Tuesday, 9 February 2016

RSC Belgium 2016 AGM report

The section's Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Annual Dinner took place at Les Amis Dinent restaurant in Wezembeek-Oppem on the evening of Friday 15 January 2016. The meeting opened at 19:35 with 10 members and 1 co-opted committee member. In addition sixteen members who were unable to attend the AGM had asked the Chairman to act as their proxy for the meeting if a vote was required. This enabled a working quorum for the meeting to be obtained under our section rules.

Following approval of the minutes of the previous AGM that took place on 16 January 2015 section Secretary Becki Scott presented the Committee Report on the Section’s 2015 Activities.

2015 Highlights 
During the year the section organised five public events, two Saturday social excursions, and a visit from the RSC's CEO: Robert Parker. Total section membership stood at 132 – a net increase of six over the year.

Among highlights of the year were the CafĂ© Chimique on Climate Change, Prof Avril MacDonald’s series of demonstration lectures for schools and the public in February, a lively demonstration lecture by Prof Sir John Holman and two guided tours: one of the Waterloo Battlefield in May and the other of the WWI front lines in September. The 2015 Chemistry Challenge competition had attracted increased participation with the prizes given out at Peter Atkins’ event in October.

Feedback had been received from Cardiff University that Ms Dale Lyons (the first recipient of our Norman Lloyd scholarship) had performed exceptionally well in her first year and the next recipient had been selected: Rhodri Evans.

Financial aspects
Rita Woodward presented the 2015 financial report and accounts. In general, 2015 had been a good year for schools events. The section made a net deficit of just over 1200 euros with a remaining balance of c. 6000 euros. The committee aims to keep the account at around 7000 euros due to Belgian regulations meaning that the section officers are responsible for any deficit. A future grant of 9000 euros will be requested from HQ. The accounts had been signed off by the auditor Ralph Palim. Ralph had also a greed to continue as auditor for the section.

Our Chairman, Tim Reynolds, thanked the committee for their hard work and support during the year. He highlighted the “Fantastic Plastic” events that had been taken to the schools, rather than all the schools visiting a set location. This had proven extremely successful and was something the section is hoping to repeat with Andrew Hanson’s “Colour is Fun” events in March 2016. The Chairman thanked Ian Carson for his input, hard work, and organisation with these events. Ian also thanked UCL, Fabio, and BSB for their help with the chemicals etc used in the “Fantastic Plastic” talks. Tim went on to report that John Holman’s talk had also proved to be a very popular event. He also acknowledged that the section had a disappointing end to the year, with the cancellation of two events due to the security situation in Brussels. He went on to say that a good programme was coming together for 2016 and he thanked all members for their continued support of the section.

Following elections the RSC Belgium Executive Committee for 2016 has the following membership: Mr Tim Reynolds (Chairman), Mrs Rita Woodward (Treasurer), Dr Becki Scott (Secretary), Prof Bob Crichton (elected committee member), Prof Brian Sutcliffe (elected committee member), Dr David Terrell (elected committee member), Mr John Swift (elected committee member, and Dr Ian Carson (elected committee member).

The first meeting of the new Executive will be on 17 February 2016 where co-opted members will be confirmed.

International issues
Bob Crichton brought to the attention of members the proposed regulations of the RSC's Outreach Working Group (OWG) which will affect the way international sections operate. Prof David Evans of the Beijing section who sits on the OWG had approached the Belgium section committee for their opinion and feedback on the proposed regulation changes. The section felt that the move to restrict the amount of the budget spent on outreach to 50% could be very limiting to the range of activities which we undertook. The discussions at the OWG indicated that all local section representatives were opposed to the changes. It is felt that these changes will undermine the work of the individual sections. We have also been asked to clarify the numbers of members and non-members attending events. This is a worrying precedent because many of our events have a large non-member attendance. Many local sections rely on the support of volunteers.

Tim, as the Chair of the International Steering Group, will communicate directly with HQ and the networks over this issue.

There being no other business, the meeting closed at 19:58. The AGM was followed by the 2016 Annual Dinner (see above) of the RSC Belgium section.

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