The NCBA AGM and the Free Lunch!

image_19This time last week, I was getting on a very early train to Walsall for the NCBA Annual General Meeting. I didn’t really know what to expect, I haven’t really been involved with the Trust for long, but I have heard good things about the free lunch, and it was a great excuse for a day out!

Coffee and networking

Well I arrived at the Forest Arts Centre in Walsall, and having worked out which door to go through, I found two lovely ladies from The Wharf at Calf Heath waiting to sign in all the delegates. I was given a ‘voting pin’ and pointed in the direction of coffee, with strict instructions to vote for the best photo on the board, for the new ‘Photographer of the Year’ award.

Having voted, I looked around the hall – not too many people in yet, but it wasn’t quite 10.00am, I looked around and spied a table with just two girls sitting down, and decided I would make a beeline for them (lucky them!). They turned out to be Debs and Cat from the Nottingham Narrowboat Project. Debs had left home at 5am that morning, to come to the AGM, picking up Cat on the way. Suddenly my 6.30am start seemed positively leisurely!

Meeting the Senior Trainers

I shed all my baggage and my coat, I looked for someone who seemed to be in charge, so that I might introduce myself, and found Derek Stansfield, who shook my hand and pointed me towards Bob Ratcliffe (Senior Trainer / Moderator & NCBA Admin).

After I made myself known to the proper people, I fetched more coffee and sat down to have a chat with Debs and Cat, after all, this was prescribed ‘networking’ time, so I did my best, we were shortly joined by John Embling and Patrick Titman from the Accessible Boating Association. The day was turning into exactly what I had hoped for, a chance to meet and chat with individual community boat projects and find out a bit more about each one and the challenges they face.

How did the NCBA begin?

At 10.30am, we were called to order and Derek (NCBA Director of Training) treated us to a trip through time, as he told us about the history of the NCBA. Did you know The NCBA started out as The Community Boats Association and was formed in 1985 by 5 small community boating organisations working in the Coventry area? That’s 30 years ago next year! We now have well over 60 member projects, and two more joined just this week! He also talked about his own remarkable boating history and how that lead to his wanting to be involved with the NCBA.

At the end of his introduction, Derek mentioned what the NCBA Trustees wanted to do with the day: On the way in the door that morning, we had each been asked to sign up to two workshops, a morning one and an afternoon one. I chose ‘National Voice’ and ‘Networking’, as those are the two areas that I am most involved in. There was also a workshop on Training and one on Working Better.

The workshops were good. Actually, they were great. I got to meet lots of people from different projects, and hear their thoughts on the future of the NCBA – brilliant stuff!

image_11And the winner is…

After our morning brain workouts, we gathered together again for the presentation of the 4 new annual awards.

Photographer of the Year. – Lee Davies

Most Pro-active Trainer of the Year – Patrick Titman

Accredited Training Centre of the YearAdams Ark Training Centre

Member Project of the YearHuelweyn Trust.


Then it came time to elect new volunteers to the Board of Trustees. The nominations were Lee Davies (The Sobriety Project), Patrick Titman (Accessible Boating Association), Paul Unwin (Chesterfield Canal Trust) and Neville Ward (The Wharf Narrowboat). Each of them was elected to the board of Trustees by a unanimous vote from everyone at the AGM.


Food for thought

Then it was time for the free lunch, and I must say, it was outstanding! Loads of variety – especially good for me as I have (possibly foolishly) given up bread, cake and biscuits for Lent!

Post lunch, It was time to exercise our brains again and go to our afternoon workshop. More chance to meet people from a variety of member projects, as well as some of the new Trustees.

There was a lot to talk about, but it seemed that we had only just got going, before it was time for coffee. Then we sat down to hear the conclusions of that day’s workshops from each of the volunteers running them.

There was a lot of enthusiasm and ideas for developing the NCBA website. Plans were made to include more information about individual projects and training. Members who were not at the AGM should get in touch with Bob Ratcliffe with their suggestions as soon as possible, as the new improvements are planned for the very near future.

What information would you like to see on our website or blog? Leave us a comment below.

Article and photos by Corinne Thomsett who manages our Facebook and Twitter accounts.


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