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    17/07/2014 12:13

YHA AGM 2014

YHA AGM 2014

16th July 2014

By Chris Darmon, YHA Chairman

YHA’s 2014 AGM was held in glorious summer weather last weekend at YHA Castleton Losehill Hall.

This was an historic moment for us: for the first time we opened up attendance at the AGM to an extra 38 members of YHA and we also wanted to make it much more inclusive and family-friendly with social events around it.

Caroline White, our Chief Executive, gave a sparkling review of the 2013/14 year which highlighted the successes and challenges of turning the business around to position it better to meet our charitable objective, finishing with reading out an extract of an emotional letter from a teacher about what a stay at YHA Whitby had meant to her class of severely disadvantaged children. Alan Bourne, YHA Treasurer, followed this with a more in depth analysis of the finances.

There were five trustee vacancies this year and 10 candidates standing. Chris Roberts and Paula Yates were re-elected for a further three years, and we are delighted to welcome three new Trustees: Nelarine Cornelius, Ian Maginnis and Josie Murray. Another candidate, Margo Muris, was later co-opted to strengthen the financial focus of the Board.

There were three governance motions put to the AGM by the Board of Trustees: the first two related to the election of National Officers by the Board of Trustees rather than by AGM delegates, and the opening up of the AGM from 2016 to make it completely open to all members of YHA. Both these motions were passed but require changes to our Articles of Association, so they will be brought back to next year’s AGM as formal resolutions. The third motion related to the future of Regional/Wales Councils and the proposal for a new structure of Supporters’ Groups to replace them. This motion prompted a considered and reasoned debate, and it was generally supported although slightly amended to include a pilot period which will report back to the 2016 AGM.

The afternoon session was another first for YHA: The YHA Big Debate on the topic of “It is better to have a smaller network of financially sustainable hostels than a larger network of loss making hostels”. Chaired by YHA Vice President Lord Paul Tyler in true Dimble-esque style, and with opposing views put forward by former Trustees David Bostock and Robert Smith, this was well attended and lively with a variety of views expressed from the floor.

Awards of Honorary Life Memberships and Long Service Awards followed. The evening was given over to a hog roast and a riveting talk from Alan Hinkes OBE, the first British mountaineer to climb all peaks over 8,000m.

Tours of the YHA Castleton microbrewery were popular and a YHA memorabilia auction raised £500 for Breaks for Kids, interspersed with music from the Taylor Maid Blue Grass band. For early risers, Andy Eccleston led a 6am birdwatching walk and those who preferred a slightly more leisurely start joined me on a geology exploration of Castleton, rounding off a hugely successful weekend.

My thanks to everyone involved in making the AGM so brilliant.

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