This is the third and final report I present to the Friends’ annual general meeting, as under our constitution I stand down tonight as your chairman. As you can imagine I present this report with mixed emotions – delight at the success we have enjoyed over the past year, confident in the future of the Friends and our continuing endeavours, positive as to the next stages of restoration of the house and the grounds, and naturally disappointed that I can no longer serve you in office. As I mentioned, the Friends have again enjoyed a highly successful year.
Our 2001 annual general meeting was held in the lecture theatre of the Essex Records Office on 4th April. A full complement of officers and committee members was elected with Vicky Parr replacing Bob Hudson as Vice-chairman and Catherine Reeves replacing Vicky as Hon. Secretary. At the conclusion of the formal business, Friends received a presentation on the restoration of Somerset House by Duncan Wilson, the Director of the Somerset House Trust.
Our social, fundraising and other events were again well supported by Friends, although we were disappointed at having to cancel our planned “Jazz by Request” evening on 29th April.
Nevertheless, we enjoyed
A detailed report and review on each of these events has been provided in our regular newsletters.
During 2001 our social and fundraising events contributed over £1,600 to Friends’ funds and I am immensely grateful to all those who have organised, run and supported these endeavours and in particular those who have performed for us, often at little or no charge.
Throughout the year Betty Woods and her team of excellent and hardworking ladies and gentlemen have provided refreshments at the house on the first Sunday of each month. Their contribution to Friends’ funds in 2001 exceeded £3,400, which is an outstanding achievement, and I know we are all extremely grateful to Betty and her team for this excellent result. Just in case any Friend has not yet enjoyed one of our Hylands Cream Teas, I can only say go to the house on 5th May and enjoy!
Stan Kaluza continued his searches for antique pieces for the restored rooms in the house. Due to his efforts during 2001 we purchased a very large Victorian mahogany table, which was duly restored. We also commissioned twenty-four chairs, which were stained to match the colour of the table. On 4th November, on behalf of the Friends, I presented the table and chairs to the borough council’s Executive Member for Leisure, Cllr. Ian Roberts. Following which we retired for tea. All Friends were invited to the hand-over and it was delightful to see so many Friends join the officers and committee that afternoon.
I reported last year on the disappointment we had experienced with regard to the purchase of a replica of 'Venus with the Apple'. Following considerable effort and negotiation, the damaged Venus was shipped back to Denmark in August and we received due compensation from the Thorvaldsens Museum. Again as I reported last year, we will have a replica 'Venus with the Apple' in the house after the next stage of restoration has been completed, hopefully at Easter next year.
Stan puts considerable time and effort into the hunt for suitable pieces for the house and our continued success in this respect would not have been possible without his enthusiastic and dedicated work and we are all truly grateful to him.
The Friends supported Chelmsford’s bid for City status and I formally wrote in support of that bid, like many others throughout the Borough of Chelmsford we were disappointed that Chelmsford was not granted City status on this occasion.
The Friends were delighted in May when one of our members, Kathleen Foreman, became Deputy Mayor of Chelmsford.
At the end of 2000 our membership stood at 413 members (but with the inclusion of an additional adult family member, the actual total was 466), this compares with 398 (or 447 with the inclusion of an additional adult family member) at the end of 2000. Again we find a steady and satisfactory increase in our membership year-on-year.
Brian Hinds has looked after our membership for the past two years and I am most grateful to him for all the work he has undertaken.
As I previously reported, last year the Friends presented a cheque for £10,000 to the council’s Hylands House Restoration Fund
We issued three copies of our Newsletter to Friends during the year; a valued source of information for many of our members. Our editor, Patrick Bermingham, continues to do an excellent job and we are all indebted to him for putting together such an enjoyable read, and are grateful for the many Friends who contribute articles.
As in past years, the success we enjoyed in 2001 has been down to teamwork and the support we have received from many Friends. So far as the team is concerned, I would pay tribute to the sterling work undertaken by Vicky Parr, our vice-chairman; Catherine Reeves our secretary; Richard Oscroft, our Treasurer; Brian Hinds, our membership secretary; Patrick Bermingham, our press & publicity officer and newsletter editor; Betty Woods, our teas leader; and committee members Hazel Bermingham, Carol Bourne, Joan Collins, Glenda Hicks, Con Johnson, Stan Kaluza, David Pyman, and Ron Woods. Each one has played a major part in our endeavours and I count myself honoured and privileged to have worked with them these past six years as Treasurer and Chairman.
I would also on behalf of all Friends say a special 'Thank You' to our president, Lady Platt, and our vice-president, Stuart Mole, who are always supportive of all we undertake and are both a ready source of wisdom and advice whenever it is needed.
On behalf of all Friends, I would also wish to thank the officers of the council and the staff at Hylands House with whom we have worked so well during the year.
Finally, a personal note of thanks to all the Friends of Hylands House. Your continued commitment to the house has been inspirational. It is your support that contributes so much to the success of the Friends and the future of the house.
I now 'bow-out' but with one final wish and that is for the Friends’ continued success.
Paul Hutchinson, 10th April 2002