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Forty-nine members attended the thirteenth Annual General Meeting of The Wainwright Society on Saturday 19 March 2016.

Prior to the AGM, John Bewick introduced representatives from the Society’s two beneficiaries for 2015. The first to speak was John Leadbetter and Roger Pickup from Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs. John explained how the Search Dogs were trained to find casualties using a human air scent. He said that it took up to three years to train a dog and that they practised their skills in different terrains. The Search Dogs were involved in rescues on the fells, urban and coastal landscapes. They also trained the dogs to locate casualties buried by avalanches. John described the training methods of using a ‘dogsbody’ out on the fellside where dog and handler work together to bring the handler to the casualty. For this, the training radios paid for by the Society’s donation were a vital tool in maintaining effective communication between the handler and ‘dogsbody’ out on the fell. He thanked Society members for their fundraising efforts in enabling the group to purchase the radios.

The second beneficiary was Animal Rescue Cumbria and former manager, John Estensen gave members a potted history of the charity describing its beginnings in 1973 when a group of ladies took in stray cats and dogs into their homes. In 1975, Alfred & Betty Wainwright joined the group and a committee was set up to run the affairs of the charity with Wainwright as Chairman. it was registered as a charity and in 1985 enough money had been raised through donations of AW’s royalties and the sale of the copyright to enable the charity to purchase a plot of land with a bungalow called Kapellan, at Grayrigg, near Kendal. The charity now has a purpose built kennel and cattery for their animals and between 200 – 250 animals are rehomed every year. John said that the money would be used for a project to upgrade the office and shop facilities at Kapellan, which would allow more effective administration of the Animal Shelter.

John Bewick thanked both Johns for their interesting presentations and this was followed by the presentation of cheques for £6250 by Eric Robson, Caroline Nichol and Nick Holmes to each charity.

Eric, Caroline and Nick present £6250 in cheques to various charitiesEric Robson, Caroline Nichol and Nick Holmes presenting cheques for £6250 to John Estensen (Animal Rescue Cumbria) (centre) and John Leadbetter (Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs) (far right).
Photograph: Andrew Stainthorpe

The AGM commenced at 3 pm with Eric Robson in the Chair. He welcomed all members to the meeting. In his Chairman’s report, Eric highlighted the notable events of 2015 including the Memorial Lecture with Terry Abraham and the Society’s involvement in the Wainwright Prize awarded to the Book of the Year for outdoor and travel writing. The Encounters Project had over the past three years yielded 120 stories from people who met or knew Wainwright and the Society was publishing a book of these in May. Eric then informed members of forthcoming events planned for 2015, including the Wainwright Exhibition to be held at Keswick Museum and which the Society was supporting and also the Memorial Lecture in October.

Eric, Caroline and Nick present £6250 in cheques to various charitiesSociety Chairman, Eric Robson delivers his Chairman's report at the 2016 AGM of the Society.
Photograph: Andrew Stainthorpe

During his talk, the Chairman presented Niels Rasmussen with a framed photograph of his winning entry in the Society’s Themed Class of the Photographic Competition. This photograph also won the Best in Show and Niels was also presented with a framed print taken by photographer and judge of the competition, Derry Brabbs.

Eric, Caroline and Nick present £6250 in cheques to various charitiesEric Robson presents a framed landscape photograph taken by Derry Brabbs to Niels Rasmussen for winning Best in Show in the 2015 Photographic Competition.
Photograph: Andrew Stainthorpe

There was a special presentation to Jenny Whalley as retiring Calendar Team leader. This was a montage of the six calendars she helped to produce from 2010 – 2015.

Eric, Caroline and Nick present £6250 in cheques to various charitiesEric Robson presents Jenny Whalley with a montage of the six Society calendars that she produced from 2010 – 2015.
Photograph: Andrew Stainthorpe

The Society’s retiring Treasurer, John Pulford was thanked for all his hard work in managing the Society’s finances for the past 13 years. John was presented with a slate table centrepiece with Wainwright’s sketch of Bowfell, a mountain that John has climbed on more than sixty occasions.

Eric, Caroline and Nick present £6250 in cheques to various charitiesEric Robson presents a slate table centrepiece to retiring Treasurer, John Pulford.
Photograph: Andrew Stainthorpe

Following the Chairman’s report, there was the annual election of Officers of the Society. Eric Robson was re-elected Chairman of the Society, Derek Cockell was confirmed as Secretary and Ian Newton was elected Treasurer in place of John Pulford. Other members of the Committee were re-elected in their various capacities.

There were reports about Society Membership, Society Development, Finance and Events. The meeting ended with the Secretary’s report, which included a publicity update, details of the 2016 Memorial Lecture with Richard Else, the Wainwright Exhibition at Keswick and news of developments on the Coast to Coast Walk. Finally, there was an update of the outcome of the various campaigns that the Society had been involved in during the past year.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Chairman thanked members for attending.

Derek Cockell