This month we report on our highly successful and enjoyable Annual General Meeting, held on Wednesday 10 April at Southwold Arts Centre. The meeting was in three parts.

Lin Le Versha, Chair of Southwold Arts Festival was our guest speaker. She argued passionately for the importance of the arts as essential to our well-being as humans. They contribute importantly to our sense of self-esteem and our place in the world. She explained the history of the festival and how it has developed since 2014 and gave us insights into the pitfalls of working with demanding artists and performers and the problems of those who find something better to do at the last minute! She explained how dependent the festival is on sponsorship, on the support of its Friends and on the teams of volunteers who make the events themselves possible. Finally, she stressed that we can all help the Festival by buying tickets and she showed us a teasing trailer of the 2019 highlights – all to come this June.

As always, another highlight was the presentation of our annual Excellence Awards.

Southwold and Reydon Society 2019 Excellence Award winners with Southwold Town Mayor, Michael Rowan-Robinson

Left to Right: John Huggins, Maggie Everson, Doreen Hammett, Tony Smith, the Mayor, Christine Obern, Graham and Judy Hay-Davison, Jim Elmes, Simon Pitcher, Laurence Vulliamy

2019 broke all records by the presentation of nine awards to people who have made an outstanding contribution to our community. Brian Harrild, Chair of our Awards Committee, introduced the awards by reminding us that it is the wonderful people in our community who make Southwold and Reydon such a special place. The awards, presented by Southwold Mayor, Michael Rowan-Robinson, went to:

Jim Elmes for his tireless work for the Reydon Village Plan, the Reydon Housing Needs Survey and, currently, the Reydon Neighbourhood Plan.

Maggie Everson for enhancing the quality of life for the residents of Pitches View and for her work also at the Voluntary Help Centre.

Doreen Hammett for a great many years of devoted service and practical help on the Scout Group committee.

Judy and Graham Hay-Davison for the great achievements at the Harbour under their stewardship as Secretary and Chair of the Harbour Users’ Association.

John Huggins as a community man par excellence in respect of the RNLI and charity fundraising and also a driving force behind flood defences and litter picking.

Christine Obern who has been solely responsible for twelve years for the popular Southwold Theatre and Music Group – a very welcome community asset.

Simon Pitcher for, in addition to his parish work, steering through the re-ordering of St Edmund’s Church for the benefit of the whole community and visitors.

Tony Smith for tremendous dedication to two causes: Save Our Southwold and facilities for mobility and hearing loss.

Laurence Vulliamy for his substantial contribution to the initiation of the Save our Southwold hospital campaign and his enthusiasm for the Sailors’ Reading Room.

Finally, we conducted the formal business of the Society’s Annual General Meeting. For 2019/20, we elected as Officers and Committee members:

President: Dexter Kirk

Chairman: Ridley Burnett

Vice-Chairman: Pam Cyprien

Treasurer and Membership Secretary: Andrew Wallington-Smith

Secretary: Philip O’Hear

Committee Members: Di Brown, Stephen Chessher, Simon Flunder, Jon Hadgraft, Brian Harrild, Nigel Hemming and Fiona Taylor.