Due to rising Covid numbers this was our last face-to-face meeting of the year. Members were asked to take a lateral flow test before coming, to wear masks, and socially distance from people not in the same family group.
Despite the difficult circumstances those who were able, or safe, to get to Wesley Memorial had an enjoyable evening.
Having not met in our normal meeting place at Wesley Memorial Church in the centre for Oxford since March 2020, and having had our AGM last year via Zoom, it was great to be able to hold this year’s AGM as our first ever hybrid meeting.
This enabled some members who would otherwise have had to travel some distance, and those who are shielding to participate.
Each year at our Annual General Meeting we award the Roy Lewis Trophy to someone who has inspired us by their actions and contribution to our club. The past year has been difficult for so many people but our members chose to award trophies this year to three people who have stayed strong and positive in adversity. Their bravery through sadness and difficulty has been an inspiration to us all. We send our love to Trisha, Melissa and Katherine.
We also had physical confirmation of the results of our sponsored walk to raise money for Toilet Twinning, and were able to show off the certificates.
We raised enough to twin both accessible toilets and four taps at the church.
As well as the usual AGM business of elections, accounts etc it was an opportunity for members to see the new church atrium, with its automatic doors.
It has been a long wait for Wesley Memorial Open Doors building project to reach this stage, but the results are beautiful. They are also much more accessible. At the far end of the space between the church on the left and the John Wesley Room on the right, before the atrium was built, roughly where the wooden desk is, there was the door into the building. It was installed before accessibility was an issue, and so opened outwards, as fire escape doors should do, and had a door closer to prevent it staying open, to conserve energy. It was also at the top of quite a short steep slope, which has been converted into the gentle unnoticeable slope of the atrium. The combination of these factors meant that entering the premises in a wheelchair, even for someone who was normally independent, required three people, one entering, one holding the door and one pushing.
All the fundraising Oxford Phab did to help support the Open Doors project has been most worthwhile.
Tom’s wide range of questions reflected his wide range of interests, as well as the interests of club members. We played in teams, which was lucky, as the chances of a single individual (apart, presumably from Tom) being able to recognise, in the picture round, scenes from Paw Patrol and Gone with the Wind, were pretty slim.
Every year we make pancakes before Lent, and this year was no exception. The pancakes were cooked in the kitchen, and then we could add our preferred toppings out of a wide selection, ranging from the traditional sugar and lemon, through oranges with chocolate sauce to Biscoff sauce.
Fish and Chip Nights are always popular, although they do require a lot of organisation behind the scenes, researching possible chippies, getting menus and taking orders and money before the night. It is good to find somewhere which can deliver a large order – we tend to be in the upper twenties for order numbers – to the city centre.
Despite some complications everybody ended up well fed, but also not overwhelmed with excessive quantities of chips, which in a time when people are more aware of the issue of food waste, is a good thing.
We had Boccia on the programme, but had a committee meeting before club started, and discussions about our plans for the year, and hobbies and interests continued from there, so we never got round to getting the Boccia out.
Simon, having bought his laptop in for the committee meeting, showed me some of his videos of preserved railways.
Our Boccia referee, being deeply into politics, had a knowledgeable chat about the candidates for the Labour Party Leadership, and on other current topics our members hold views from staunch royalist to ardent republican we had plenty to talk about.
Since our first meeting of the year had been going to Motown The Musical, this was our opportunity to get together and chat. We caught up on books we are reading, what we did over Christmas, politics, astronomy, and the evening flew by.
We are also looking forward to all the activities in the new programme for Winter and Spring 2020.
Preparing Christmas Dinner for over 30 people involves quite a bit of preparation, planning and shopping for ingredients – even before the day of the meal. This year some of the items I won in the box of Christmas goodies which was second prize in the raffle at the Six Counties Kidney Patients Association Christmas meal could be put to good use.
We went to Wesley Memorial Church after lunch and got stuck into the preparation.
When our members and guests started to arrive Penny kept us entertained with game of Higher or Lower.
While the entertainment was happening in the Hall, the kitchen team were busy (in both kitchens), doing the final preparations.
We had turkey – supplied by Hedges Butchers, who not only gave us a good price, but provided cooking advice – pigs in blankets, bread sauce, roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts, carrots, peas, and vegetarian options.
The main course was followed by real Christmas Pudding, or strudel, Viennetta, mixed fruits etc.
It was a lovely way to close the year for our members, and to say thank you to our guests who have supported the club in many ways.
An Annual General Meeting may sound dull, but when your chair is a jolly as ours
it is a chance to look back on the fun things we did last year, and plan the exciting things we hope to do next year. Looking a bit further forward, Oxford Phab will have been running for 40 years in 2021, so we would like to celebrate that. Our History page has more of the story. We discussed the fundraising we will need to do to some fundraising to encourage donations towards a major event.