Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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Report of RSHG’s AGM

RSHG AGM October 2008
RSHG AGM October 2008

Our AGM on October 11 was attended by 30 Members and 14 visitors, apologies had been received from a further 8 members.

David opened the meeting and welcomed everyone.

Annual Report by Janette Gregson, Chairman:
Dec 2007- installation of the RSHG plaque on the display case;
Jan 2008 – Members meeting – presentation by David Earle on Oakfield CE School;
Nature group participated in the RSPB Garden Birdwatch;
Mar 2008 – Nature pages of website updated and monthly Nature Diary feature introduced;
Apr 2008 – RSHG representative invited on to the board of the IW Council’s Ryde Cemetery Restoration project;
April Members’ meeting with a presentation by Fred Caws on Ryde’s Water Supply;
May 2008 – New interpretation panel in the display case in Ryde Cemetery unveiled;
the Mapping team completed mapping the Old Parish and Old Cemeteries;
June 2008 – Book Launch and Project Celebration evening – a great success! After the evening we donated 400 copies of the book to all the Island Schools, Libraries, Local history groups, etc. and to every member group of the National Federation of Cemetery Friends (NFCF);
Rachael and Janette attended the NFCF AGM at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park in London the week after the book launch;
Jul 2008 – Open Day in Ryde Cemetery as part of Ryde Arts Festival week and in support of the Restoration Project. This was a joint collaboration between the FORC, Bereavement Services and RSHG and was a great success;
July members’ meeting and Roger Whitby-Smith gave a presentation on early Ryde;
after the Open Day in Ryde Cemetery, we moved the displays from the cemetery into St Thomas Church (Heritage Centre) for the rest of the week, and for the first time in years the Church was open to the public (manned by RSHG volunteers);
Sept 2008 – Two Heritage Open Days in Ryde Cemetery in support of the Ryde Cemetery Restoration project – a great two days and some of us dressed in Victorian Costumes to add ‘flavour’ to the event;
St Thomas Heritage Centre was open again for the Heritage Open Days and for much of that time was manned by RSHG volunteers;
Aug 2008 – Completion report sent to HLF with evidence of the achievements of the project Ryde’s Heritage, Our Town, Your Histories and we have received a letter from HLF saying how pleased they are with the results of the project.
Oct 2008 – and another AGM – Janette thanked all the members for their support of the last year and particularly all those who volunteer their time.

Ryde Cemetery Restoration Project.

Janette gave an update on progress with the Restoration Project
• Most of the approvals for the building works have been received and the specification is about to go out to tender. It is hoped that major works will begin early next year.
• Educational projects have already started and schools have been working in the cemetery throughout the summer. Training for adults has begun and details will be posted on this website as and when it becomes available.
• Janette has been working with and Kathie Gibbs, who is representing the Friends of Ryde Cemetery Group, on ideas for a Heritage Trail in Ryde Cemetery.


The finance report showed that the group has sufficient funds to keep going for another year without too much difficulty, however members who have internet access have been asked to receive meeting reminders, agendas, minutes, newsletters, etc by email to reduce the cost of paper, printing and postage in future. This was agreed by those present at the AGM


David reported at the time of the AGM the group had 67 members, as 4 new members had joined in the previous quarter, and Kate McDonnell has volunteered to take over as Membership Secretary following David’s resignation from the post.

Election of Committee

David advised that the only nominations received were as follows:
Chairman – Janette Gregson
Secretary – Diana Wood
Treasurer – Matthew Bell
Membership Secretary – Kate McDonnell
Committee Members – Ann Barrett
– Carol Strong
– Rachael Mead
The appointments were proposed by Tony Gale, seconded by Peter Campbell and carried unanimously.

Work Group Reports

Ann Barrett – Research – The Research Group continues to search through a variety of records to add detail to the records on the website. In the past year 678 records have been added to, many have had names and/or dates corrected and the Looking Back Feature of the website has been kept up to date by the Research Group. Ann made a plea for more help with the research and requested that if anyone can spare some time to go to the Record Office to make contact with her.

David Earle – Mapping – David confirmed that he has resigned from the post of Mapping Group Leader however the maps and Alpha indexes for the Old Parish and the Old Cemetery have been completed (apart from any amendments/alterations that may be fed back by the Transcribing and/or Research Group). David and Al Blenkinsop have discussed a revised method of mapping and we hope to continue mapping into the New Cemetery.

Janette Gregson – Transcribing – The transcribing group continues to meet every Saturday morning, weather permitting, and at the time of the AGM had recorded and uploaded to the website transcriptions from the graves of almost 5,500 individuals. The work is slow but steady and Janette advised that for the time being no new transcribers are required.

Carol Strong – Publications – Carol advised that much of the time during the first 6 months of the year was devoted to getting the book ready for publishing. In addition the small team had produced 4 6 page newsletters and produced additional materials in the form of folders and display sheets for exhibitions and open days. The group has also been working closely with Ryde Arts Festival and the IW Council on organising events for St Thomas Heritage Centre in Ryde. Carol said the publications team is looking for new members. Anyone with an interest in writing or producing display material is welcome. No previous experience necessary, we are all learning still.

Carol Strong – Family History – Carol advised that to date no member has come forward to lead this group. We held a very successful introduction to Family History workshop a couple of years ago and feel sure this is an area of interest to many members so if anyone would like another workshop please contact Carol. We together with the Research Group have helped many people from all over the world with their family history research connected to Ryde.

Carol Strong – Natural History – No member has come forward to lead this group but we have still managed to pull together a small team of enthusiastic amateurs with an interest in the nature to be found in the cemetery. Monthly nature walks are held and the results of our findings are published in the Nature Diary on the website. On 24 – 25 January 2009 we will be participating in the RSPB Garden Birdwatch again. Anyone interested in joining in the monthly nature walks or RSPB Birdwatch or any other aspect of recording the flora and fauna to be found in Ryde Cemetery please contact Carol.

After the business of the meeting was concluded Peter Clarke gave a really interesting talk on Catholicism in Victorian Ryde.