The study and appreciation of the life, works and times of Arnold Bennett

Arnold Bennett Society AGM 28 November 2020

Article Written:

Arnold Bennett Society Minutes of

the Annual General Meeting

and Book Award 2020

Held by Zoom at 2.00pm on Saturday 28 November 2020

TAKING PART BY ZOOM                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Rod Boroughs   Jim Bryant   Fiona Cole   Christine Conlin   Carole Cregan  John Davies   Maire Davies   Denis Eldin   Alastair Gilchrist   Carol Gorton   Richard Gorton  Jenny  Graveson   Richard Grieve   Ruth Hall   Gillian Hamill   Chitose Ikawa   Ray Johnson  Morag Jones   Martin Laux   Elizabeth Leslie   Pat Marshall   Virginia Meir   Penny Michell   Jerry Park   Alan Pedley   Janet Pointon   Keith Pointon   Les Powner   Lee Sanderson    John Shapcott   Christine Till   Simon Turk   Kath Walton   Brian Worthington     Susan Worthington


Erika Alcock   Catherine Burgass   Sue Hallam   Fred Hughes   Sue Powner   Roger Statham   Wendy Statham


Opening the meeting, Les Powner (Chair) welcomed those taking part, particularly Denis Eldin (President) and Chitose Ikawa who were participating from beyond the UK.

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS AGM                                                                                               The meeting unanimously agreed to approve the minutes of the AGM held on Saturday 19 October 2019 as an accurate record, subject to noting some typing errors.

MATTERS ARISING FROM THE PREVIOUS MINUTES                                                       Replying to an enquiry from John Davies, Les Powner suggested that the Committee should establish whether Bennett’s family home at 205 Waterloo Road had in fact been sold; and, if it had, make an appropriate approach to its new owners.

ANNUAL ACCOUNTS 2019/2020                                                                                                                   Carol Gorton (Treasurer) had circulated the Balance Sheet and Income & Expenditure Account for the year ending 31 August 2020.
Les Powner pointed out that, if Kevin Burke’s nomination (see below) for the office of Treasurer was successful, as a trustee he would become ineligible to remain the Society’s Auditor. In that event, the Committee would confirm alternative audit arrangements.
There were no questions from the floor, and the meeting unanimously agreed to approve the Accounts for 2019/20.                                                                                                          

OFFICERS’ REPORTS                                                                                                     

Les Powner introduced his own written report (circulated) as Chair. He thanked the officers and members for their work for the Society during the difficulties caused by the pandemic; and for the support they had given him throughout his period of office. With regret, he reported the death of Society stalwart John Potter, of whom there would be an appreciation in the next Newsletter. 

Introducing the written reports (circulated) of the Secretary (Catherine Burgass), Membership Secretary (Fiona Cole), Social Secretary (Carole Gregan), Book Award Convenor (Morag Jones) and Assistant Newsletter Editor (Rod Boroughs), Les explained that Catherine had acted as Secretary only temporarily, and that the pandemic had necessarily limited the Society’s social activities to the Literary Lunch in December 2019 and the Annual Talk in February 2020.

Fiona Cole added that although the Society was continuing to attract new members, around fifty annual subscriptions remained outstanding.

The meeting unanimously agreed to receive the officers’ reports.


 Les Powner explained that each officer of the Society automatically became a trustee on election, although not every trustee need serve as an officer. He reported that the following nominations had been received:        

Chair                                                     Ray Johnson                                                                                                             

Vice-Chair                                           Morag Jones                                                                                                     

Secretary/Facebook posts            Carol Gorton                                                                                                     

Treasurer                                            Kevin Burke                                                                                      

Membership Secretary                   Fiona Cole                                                                                                          

Social Secretary                                Virginia Meir                                                                                     

Book Award Convenor                   Morag Jones                                                                            

Newsletter Editor                             Randi Saloman                                                                       

Newsletter Editor (Assistant)      Rod Boroughs

Minutes Secretary                            Jerry Park                                                                             

Twitter posts                                      John Davies

Trustee (without office)                Erika Alcock

The meeting unanimously agreed that the above nominees should be elected en bloc and form the Committee for 2020/21.  

At this point, Ray Johnson took over the chair from Les Powner. On behalf of the Society, he thanked Les for his contribution to its work during a particularly difficult year. He was sure that the Society would continue to flourish if it remained alert to ideas and suggestions from across the membership. 

ANY OTHER BUSINESS                                                                                  


Denis Eldin and Jenny Graveson suggested that the Society website could be more visually     attractive, responsive to interactive enquiries, user-friendly and up to date. Ray Johnson replied that the Committee would review arrangements for the design and maintenance of the website.


Richard Grieve added his own thanks to those already given for the immense contribution of Les Powner, and of the trustees and other volunteers, to the work of the Society. Alastair Gilchrist also thanked Ray Johnson for his entertaining contributions to the study of Bennett. 

TIME & DATE OF 2021 AGM                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

The meeting agreed that the next AGM should take place at 2.00pm on Saturday 30 October 2021 at a venue (or by a medium) to be determined by the Committee.
ARNOLD BENNETT BOOK PRIZE 2020                                                                                              At the conclusion of the meeting, Morag Jones introduced three of the four authors shortlisted for award of the Prize: Lisa Blower, Deborah McAndrew and John Shapcott.

She explained that 26 submissions had been received by the closing date for entries on 31 January 2020, The Panel had met only once before Lockdown I, but maintained communication thereafter by email, Zoom and phone. It had published its agreed long-list of twelve potential winners on the Society website, before reducing it to the following short-list of four:

It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s by Lisa Blower (short stories)
Pitying the Planet by Peter Cash (poetry)
The D Road by Deborah McAndrew (drama)
Arnold Bennett and Frederick Marriott Parallel Lives by John Shapcott (biography)

At Morag’s request, each of the three writers present then introduced her/his entry and read aloud a brief extract from it. As Peter Cash was unable to attend, Morag read out one of his poems. 

After the final reading, Morag announced that the Arnold Bennett Book Prize 2020 was to be awarded to Lisa Blower, and congratulated her on behalf of the Society. She added that the Society would next award the Prize at its AGM in 2022. That award would take account of entries from both 2020/21 and 2021/22. 

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