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10 April 2021: HF Holidays AGMThe words 'THIS LIVE EVENT WILL START SOON' on a mainly black screen

This afternoon my wife and I attended the online Annual General Meeting of HF Holidays Limited, of which we have been members for many years. When we joined it was still called the Holiday Fellowship. We did attend the last physical AGM, which was held in London. This is the third General Meeting we have attended online. We both sat at our dining room table using our separate laptops, with the sound playing through my wife’s only.

The meeting was chaired by the President, Helen Boaden. To test the streaming service was running properly, she asked us all to use the online voting buttons that appeared to vote in favour of or against the colour of her outfit. (I thought it was red. My wife insisted it was orange. We both voted in favour.)

The first formal vote was on the approval of the minutes of the previous AGM. One person spoke had prepared a short video message against the proposal, on the grounds that the minutes did not fully reflect the comments she had made during the meeting.

The Chair of HF Holidays, Malcolm Oliver, proposed the motion approving the annual report and accounts. A review by the Society’s new auditors had confirmed it was a sound and going concern. However, as expected it had taken a severe financial hit during the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Oliver produced a graph showing how the surplus or deficit had fluctuated over the last 21 years. There were deficits in 2001, the year when foot and mouth disease was widespread, in 2008, the year of the banking crisis, and in 2012 and 2015. Subsequent years showed a surplus increasing each year. In 2020 the Society incurred its largest deficit ever.

To offset this it had taken advantage of government support schemes and declared some redundancies. For a while it had also suspended repayments of members’ capital. Despite this, membership had increased by 1,196 and members’ investments in the Society by £697,000.

Steve Swift, the Vice Chair, introduced the Society’s strategy for the next five years, which focuses on three areas: Product, Performance and People. Each of these is further divided into three key factors.

Tributes were paid to the Board members, particularly those who were retiring, and formal elections held for the Honorary Officer posts. The results of the elections of new directors, which had already been held, were announced.

This was followed by votes on proposed changes to the Rules and Regulations.

While all the votes were being checked, Chief Executive Officer David Harrington described some of the action the Society had taken to keep going during the Covid-19 restrictions. The relaxation of the rules from next Monday will the Society’s houses in the UK to reopen with revised procedures, for example dining will be socially distanced and a maximum of 14 guests will be allowed on each walk. All walks will start from the houses to reduce the use of public transport.

Finally, the results of all the votes were announced. One resolution was passed by a 100% vote in favour. One was passed with about 87% in favour. The remainder were all passed with favourable votes in the 90%s.

As previously, my wife and I were both impressed with the professionalism with which HF conducts its online meetings.