Firstly, a Happy Christmas and New Year to you and your families or if you're reading this after the event, I hope you all had a good one. Well, almost the end of another year as I write this, so some reflections on the year and things to look forward to.
I feel it's been a bit of an odd year and somewhat unpredictable following the end of Covid lockdowns and not quite seeing where the hobby or public interest will go from there and seeing the lots of speculation generated. For me, I did not get out and about with the trucks as much as I would have liked for various reasons. However, we did get out and it was great to do so again. The Marks Tey event at their new location was really good with around 90 vehicles in attendance many of which were Essex HMVA members, with a great friendly atmosphere, it was brilliant to see and chat with so many people who we have not seen for the last couple of years. It's fair to say that working out how long we have known many of them did make me feel a bit old!
Our Winter Gathering (AKA Bum Freezer) was a great success with around 100 vehicles in attendance; it probably would have been more were it not for the poor weather forecasts. The Armed Forces Day on Maldon Prom turned out to be a huge success attendance-wise with big public numbers with loads of interest and compliments on the displays. Both events are on for 2023 by the way.
The Echoes Of History Show and the Site had lots of good feedback; it was the first one at the site and we know there is plenty of room for improvement, which we are working on for the 2023 event. Attendance- wise it was comparable with other local events but lower than we would have liked; it's the first time we have ever had an event disrupted by extreme heat. We have had wind, rain and snow even, disrupt our events in the past but extreme heat was a new one. It's been suggested that we haven't had a plague of locusts yet so we will wait on that one.
Our Membership stands at 270 plus. Members based mainly in Essex but also other areas of the UK and in Europe. We receive applications every month which is good news as it's this support that allows us to keep going. Sadly, we have had two members pass away this year, Paul Adams and Eric Elmer both respected members of the Charity who I know will be missed by us all.
Funding-wise we are about to enter into a couple of meetings to explore the possibility of obtaining some grant funding for some display projects we have in mind. This is a first for us so no telling how it will go. Usually, we fall between the cracks for grants, but we feel we might have something here; more infomation when we have it.
The Essex HMVA conducts a MV verification service for owners who want to road register their vehicles either after import or restoration. This year is the busiest we have had with a cross section of vehicles from Jeeps to tanks. We have maintained our 100% success rate for getting them through. If you use this service please let us know how it goes and if there are issues we will see if we can help. The DVLA can be unpredictable and lockdown didn't help but seem to have improved now. Time-wise, some have gone though in a matter of weeks and some rather longer. In conducting the verification, we have to research into the vehicle's history and have now amassed a reasonable size research library, managed by Peter Smith our Treasurer. We need this as the DVLA place requirements on us in order for us to conduct this activity. We are talking about putting together a guide to help owners through the process which might be helpful, as there are a few pitfalls that seem to commonly pop up.
A couple of meetings ago I was asked about how many hours a week do I put into managing the Charity, I said about 8 to 16 hours a week, a lot more when one of our events come up. Out of curiosity I logged the following week which included vehicle verifications and some meeting attendance/planning and I clocked 26hrs so I guess it's good I'm retired.
I also want to say I'm not the only one doing this, Marion puts in a fair few hours supporting, arranging, planning and writing minutes and working with the Trustees on various bits and pieces. One of the other elements looked after primally by Peter and David supported by the Trustees when required, is the regulatory compliance of the Charity. They seem to update and put out new compliance regulations with alarming regularity. David and Russ probably spend more time than all of us working on the monthly newsletter, Olive Drab, You Tube, Facebook, generating publicity material, posters and Russ also helps out with our event paperwork submissions. David generates our risk assessments and management plans which are subject to scrutiny and are needed for every EHMVA event which also involve Trustees input and require their sign off. Our EoH show management plan runs to over 100 pages. We all help where we can, a mention here to Kerry and Laura who also help with the social media and Karen and Mark in particular who spread the word and actively promote the Essex HMVA at numerous events and have helped to increase our membership numbers. Thanks also to those who have submitted information or articles to Olive Drab, they are greatly appreciated by the team and makes their work a little easier.
