment of member subscriptions

4.1 At the AGM members will be voting on the election of not less than two, nor more than six, additional trustees. The expanded board of trustees will meet on Friday 12th November 2010 at the National Trust offices at Grasmere.

4.2 It is the view of the nominated trustees that the programme of activity outlined in this report justifies the commencement of membership subscriptions in January 2011, and - subject to any direction from the membership at the AGM - this proposal will be put to the meeting of trustees on 12th November.