As the year draws to a close, we look back on what we trust was an enjoyable year for
our members but also one that was touched with considerable sadness as it saw the
loss of our President, Norman Harlow. A long-standing and enthusiastic member of
the Association, Norman took on the role of Branch Secretary at the dawn of the
new millennium, moving on eight years later to become Chairman.
Health problems prompted him to stand down from this post in 2011 but he accepted
the position of Branch President, a post he fulfilled with his customary enthusiasm
and conscientiousness. Sadly his health deteriorated and he succumbed to the cancer in
July, but not before he had funded the planting of a holm oak tree in Mote Park to
mark the centenary of the Branch.
The plaque at the site recognises Norman’s generosity.
On a lighter note, Branch members enjoyed the usual coffee mornings at which we
were entertained by a wide range of speakers. We also had a most enjoyable trip to
the Banqueting House in Whitehall, coupled with a very entertaining visit to
Broadcasting House – both the old and the new parts (our guide informed us that a
high-level committee sat for three months to decide what names to use to
differentiate between the new extension and the original parts and came up with the
highly original(?) appellation of “Old Broadcasting House” and “New Broadcasting House”!). It seems the then-current satirical BBC TV programme “WC1A” was very close to real life!
A further trip to Frogmore House, scheduled for September, proved less popular and
was eventually cancelled through lack of support. Perhaps there are too many
other attractions and holidays in August and September.
Nevertheless, the annual Strawberry Tea in July proved popular, despite the very
inclement weather and we were pleased to welcome a contingent from Medway
Branch. Members from other branches are always welcome at our events.
This year is seeing a number of significant changes within the Branch. To begin with,
our AGM held on 1 April 2016 saw Roy Ingleton standing down from the post of
Chairman after five-years in the hot seat, only to be voted in as the new President
of the Branch, with Ray Pilbeam stepping up to take the chair.
Our long-suffering treasurer, Caroline Wright, was finally able to step down after ten
years hard labour, to be replaced by Laura Sessions.
The AGM was attended by the Mayor of Maidstone and, in the unavoidable absence
of the Chairman of Council, the indefatigable Gemma Godlington-Long joined us to talk
briefly on developments at county level, and to receive a modest cheque for the
We are also moving to a different venue for our regular coffee mornings, the new premises in the Maidstone Community Centre offering enhanced facilities at a considerably reduced
rate. And we all know how important the finances are!
All in all an interesting year ahead.