EDITORIAL It’s good to be back preparing an Avonway News Bulletin and planning for the future. However, while home life has been rather boring for most of us during this last Lockdown, it’s been all change at Avonway. We reported in the last issue that Chairman Chris Calder, Treasurer Richard Kelly and long term Trustee Lorraine Thompson were planning to retire at the May AGM, but all three have since decided to retire at the end of April. This will enable the remaining Trustees, and in particular Janet Brown, who will be acting Chairman and Iain Kidson, who will be acting Treasurer, to get to grips with the roles before standing for election at the AGM. Janet and Iain have more than 30 years of experience as Avonway Trustees so are well placed to get us up and running post-pandemic. But Avonway needs to grow and change to meet the needs of the new normal, so remaining Trustees, Emma Blake and Nicky Rudd will be working to develop Avonway in new directions, while Adrian Ings will be opening up our bar when legal and preparing for the autumn skittles season and we shall all benefit from the input of our Manager, Sara Winteridge.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, Avonway is not run by the Town or District Council, although we do seek grants from them, amongst others, to support major initiatives such as the roof replacement. Apart from limited hours by paid staff, Avonway is run by volunteers, and whether they be Trustees or helpers for one of our activities such as Luncheon Clubs or the Carers Hub, they give of their time freely because they believe that Avonway offers an irreplaceable service to our community.
ONLINE BOOKING COMES TO AVONWAY In 2021 Avonway is moving into the 21st -century with online booking. We’re trying the software out ourselves at the moment but plan to go live to our users in September and then you will be able to see what space is available, find details of charges and conditions of hire, make a provisional booking and have it confirmed – all online. Of course, if you prefer, you’ll still be able to discuss your requirements in person by ringing the office between 9 am and 12 noon on weekdays and having a chat with Sara.
FAREWELL AND THANK YOU Chris Calder has given up the Chair of Avonway after nine years. Chris asked for “no fuss” about her departure but we most certainly want to thank her and record our appreciation of her service. When Chris was elected Chairman one of the first things she did was to reorganise the office. Previously, visitors arriving at the internal office window were treated to a view of the photocopier, while the Manager was tucked away in a corner with her back to the world. Chris moved the photocopier into the corner and the desk in front of the window, so new arrivals were greeted with a friendly smile. Chris did much to raise the profile of Avonway; she expanded the offerings at Avonway on the “Christmas in Fordingbridge” night. She led a fundraising committee which ran events such as the very popular Musical Afternoons, a Port Tasting, Race Nights, and other events which not only raised money for Avonway but gave participants an enjoyable experience. She also organised the democratic selection of a new logo; She held the administrative fort at Avonway freeing other Trustees to seek grants and organise the refurbishment of the building. Chris spearheaded the revival of The Gate magazine at the beginning of 2015 and it was not for lack of effort on her part that it gradually became the victim of new methods of communication and was finally given the coup de grace by the pandemic in 2020. She obtained funding to install our new automatic doors and managed their installation. It is typical of Chris that during the periods of lockdown she didn’t sit around at home but went into Avonway most weekdays, did a deep clean, high and low, including scrubbing the toilet floors on her hands and knees, redecorated the office, the cleaners’ cupboard and the cupboard doors in the ladies’ toilet and touched up the paint elsewhere as necessary. I am sure that staff and users will appreciate the brighter, fresher premises when they are able to return. A user writes, “I want to give personal thanks to Chris for her amazing commitment and hard work and all the many hours she’s spent working for the good of Avonway and the local community. She will be sorely missed but is greatly thanked and much appreciated.” So say we all.
FURTHER FAREWELLS Over the last year we had to say goodbye to a number of people who made an important contribution to Avonway. We wish them all well in their new ventures and hope they come back and see us some time Roz Bradbury, has moved away from the area. Roz writes, “I have, of course, used Avonway myself as both a member and facilitator of organisations over many years – so many happy memories. Toddler events, setting up the Toy Library, Preschool Learning Alliance, Craft Sessions, teaching sessions, and more recently Game on and Singing Time to name but a few. My life is richer for having made friends there, and seen the changes, and being a part of the local community and all it encompasses.” We regret that nobody as yet has come forward to continue these groups, so if you were involved in either and would like them to be reestablished please contact Sara Winteridge in the office. Christina Folliard says her life has changed during lockdown and she has taken the opportunity to cut down on some of her classes. Although it was a hard decision it is very unlikely that she will return to teaching Yoga and Gentle Exercise at Avonway. She will be missed by her loyal students, but Vicki Clarke teaches a similar programme and may have spaces. Theresa Hunt, who organised a number of Stott Pilates classes each week, has gone abroad. We wish her well in sunny Italy. Ely Morgan, of whom more in our next Bulletin, will be starting Pilates classes when Avonway re-opens. Richard Kelly was elected Treasurer at the May 2019 AGM but unfortunately recently pressures of “the day job” have forced him to retire. We are grateful to Richard for his time in office and particularly for his work in ensuring that Avonway received government assistance to help it survive Covid 19. Eileen Norton came to us first