Club News - No: 60 APRIL-MAY 2014

 

"From the Chair"

 

Your Club is Ten years Old:

 
This year the Ford & Fordson Association celebrates its tenth anniversary; but it is now a very different Club from that which was formed a decade ago. Of course nothing stands still but members are entitled to know how and why the Club has changed.
Many of you will remember the inaugural Annual General Meeting at Bentwaters courtesy of Bill Kemble in 2004, the tour round the former USAF base and having a peek in his sheds which were full of tractors to bursting point, there have been many memorable AGM’s since. I remember that first meeting well and there didn’t seem to be a cloud on the horizon.  How things were to change.
 
The first Issue of the magazine, then titled ’The Ford & Fordson Association’ was published in June 2004, with Peter Squires as editor; it was a fairly slim volume.  By the sixth issue Peter Simpson had taken over as editor and he stayed until issue 35. However at issue 12 the name was changed to Ford & Fordson Tractors, this was to widen its appeal and the number of pages was growing.  Steve Wright took over for the next four issues and Peter Love followed him, Peter continued until issue 55.  Scott Lambert was the editor for the next three issues and we welcome Howard Sherren as the new editor of this issue.  The masthead design was changed at issue 57 but the title remained the same, it is a high quality magazine that covers the wide range of interests of Ford and Fordson enthusiasts.
 
From the start the Club was bankrolled by Kelsey and the magazine was intended to be both the Club’s mouth piece but also a source of profits for Kelsey, just as any other of their publications are today. Unfortunately the general membership did not fully understand the true nature of the relationship with Kelsey.  I have never understood why this was not clearly explained, but suspect that a combination of commercially sensitive considerations and a feeling that, in any event, the members were getting good value for their money may well have been the main reasons.
Kelsey bought and owned all the merchandise; they also paid for and provided professional secretarial and other services required to run the Club together with, for example, providing publicity material for the Expo and other Club events.  Subscription automatically entitled the subscriber to both membership of the Club and to receive the magazine.  In return the Club, at shows and gatherings, encouraged like-minded enthusiasts to join and also sold the merchandise. The receipts from which were remitted to Kelsey, which was only right and proper.
 
There were certainly commercial and journalistic pressures at work that were at times perceived not to be to Club members’ advantage also Kelsey saw little reason to publish the “Clubs” accounts as it was, after all, their own money.  Had all this been properly explained much angst would have been avoided and the outcome might well have been different.
 
In any case at the end of 2010, following that year’s AGM, matters came to a head and Kelsey decided to sever its relationship with the Club. I was not party to the discussions at that time, nor was I on the committee and therefore make no comment.  However it is a matter of fact that the both the Chairman and President resigned, Peter Godwin, the previous chairman, agreed to take the chair for a further year and I amongst others were co-opted onto the committee.
 
The start of 2011 saw the Club truly independent but with no money and no income; members subscriptions were paid directly to Kelsey not to us.  We did not even have our own bank account, I’m sure that like myself you will be surprised by this but will now understand that there had been no reason to have one before! 
A series of meetings with Kelsey followed and as a result, they very generously agreed to sponsor us, and that sponsorship continues.  They also donated to us their stock of Club merchandise and agreed to provide pages in the magazine both for Club news and merchandise; they wished us well. I’m pleased to say that our relationship has remained cordial ever since.
 
However the committee was faced with a mountain to climb and serious doubts were expressed as to the Clubs viability.  Hard decisions were made, a new class of membership without the magazine was introduced, Kelsey agreed to pay the Club commission on members joining and subscribing to the magazine, advertising on the website began, the sale of merchandise continued and revenue was received from vehicle registrations.
 
Some three years on the Club is on a sound financial footing, we are truly independent, there are always improvements to be made and with your help and support we shall continue to prosper.