SHERINGHAM AND DISTRICT SOCIETY: REPORT OF THE TRUSTEES
The Trustees present their annual report of the Society for the year ended 31 December 2021.
The Sheringham and District Society is a registered charity (No. 280951) formed in August 1979. It is governed by a constitution revised in May 2011 to reflect the Society’s name change from the previous Sheringham and District Preservation Society. A further change in April 2017 fixed the quorum at an AGM.
The main objectives of the Society, as defined by the constitution, are to preserve and improve features of historic interest, to promote high standards of planning and architecture and to stimulate interest in the area of benefit, which is the town of Sheringham and the parishes of Upper Sheringham and Beeston Regis. These aims are promoted by the Executive Committee, which normally meets monthly. All planning applications in the area are reviewed and comments referred to the Town or District Council where necessary.
The Society is responsible for the upkeep and operation of the Fishermen’s Lifeboat Museum (home of the historic Henry Ramey Upcher Lifeboat and formerly known as the Fishermen’s Heritage Centre) and the Peter Coke Shell Gallery.
Social activities are normally held throughout the year: monthly coffee mornings with speakers on topics of local and area interest; an annual Art Exhibition; and other social events are organised for members.
A newsletter is distributed to members several times a year, and a website is maintained.
During the first half of the year all activities were cancelled, gradually resuming following the prevailing Covid-19 legislation and guidelines.
Review of developments, activities and achievements during 2021
As reported by the Treasurer, the Society has benefitted from several grants during 2021, principally those awarded to provide support to museums during lockdown.
Fishermen’s Lifeboat Museum and Peter Coke Shell Gallery
Following the lifting of restrictions and following the available guidance, activities were resumed in August with an open event for Members to show the results of the renovation work in the Shell Gallery and the Lifeboat Museum. Using this event as a test of our Covid-19 procedures, we were then able to gradually open the venues on weekends in August and September, resulting in nearly two thousand visitors in this limited period of time.
Continuous attention has been given during the year to the assets in the care of the Society: namely the nearly 200 items of shell art given to the Society by Peter Coke, and the Henry Ramey Upcher lifeboat.
The Society has renewed the lease for the Fishermen’s Lifeboat Museum (former Fishermen’s Heritage Centre) and the Peter Coke Shell Gallery with the Town Council, who own the buildings.
The Society continues to maintain the fabric of the lifeboat museum and the former fishing sheds, together with the West Cliff garden.
The Art Exhibition returned in August 2021 with a large number of works displayed. Unfortunately the stewarding of the exhibition rested on the shoulders of only a few and its future does not look certain..
The very popular monthly coffee mornings resumed in November with a talk from East Anglian Air Ambulance. The proceeds of the Art Exhibition were donated and a cheque for £600 handed over at the coffee morning.
Contacts with members have been maintained by increasing the number of issues of the Newsletter to keep members updated with the development work throughout the year.
For the first time the Society can report on the success of the use of Instagram as a way of promoting awareness of the Shell Gallery. Alex Snell and Sharon Hunt have jointly maintained the photos on the @petercokeshellgallery account.
Planning and Development
The Society continued to monitor all planning applications and is usually represented at Town Council planning meetings taking place by video-conference. We do make comments at meetings when we think it is necessary and write to the Town Council if required on specific applications. The Reef which is the replacement for the Splash is now up and running. Work continues on the Burlington Hotel conversion and the old Shannock Hotel has been demolished. The new build has not yet started.
Promotion & Publicity
Following the comments at the last AGM, the Executive Committee has undertaken several activities to promote the Society and its work. These have resulted in a video about the Shell Gallery which will become available in 2022.
The Society is a member of Maritime Heritage East (MHE) and supplies material for the MHE website which promotes visitor attractions along the East Anglian coast. The Society is also a member of Museums Norfolk, the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). The Society has taken part in several surveys promoting the resumption of tourism in the East of England.
The Executive Committee was saddened to hear of the news of the death of Geoff Dyson, our good friend and long- time supporter of the Society. He was the membership secretary for many years.
At the end of 2021 there were 7 life members (90 years and over in age) and about 130 ordinary members. The Executive Committee had decided that membership subscriptions would become payable for 2022 onwards.
A new membership category of “Volunteer Member” has been created for which no membership dues are payable. This category is used for people who volunteer their time to the benefit of the society.
At the time that this report was being prepared the restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic had mostly been lifted, though leaving many people with individual concerns. The Executive Committee is conscious of the concerns of several volunteers and continues to take a cautious approach to the opening of the venues.
The Trustees believe the Society is at a critical point in its history. Although it continues to make good progress and its affairs are satisfactory, the future of the Society requires more volunteers both for the Fishermen’s Lifeboat Museum and the Shell Gallery, as well as on the Executive Committee. The results of the next AGM will be critical in shaping the future direction.
Chairman, on behalf of the Trustees April 2022