AGM Minutes 2021

Minutes of the 43rd ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING, held online by Zoom, Saturday, 19 June 2021

Members present – Sajidah Ahmad, Khalifa AlDhaheri, Nabegh Ghazal Asswad, Mike Blair, Murray Brown, Elaine Cowan, Tomas Haraldsson, Ian Harrison, Chris Hughes, Nick Moran, Deborah Newman, Richard Porter, Hana Raza, Nigel Redman, Phil Roberts, Rob Sheldon, Paul Stancliffe, Jane Stylianou, Effie Warr, John Warr.

  1. Apologies for absence were received from Dominic Mitchell, Alexander Scherbina and Arend Wassink  
  • Minutes of the 42nd Annual General Meeting held on 28 November 2020. Chairman Rob Sheldon thanked Simon Tull for the suggestion to add a Birds of the Middle East Arabic app button to the home page and that this has been actioned.

Acceptance of the Minutes was carried unanimously via a Zoom poll.

  • Matters arising.

There were no matters arising

  • Chairman’s overview of 2020.

Rob Sheldon reminded members that full details are available in the Trustees Report which is on the OSME website and that he would only outline key achievements at the AGM.

  1. The total expenditure through OSME’s small grants programme in 2020 was an impressive £31,530.
  2. A record amount of £22,723 was spent through The Conservation Fund supporting 11 projects right across the OSME region. This caps a period of growth in Conservation Fund spending since 2015. The Chairman thanked donors who have specifically supported the Conservation Fund which has enabled the recent growth in expenditure. The Chairman also thanked all the members of the Conservation Fund committee who review and make recommendations to Council. 
  3. Youth Development Fund – during 2020, most projects were cancelled due to Covid.  Two projects did go ahead, one in Georgia and another in Turkey.
  4. The Trevor Poyser Species Conservation awards one grant of £5000 each year. This year the fund supported a project on the globally Vulnerable Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus by the Association for Bird Conservation in Lebanon (ABCL).
  5. Due to Covid OSME used online meetings instead of face-to-face meetings. This increased engagement with members across the region.

Council expects to continue with online meeting, even when in-person meetings are possible again. The AGM was also held online, receiving very positive comments from those members who were able to attend for the first time.

  • Sandgrouse. Two issues were published in 2020. The page count has grown in recent years. A high-quality digital version of Sandgrouse is also available and members can opt to receive digital copies only.
  • Governance. OSME council formally met in 2020 (virtually) 3 times. Additionally, there is ongoing dialogue via email and ad-hoc meetings, and all activities are run in accordance with our charitable status.
  • Acknowledgements. The Chairman thanked OSME Council for their support and hard work in 2020. OSME’s Corporate Sponsors were also acknowledged for their ongoing support during this challenging period and suggested that OSME Members should consider using their services. The Chairman thanked the BTO for allowing use of their Zoom facilities over the past year.
  • The Chairman requested that any attendees who are interested in supporting OSME’s work, to contact him
  • Presentation and adoption of the Accounts for 2019/Appointment of Accounts Examiner for 2021.

Chris Hughes, Joint Treasurer, highlighted the following:

  1. Membership was stable during the last year against a backdrop of many similar charities seeing declining membership numbers.
  2. Donations remain healthy at £24,000 although Covid has negatively impacted our corporate donations.
  3. Digital Sandgrouse now received by 140 members, with 40% of those receiving the digital version only, which saves on printing and mailing costs which enables more investment in our small grants programme.
  4. No financial issues.  Projected end of year balance expected to be approximately £70k.
  5. Acknowledgements. The Joint Treasurer thanked all members, donors, Corporate Sponsors, the Tides Foundation and Avifauna Tours in Sweden for their continued support. And a special mention to James Goodhart and Chris Spooner for significant donations. The Joint Treasurer also thanked Mike Jennings for his diligent auditing of the OSME accounts. Special thanks to John Warr as co-treasurer and Effie Warr for keeping the membership details up to date an providing all the information needed to ensure the accounts can be accurately produced.
  6. The accounts will be published on the UK Charity Commission website in accordance with UK government requirements, following adoption.

The Treasurer’s Report and the Accounts (which had been available on the OSME website) were formally voted on and adopted by the members present (via a Zoom poll) and will be passed to the Charity Commission.

Mike Jennings was formally approved by the members present to continue as Accounts Examiner (gratis) for the 2021 Accounts (unanimously via a Zoom poll)

  • Election of officers.

Tomas Haraldsson’s term came to an end, but he has been co-opted by Council and will continue as OSME’s as Youth Development Officer.

Nick Moran’s term also came to an end but has kindly offered to continue helping organising the technical aspects of future OSME meetings. The Chairman thanked Nick for his support and hard work over the last 10 years.

Ian Harrison was nominated as a council member by Nabegh Ghazal Asswad; this was seconded by Elaine Cowan and voted for unanimously by attendees.

  • Any other business.

Richard Porter: How can OSME diversify its membership/Council membership?

The Chairman thanked Richard for raising this important issue and stated OSME Council need to be more proactive in approaching people from across the region who have the right skills to help with OSME’s ever growing work. One example given was the Conservation Fund Committee that is made up of members from all parts of the OSME region. The Chairman also noted that online meetings have been an excellent way of engaging with more members from across the region and these will continue even once Covid restrictions ease in the future.

The Chairman thanked all members for attending the Annual General Meeting and the meeting was closed at 14.49 GMT