Welcome to The Oriel – the new name for the e-newsletter of Wessex Waterways Restoration Trust.

The Trustees feel that a new brand and a new name for our newsletter are needed to set a new and more positive tone for our Charity. The last issue of Trident contained material critical of the government organisation that is the regulator for our sector and carried a name which is associated with a nuclear weapon system. We don’t feel that either of those aspects are things that we wish to carry forward into the future. The new brand has been chosen as it is the name of a bridge over the canal which we hope to restore in the near future. Oriel is a type of window – our newsletter serves the purpose of enabling members to see what WWRT is doing. The bridge in question was named for the Oxford college of that name, which owned some of the land in what we now know as Park Farm at Foxham.

The new board of trustees is keen to operate to better standards of governance than have been shown in the recent past. They intend, for the future, to lead an organisation which understands and does its best to deliver on its charitable objective. They will run the Trust in compliance with what is written in the Constitution and will regularly review the organisation against the Charity Governance Code for Small Charities – which is the published ‘gold standard’ for governance in smaller charities. The trustees want WWRT to be distinctive – we should not imitate or copy what has been done in other charities which have a different legal structure, or which have a different documented charitable purpose. Not all waterways trusts are aimed at delivery of a continuous navigable waterway linking two or more points, but Wessex Waterways clearly has been established to work towards that objective – linking to the other waterways around us at Semington at Latton and at Abingdon.

The handover from the four outgoing trustees to the new board formed at the end of October has not been as effective as members might hope and expect. There have been obstacles, some unnecessary, to be overcome. This has taken time and used effort that could have been used to make more progress on the ground, to communicate sooner with our members, and to communicate sooner with the wider world.

The Trustees wish to record thanks to those members who attended and showed responsible behaviour at the AGM, who made constructive comments, and who showed patience with those who attended and who added little of value. We are planning to set the date for the remainder of that adjourned meeting when we have the financial information for the year to end March 2020 available – allowing the period of notice as set out in the Constitution. Matt has now received the documents which Jan Flan felt she should retain until 29 March. We are grateful to Larry for travelling to Swindon and then to Rachael’s home to collect and deliver the records. Matt and Rachael met at an outdoor and public location to achieve a covid-compliant handover. Matt is now working on the necessary financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2020. As the constitution requires, the re-convened meeting will be only to complete any incomplete business NUMBER 1 which was on the agenda of the earlier meeting and to receive those accounts. The trustees are considering, after the formal Members Meeting has been completed, having a questions and answers session. If members have questions they wish to be answered in such a meeting please send them, in writing, to Rachael. Depending on the time available, additional questions raised verbally within the session will either be answered then or will be noted for written answers to be given through the newsletter.

We are making progress with a new website; the former Webmaster having decided to end the arrangement where our old website was held. The new website will go live as soon as it is ready, and we will add more news and material to it as we move forward.

The website will include ‘Frequently-Asked Questions’ about WWRT, what it does, why it does it and how it does it. If anyone asks a question where we feel the question and the answer to it should be published on the website, we’ll do that. We will let whoever asked the question know that’s what we’ve done, and we will thank them for raising the question.

We have a volunteer willing to be our Membership Secretary, but the Trustees do not expect that person to make their own personal email address public for the purpose. Unfortunately, despite being requested, the former Trustee who has control of the internet domain that has previously been used for @wessexwaterways email aliases and accounts has not yet handed over control so we can’t yet use the membership secretary address we used in the past.

Without our membership secretary having an @wessex-waterways email account we’re not able to make much progress with updating and correcting our membership records. The Trustees apologise for this situation. If you know your membership is due and wish to make a payment there are two ways to do this. Either, please make an on-line payment to the WWRT account (details below) and drop an email to Matt, including what reference you used to identify the payment – either your name or your membership number; or, if you wish to pay by cheque please include a note of your name and mention that the payment is for your membership subscription and post it to Rachael. Cheques should be made out to Wessex Waterways Restoration Trust. On-line payments should go to Wess Wate Rest T account number 93298345, sort code 20-98-68. Matt’s email address is [email protected]. Rachael’s address is 5 Canal Cottages, Dauntsey Lock, Chippenham SN15 4HD.

The door to the Toybox – a saga for inclusion in a future issue of The Oriel

One final thought, for anyone thinking of joining a work party: available on request from most pharmacies now are free Covid test kits so you can be sure you are not infectious before you turn up. All at the work party will appreciate you doing this – though the Covid secure working arrangements will still apply.