as a freelance bookkeeper and then stepped into the vacancy for Assistant Manager. Eileen’s enthusiasm and bubbly personality made her a valued part of the team. We were sorry to lose her and she felt bad about leaving us, but a new job at almost double the salary made it a no-brainer. Our loss is her new employer’s gain. Lorraine Thompson has been a Trustee for many years, first as a representative of the Stepping Stones preschool and latterly in her own right. She has also given advice and assistance with dealing with personnel matters for our staff. When Avonway took over The Gate in 2015 Lorraine was a member of the Editorial Board and helped to steer the magazine in a new direction. Luana Veo has moved away from Fordingbridge to be closer to family, much to the dismay of her many Steady and Strong aficionados. However, all is not lost for those who want to maintain or regain their balance, as Annie Mitchell, whom many may remember was our Assistant Manager for a while, is increasing the number of her classes which use the same syllabus
WORK IS STARTING ON THE ROOF! Thanks to grants from Fordingbridge Town Council, New Forest District Council, Councillors Edward Heron, Anne Sevier and Ann Bellows and the generosity of you, the residents of Fordingbridge and District, we have just enough money to replace the roof. While the contractor is up there we‘d like him to do a bit of additional work, so if there’s anyone who values Avonway and hasn’t yet contributed we’d be very happy to receive further donations. The planning hurdles have now been jumped. We are grateful to Ann Sevier for oiling the wheels when bureaucracy ground to a halt. Our project manager, Iain Kidson, is confident there will be no more planning delays but we now need to await the availability of our roofer for the main work Meanwhile we are moving on to the next stage which is to take down the chimneys. Plug Scaffolding will erect the scaffolding on Friday 8 May. Then our wonderful friends the Fordingbridge Wrotary Wreckers will be living up to their name, because, as soon after that as the weather lets them, they will be going into action. They will be working carefully to preserve the imperial size Georgian bricks which have a monetary value. The building is contemporaneous with the opening of the Alderholt brickworks and it is just possible that the bricks were made there. Some of the non-standard sized roof slates are also saleable, so we will retrieve as many as possible intact. We hope that work on the reroofing will begin in July – Covid, the weather and the contractor’s schedule permitting.
POSTPONEMENT OF AGM Last year we ended up having AGM in September instead of May, and even then we had to have Zoom meeting. This year, we are more hopeful that if we postpone the AGM until September and don’t get fourth upsurge of Covid, then: We should be able to have a face-to-face AGM at Avonway which would be more satisfactory than having a further Zoom meeting. If things go well, we should have a new roof by then. We should have a lot more activities happening at Avonway by then and be clear about those which have yet to start. We should have detailed information about new activities at Avonway. We will have time to plan a more elaborate AGM and publicise it with the intention of getting new people interested in attending. We will return to a May AGM in 2022.
ZOOM EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE – 22 MARCH 2021 – Key Points Trustees agreed to top up the salaries of furloughed staff so that they would receive 100% of normal salary for the first three months of 2021. The Treasurer reported that thanks to government funding designed to support community organisations in the time of Covid 19, our financial position was better than it might have been. It was noted that Janet Brown, Emma Blake, Nicky Jenkins and Iain Kidson had been added to the Avonway Bank Mandate. The draft End of Year Accounts for 2020 were considered and some issues raised for further investigation. Janet Brown agreed to draft the Trustees Report. Project Manager Iain Kidson reported that progress was being made with the roof and it was proposed to demolish the chimneys at the end of April or beginning of May. A Handover Timeline was noted giving details of the timing of the transfer of functions from the resigning Chairman and Treasurer to the soon to be acting Chairman and Treasurer. Details of users who had advised that they would not to be returning to Avonway after the pandemic ends were noted.
WATCH THIS SPACE We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of enquiries we’ve had for new activities at Avonway. Nothing can be settled at the moment – we are all waiting to see what happens with the Covid situation, but we’re hoping to give you further information in our next Bulletin. Meanwhile we are working with both returning and new users to ensure that their return can be managed “Covid safely” as soon as the rules allow.
RED CROSS MOBILITY AIDS CENTRE Julie Whiteing writes: I volunteer for Fordingbridge Red Cross once a week. We are here to help with aids for daily living & increased independence. We supply equipment from walking aids to wheelchairs, toilet aids & shower stools & a variety of other items to make life easier. Equipment can be loaned for a few days or longer periods, depending on need, but, donations are welcome. If there is a long term requirement the Red Cross offers its equipment for sale at a reasonable price. We also welcome donations of personal equipment that is in reasonable condition & no longer needed. These are all reconditioned & offered for sale. Walking aids with three or four wheels are always in demand! Come & visit us at: The Drill Hall, Bartons Road, Fordingbridge.SP6 1JD. We are open weekdays 10am-1pm. Phone number: 01425 653273. If you have three hours to spare on a regular basis, our clients would like us open each afternoon. We would be delighted to have more volunteers. Many people are unaware that the Mobility Aids Centre building is actually part of Avonway. The portacabin was bought two decades ago and the space it occupies was leased from the MoD with help from Mike Shand. Avonway maintains and insures the building and leases it to the Red Cross.