Presented to the Annual General Meeting on 30th January 2021

Never in the Society’s 31 year history have we faced such extraordinary times. With only two organised events (at Rib Valley and the first part of the Chalybeate Pairs in March) and in the face of our first Covid 19 lockdown shortly thereafter, your Committee felt obliged to suspend all Society events in the hope that we could resume our season once circumstances improved

Regrettably that hasn’t happened and in spite of some relaxation of the rules covering outdoor sporting activities during the season, we felt that bearing in mind the average ages and vulnerability of our members we should not be putting them or the Society at risk by continuing with our events during this season

That decision has been followed by the AMFC, Snowbee and other national and international event organisers with only the annual Grand Max competition at Bewl taking place during a short period of relief in October

Throughout the year however, your Committee has done its best to keep our members informed of key issues as they arose via the regular distribution of Newsletters and while we have tried to arrange some meetings during the latter end of the season including the Fur & Feather in December, we have found ourselves continually thwarted by the development of the pandemic. At all times however we have done our best to give our members and our venue hosts as much notice as possible of the necessary changes

Your Committee is now beginning its preparations for the 2021 season, and as always we will be doing so with particular focus on the key objectives of our Society which are to:

  • promote the sport of fly fishing
  • encourage sound fly fishing practice
  • promote friendship and camaraderie among members and
  • develop and improve members skills in the art of fly fishing and fly dressing

As usual we will be hoping to offer a busy and diverse programme of bank, lough, reservoir and river fishing to provide members with the opportunity to acquire and ultimately display and pass on a wide range of angling skills. It will be particularly rewarding to see these skills being shared with new and younger members, with a high level of camaraderie and banter combined with a competitive edge, all of which ensures that we enjoy our sport with a strong dose of fun, which is the point after all!

 

Membership and Finance

Micky Heasman has continued in his dual roles as Treasurer and Membership Secretary which provides a full overview of membership data and subscriptions

Membership numbers continued at a very healthy level during 2020 with 66 full members at the end of the year,11 junior members, 2 honorary members and 1 complementary member

Your Committee is pleased to confirm that Annual Subscriptions will remain at £25 for the coming season. In reaching this decision, we considered very carefully how we should deal with members’ subscriptions for 2020. While we did consider offering refunds, this would be administratively difficult and might put the Society’s finances at risk. Instead we proposed that a number of free or subsidised events should be organised for members during the year (such as the free Fur & Feather day in December) but unfortunately none of these have come to fruition. It is however the intention of your Committee to resume these plans in 2021 with summer social and sporting gatherings, Covid willing of course

In the meantime members are reminded that 2021 subscriptions fell due on 1st January, and membership will lapse under the terms of our Constitution if payment is not made by 14th February

While Micky will be providing his own financial report and accounts to the AGM, I’m delighted to say that thanks to his sound management, the Society is in very good financial health with a strong membership and regular input from new members this year

 

Support for Charities

The Society’s continued support for our chosen charities is in my view an important part of our activities. It enhances our reputation considerably and displays our commitment to giving something back to others who might be less fortunate than ourselves

Unfortunately our usual fund raising activities including Fishing for Forces days, our Annual Dinner Dance, Reg Littlechild Day and the Fur & Feather have been seriously curtailed this year. During the year Fidelity International informed us of a review of their “Just Giving” scheme as a result of which their support for our activities has come to an end. We remain extremely grateful to Fidelty for the very generous support we have enjoyed in recent years

We are very pleased however to have been able to continue our support for the Hospice in the Weald as a result of funds previously raised and Peter Thomason’s very efficient sale of the late Mick Dwyer’s fishing tackle

It is your Committee’s intention to review our charitable activities in the coming weeks so that our plans for the 2021 season can form part of our fixture list for the new season

 

Team Competitions

With the cancellation of the AMFC and all other national and international competitions, our only competitive outing during the season was to the Grand Max Invitation Competition at Bewl in October. Unfortunately our lack of match practice was exposed somewhat and we did well in the end to avoid the wooden spoon

As a result we can only look forward with increased anticipation to the 2021 season when we’ll be asking Richard Denney again to pit the skills of our small membership against much larger clubs in the AMFC First Division, some of whom are supported by organisations such the RAF, Army and Police while others represent major reservoirs such as Rutland, Chew and Grafham

Our thanks go to Harry Collins for his continued support for our competition teams. His sponsorship has helped over the years to defray some of the individual expense involved in entering these national events and so ensure that we can field our strongest teams when needed. While Harry very generously agreed to continue his support for the 2020 season he has indicated that having reviewed his firm’s charitable policies, that support will not continue in 2021, but he has kindly confirmed that the unused funds we currently hold can be used in the coming season

 

Ireland

It was a huge disappointment to have to cancel our annual trip to Lough Corrib in May. 2020 would have been the 30th consecutive trip that members of the Society had visited that beautiful part of the world, with Keith Nicholson and Mick Priest having attended every one! We have kept in close touch with our friends in Cornamona who are keeping safe and well but with fewer outings to O’Malley’s (!) and we very much hope to renew this highly valued part of the TWFFS year in 2021

 

Website and Newsletters

Our continued thanks go to Marc George for keeping the Society's website up to date and for making the adjustments needed as time goes by. The site will continue to be a very efficient source of information about our activities and a successful way for us to book into and therefore organise our numerous events

Our Facebook page now provides a useful supplement and our regular Newsletter, expertly produced by Peter Thomason, is an excellent way of keeping members up to date on specific issues as the season goes by as has been proved during this very difficult year

 

Your Committee

I’m pleased to report that your Committee has continued to work together extremely well in difficult circumstances to ensure that sometimes difficult decisions have been taken promptly in the course of the year and the high standards of organisation and commitment we’ve seen in past years have continued

As mentioned above, Micky Heasman has successfully combined his roles as Treasurer and Membership Secretary, Graham Morgan-Plumb has taken over the position of Fixture Secretary and had organised an excellent programme for 2020 (and will do for 2021). Richard Denney will continue to organise our AMFC teams, Scott Benton will continue to build a successful Junior Section with Keith Lawrence’s help, Andy Stoner will help us organise our social and charitable events this year and Peter Thomason as Secretary will include in his duties the monitoring of our website presence and the circulation of his excellent Newsletters

 

In conclusion

So an extraordinary season for your Society and all its members. Perhaps the loss of opportunities to meet and compete during 2020 will ensure that we place greater value than ever to the significant benefits of our sport and the camaraderie we all enjoy so much

Inevitably there will be even greater anticipation for the 2021 season and we look forward to your continued support while we make preparations for what we hope will be an early resumption of our activities. We feel your Society is in very good hands to do so and to continue in the future

With apologies to those who I haven’t been able to mention individually, can I extend my personal thanks to all those who have made a challenging fifth year as Chairman of your Society a different but continuing pleasure. I'm pleased to say that thanks to the excellent work done by your Committee, not only has my role been made very much easier, but the Society is in excellent health, not just financially, but in terms of membership, camaraderie and reputation. We will be working hard in 2021 to make sure that this position continues

Russell Bell, Chairman · January 2021