One of the things I've been trying to improve on is the public and civic awareness of us as a Charity. I've been doing this by getting involved with local and County Societies and Councils in addition to local history and heritage groups and clubs. Stuart Banning has also been helping with contact from local civic groups around the Kelvedon area and has agreed to work with us to create an Events Diary, something we get asked for often. Please pass any forthcoming events on to us, to be passed on to Stuart. We plan to run the Events page on the web site and in the members Facebook page. We have had the Maldon MP attend many of our events now and he has been actively supporting us as have Chelmsford Civic Society who we have now worked with on several events. Some of these contacts work out really well for us others not so much. An example is one that we were asked to discuss a possible joint venture. Meetings were arranged and a tentative set of ideas planned. On arriving for the meeting no one turned up and I have not had anything from them since, this does call into question is this the sort of organisation we would want to commit to working with. This and others can take a lot of time with little success, however, we do get positive results as well, so I guess it evens out. One of these and a totally unexpected one, resulted in the Charity becoming a long-term custodian of a 1942 Ford GPW Jeep, when it first arrived it had been outside for a while and although drivable, well sort off, it was in a sorry state. Our aim was to make it presentable, safe and reliable to use and on the way to doing so, have made a few discoveries, including it's use in the film A Bridge Too Far. It now has its original bonnet number and name found under layers of paint. The plan is for the Jeep to be looked after and used by members. "Esther" as she is named, now has her own Facebook page so you can keep up to date on all things "Esther".
Thanks to Russ and David we have a high social media profile with several Facebook groups, The HMVA one, Echos Of History, Members Support Group, Echoes Of History Reenactors Group and Esther the Airborne Jeep. This is in addition to our You Tube content. Some of the groups have a good circulation of over the 5K mark, one of the You Tube videos hit over 46K hits!
You receive our latest information via the regular newsletters and Olive Drab. If we need to get anything out to you quickly, we use either this method or the Members support assistance FB page, so if you do not want to miss out it's worth joining if you're not already on it. On the subject of club magazines, I saw a similar group to ours won an award for their magazine I know I'm biased but I thought that our Olive Drab magazine was at least as good. I mentioned this to the team and I was reminded that our magazine was selected by the British Library as being a magazine that accurately documents historical events and as such was selected by the Library as one they wish to hold in their archives.We have to supply a copy of every issue to the British Library for archival, this has been going on for some time and I'm not sure many members are aware of this; it's something of an honour to have our magazine selected for archiving. Something else to mention, we are being asked more frequently to take part or present military heritage related talks. Both George King and Stuart Banning have presented several to schools and clubs. Si James has also presented talks and tours of his collection and I attended his collection Open Day and which was great, nice BBQ by the way! Also, our members who represent the Raydon Battle Group should not be left out here for the brilliant work they are doing on their collection and in helping out at EoH.
We are planning to try something of a first for us by taking a stall at Stoneleigh to promote our Echos Of History Show and the Essex HMVA in general.
For 2023 we can confirm:
Sunday 5th February - Winter Gathering at Maldon Prom (EHMVA Organised).
Sunday 25th June - Armed Forces Day at Maldon Prom (EHMVA Organised)
Sunday 2nd July - Maldon Car Show at Maldon Prom
? Galleywood Heritage Center
September Date TBC Oaklands Park (Chelmsford) Military Museum (EHMVA Organised).
Saturday and Sunday 12th/13th August, Echoes of History 2023 at Whitehouse Farm, The Living Memorial, Rettendon.
As always, we are looking for people to help us run things, particularly for the show and if you wish to help, even in a small way, please let us know.
I would like, on behalf of the Trustees and myself, to thank all those who helped, attended and supported the Essex HMVA and a special mention to the Echoes Of History Show team and all the volunteers for your time and efforts.