Minutes of the 45th Annual General Meeting, held online by Zoom, on Saturday 18th November 2023

OSME Chairman Dr. Rob Sheldon opened the meeting at 10:03

Members present:

Ahmad Aidek, Arya Shafaeipour, Arya Shafaeipour, Chris Hughes, Colin Richardson, Doug Radford, Enid Burman, Fares Khoury, Ian Harrison, John Warr, Marko Halonen, Mike Reed, Mitra Daneshvar, Murray Brown, Nabegh Ghazal Asswad, Nick Moran, Philip Roberts, Richard Hoath, Richard Porter, Rob Sheldon, Robert Edgar, Robert Quested, Ross Mackenzie, Simon Awad, Simon Tull, Stephen Menzie, Su Gough, Tomas Axen Haraldsson

1. Apologies for absence.

  • The following members had sent their apologies for their absence in advance: Chris S. Balchin, Steve Coney, Deborah Newman, and Alexander Shcherbyna.

2. Minutes of the 44th OSME Annual General Meeting (26th November 2022)

  • The draft minutes were available on the website and a link was sent via email to members

3. Matters arising

  • There were no matters arising. A Zoom poll was held, and 17 members voted in favour of accepting the minutes (and 4 abstentions).

4. Chairman’s report for 2022.

  • The Chairman highlighted the Conservation fund grants: 9 awarded across 7 countries, including Turkmenistan for the first time. In total £23,680.  To date, all countries except Qatar have received a grant from the Conservation Fund. In total £201,335 has been since this grant was launched.
  • Trevor Poyser Species Conservation Fund was awarded for a project titled ”the protection of Saker Falcon and Egyptian Vulture in the Karatau Mountains, South Kazakhstan.”
  • The Chairman thanked the Conservation Fund committee for reviewing project applications and making recommendations to the Council.
  • During 2022 the Youth Development Fund supported 9 projects in 6 countries for £21,775. Over 200 young people and students have participated in the various projects.
  • The combined expenditure across all three small grants programmes was an incredible £50,345 for the year.
  • At the Global Birdfair in July, a partnership was announced with leading optics supplier Opticron, who agreed to support our Youth Development Fund by providing quality telescopes and binoculars for our bird camps and other events.
  • The Chairman praised our journal Sandgrouse for yet another great year which included two special issues: on Great Bustard and on Socotra.
  • OSME participated in the Global Birdfair and Falsterbo (Swedish Bird Fair)
  • Our communication work continued to grow. Our Facebook page has more than 4,900 followers (with Egypt and the UK being the top two countries). There were twelve guest blogs on the OSME website, with contributions from across the OSME region. Richard Porter was thanked for coordinating these. The OSME e-newsletter has almost 500 subscribers and three issues were published. Two online meetings were well attended, and seven of the eight contributions were from the OSME region.

5. Treasurer’s report.

  • Chris Hughes (co-Treasurer) highlighted another year of falling membership (down 6 % from the previous year).
  • However, donations increased to a record £38,000.
  • 47 % of members get digital Sandgrouse. Mail costs are going higher, digital SG helps cutting costs.
  • Administration costs fell again to the lowest ever at £2,000.
  • Year-end balance £78,000. The upcoming year (2023) is even better, thanks to a significant legacy from long-term OSME supporter James Goodhart. The projected balance is close to £200,000.
  • Chris thanked all donors and members for their continued support. Mike Jennings was thanked for examining the accounts (gratis) and John Warr (co-Treasurer) for the day to day running of the finances.
  • There were no questions from the audience. 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 (unanimously via a Zoom poll) and will be passed to the Charity Commission

6. Appointment of Accounts Examiner for 2023

  • Mike Jennings was formally approved by the members present to continue as Accounts Examiner (gratis) for the 2023 Accounts (19 members voted in favour via a Zoom poll (one abstention)).

7. Constitution changes.

  • Minor changes to the OSME Constitution were outlined by Chris Hughes, as follows:

a) Life membership removed. Existing life memberships will be honoured.

b) Unpaid members removed after 4 months.

c) Trustees can stay as long as they are approved by members. No upper limits of years.

d) Reference to Conservation and Research Fund replaced by Grants program.

e) Approval of cheques removed as they are no longer used.

f) Clause about premises deleted.

  • The changes were voted on as a package, with 19 members in favour and 3 abstentions. The revised Constitution will be added to the OSME website and also sent to the Charity Commission.

8. Election of new officers.

  • Re-election of Rob Sheldon (Chairman) and Chris Hughes (co-Treasurer) to continue in their respective roles. Simon Awad, Su Gough, Phil Roberts (previously co-opted), Simon Tull to be newly elected.
  • Simon Awad, Su Gough, Phil Roberts and Simon Tull gave short introductory speeches.
  • Simon Awad was proposed by Fares Khoury, all others proposed by Nick Moran.
  • All were accepted by a vote by a Zoom poll.

9. Any other business.

  • Nick Moran raised the question to what extent BirdFair is used for recruitment. The Chairman replied that recruitment of new members had been poor and the key reason for attending the Birdfair in the future will be to meet members and supporters, as well as highlight the great work of OSME.
  • Doug Radford asked about how he could get more involved with the various Bird Camps. The Chairman suggested he contact Tomas Haraldson, OSME’s Youth Development Officer.
  • The Chairman introduced a question raised by email prior to the AGM “how does OSME intend to increase the amount of council members from within the region.” This is a key area that OSME Council are actively working on, but it has been difficult to get people to join Council. However, people from across the region actively supporting the work of OSME, for example all the members of the Conservation Committee are from the region. There is significant support from members across the region on Facebook and through guest blogs. During this AGM Simon Awad (Palestine) has been elected to Council and hopefully there will be more members come forward in the future.

10. Close of meeting.

  • The Chairman reminded attendees about the Winter Meeting on 9th December.
  • The Chairman closed the AGM at 11:08 UK time.