Chair Report – February 2021

 

Thank you to all the directors, members and volunteers who have given their time, expertise and support to enable us to carry out all that we have achieved over the past 17 months.

There have been several changes to our Board of Directors since the last AGM in August 2019, details are included in the documents accompanying your Notice of Meeting. Unfortunately, we have lost some long term, very experienced members but with those that have continued to serve, along with the new members, we still have a good team that possess the skills and experience we need. ACE can only be as good as its Board, and we are always looking for new blood to bring fresh ideas and support our work. Any member who feels they would like to get involved, no special skills are required, just enthusiasm and willingness to be part of the team that is working towards making Aviemore a better place to live. If you are interested, please get in touch with us to discuss or to request an application form.

As required under the terms of our Articles of Association, the following Directors will stand down at this AGM: Kathleen Cameron, Beth Hay, Peter Long, Debbie Khaddi, Judith Bell. All are standing for re-election.

Despite the pandemic, the Company has made notable progress on a number of projects, details to follow.  We also have a few new ideas and plans in the pipeline, some are at the early planning stage, like looking at reintroducing the banners, getting our own website, and admittedly, some are just a thought as yet. We’ll share those when we have something to report. Obviously, the pandemic has had quite a detrimental effect on some operations and particularly on our fundraising and events in 2020.

Christmas Eve Parade – This was one event that fell foul of the pandemic in 2020. We were very disappointed but due to the restrictions and guidelines in place at the time, unfortunately there was no option for us to make any other decision.  The 2019 the event was very successful and enjoyed by everyone who attended and took part, and we look forward to reintroducing the parade in 2021.

Village Green (jointly managed with the community council) – Phase 1 is complete and the village green now has a new bandstand and the Olympic statue has been moved to a better, more prominent position.  An application for funding from the Town Centre Fund has been submitted for Phase 2. This will include the addition of permanent accessible access to the bandstand, new seating and landscaping. If our application is successful (and we have every reason to believe it will be), we will progress the works as soon as possible.

Winter Lights – ACE agreed to take over the Winter Lights when the council were unable to do so due to budget cutbacks. Thanks to the generosity of local businesses, the community and individuals we raised a staggering £5922.57 through a fundraising Race Night, an online auction and several individual donations.

We purchased 12 new lights at a total cost of £3582.58. We  express our sincere thanks to the great team of volunteers who, led by Mike Gale, Michael Dearman and Joe Kirby, did the work of putting them up along the main street, carrying out necessary testing and maintenance and continue to do so on an ongoing basis. We were unable to take the lights down in spring as normal due to Covid restrictions, meaning the lights will have been on display for 18 months before they come down and go into storage this year.

We also purchased one very special light; ‘Hamish’, as named by the Board when we had first sight of the drawing.  ‘Hamish’ was the winning entry in the competition to design a bespoke winter light for the village by the pupils in Primary 6 at Aviemore Primary School.  Initially, the whole school voted on the classes’ designs to narrow the entries down, the final shortlist of four were then put out to the community to make their choice.  ‘Hamish’, by Hamish Ball was the clear winner and the light now hangs in pride of place at the village green.

Storage Shed – The Legion have kindly provided us the space to erect a shed where we can store the winter lights and other equipment when not in use. We look forward to getting that ready for when the lights come down.

Floral Display – Because of the pandemic the floral displays were very much affected last year. The company and Highland Council were both unable to supply flowers for the hanging baskets and planters, as they had in previous years due to lockdown. In their place, Phillipa Grant at Rothiemurchus kindly supplied wildflower seeds which were spread by local children into the planters and ACE purchased and planted summer flowering bulbs to ensure there would be some colour once lockdown was lifted. We also planted early flowering bulbs which should brighten up the village on the dullest days early this year.  It is our intention, in conjunction with Aviemore and Vicinity Community Council, to continue with the wildflower theme, and as part of this, have harvested seeds from last year’s planting for future use.

School pencil cases – When Aviemore Primary School reopened after the initial lockdown in August 2020, we were made aware that due to COVID-19 restrictions, pupils were not allowed to share pens, pencils etc in the classroom and were also not permitted to bring their equipment in and out of school every day from home. To help resolve this problem ACE provided 255 fully stocked pencil cases, one for each child, containing all the implements they needed.

Outdoor Classroom – After discussions with the school and playgroup, we have plans to erect an outdoor classroom in an area at the far north end of the ‘pony field’. An architect has prepared initial drawings, and discussions are ongoing with Macdonalds and Tullochs re the location.

Community Land – Dalfaber Drive – Coming soon will be a consultation to gain the communities opinion on what type of facility they would like to see on the community land on Dalfaber Drive (the area just before the railway line, opposite the vets). Early suggestions include a men’s shed, a skatepark and a permanent storage facility for the winter lights, tents and other ACE property, and perhaps even a small meeting room and office.

Fundraising – The Board have been very conscious that due to the pandemic, many individuals, families and businesses have been and are still struggling and we therefore did not feel comfortable asking for donations or fundraising for the floral displays and winter lights last year. We do now have a number of ideas that will be mutually beneficial to anyone who chooses to be involved, these include an online auction, a monthly lucky number draw and, in the long term, perhaps even an Aviemore cookery book. We’ll be progressing those projects in the coming months and are also hoping to be able to re- introduce some events, like a race night and possibly a ladies event, later this year.

IT and Communications – We have taken advantage of Microsoft’s Free for Charities products and been able to make a number of improvements in our systems including the introduction of Office 365 products for email, online meetings and document storage. We also have a new online membership form which has made it more shareable and more accessible for new members. The Board are working towards making email our primary method to contact members which will make communication easier and more cost effective. Thank you to everyone who has updated their details to include an email address.

ACE now owns the domain name, aviemorecommunity.org, and all board members have their own official ACE email address. We are in the initial phases of planning a website, as briefly mentioned earlier, the site will display our new logo, which we hope you have noticed and approve of. Activity on social media has increased in an attempt to demonstrate the work we are doing to our members and the wider community.

Membership – Our membership currently stands at 104 Individuals, 2 Juniors and 2 Organisations plus we have several new applications waiting to be approved by the Board. It’s nice to see the numbers growing, albeit slowly, and we will continue to promote ACE within the community and vicinity with the purpose of growing our membership to help us achieve our aims and objectives and make Aviemore a better place to live.

Thank you for taking the time to read my report, if you have any questions or are interested in getting more involved, please get in touch.

Kind regards

Judith Bell

Chairperson