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5 September 2020: HF Holidays AGMA screenshot showing a circular chart alongside a bald man

My wife and I have been members of HF Holidays for decades. It is a co-operative society that runs walking and special interest holidays from country houses and hotels it owns or leases in the UK and walking and sight-seeing holidays based on hotels in Europe and elsewhere. For the overseas holidays it tries to use family-owned hotels. When we first started walking with HF it was known as the Holiday Fellowship and it still retains the same ethos.

We attended last year’s AGM in London. This year, of course, the AGM had to be held late and online. They used a system called StreamGo, which I hadn’t come across before. My wife and I logged in on our separate laptops but we only played the sound through mine.

It all worked very well and the organisation of the AGM had been well thought out. After an introduction from the Chairman, the Chief Executive explained the effects of the Covid restrictions on HF. At the outset they had to arrange for the rapid and safe repatriation of the guests and walk leaders who were taking part in the overseas holidays.

Then all holidays booked for the next few months had to be cancelled. All but one of the UK houses and hotels were later reopened but with fewer numbers and other changes to ensure that social distancing could be maintained. Plans were made to restart European holidays but these had to be abandoned because of the possibility of quarantine restrictions being imposed. Guests’ money has been refunded.

When the UK houses were closed one person was retained at each so they could be properly looked after. Other house staff were furloughed. Office staff were either switched to working from home or furloughed. Unfortunately some redundancies have been necessary.

The board will review future operations, particularly holidays outside Europe. HF was in a very strong financial position but this has been eroded by the effects of the lockdown and there may be a need to raise money on mortgages in the future.

There were then other presentations before we reached the formal part of the meeting, which included an announcement of the names of those elected to the board as a result of a recent ballot. For each of the four resolutions “For”, “Against” and “Abstain” buttons appeared onscreen and after a minute or so the Chair gave a ten-second countdown to the end of voting. All the resolutions were overwhelmingly passed.

The whole meeting lasted 1¾ hours.