CovSoc AGM Goes Online

The Coventry Society held its first online AGM on Monday 12th October.  In the unusual circumstances of the Coronavirus pandemic we postponed our AGM in April. We had hoped to be holding our meeting live at our new home at the Old Grammar School but with the increase in Covid cases in the city and the age profile of our membership we decided to stay online.

At the AGM we confirmed our officers and committee members. Following the meeting the committee members are as follows:

  • Vincent Hammersley – Chair
  • Paul Maddocks – Deputy Chair
  • John Payne – Secretary
  • Colin Walker – Treasurer
  • Terry Kenny – Committee member
  • Jim Passmore – Committee member
  • Peter Walters – Committee member
  • Trevor Cornfoot – Committee member
  • Nicola Norman – Committee member
  • Peter Hunter – Committee member
  • Simon Hayes – Committee member

In addition to the elections the membership agreed to the criteria for designating Honorary and Life Members. The membership then nominated two of its members to be Life Members of the Society.

Keith Draper chaired the Coventry Society for 17 years and was primarily responsible for the re-founding of the society in 2004 after it has gone into a temporary decline. With the guidance of David Tittle and a few of the old guard like John Haslam, Ralph Butcher, Kath Edwards, Hazel Lynn and Paul Maddocks, Keith ensured that Coventry had an active civic amenity society once again. For the last ten years Keith had an active deputy in Colin Walker, who continues as our Treasurer.

Throughout this time Keith maintained a very popular monthly newsletter which ran for a total of 173 editions, almost all of them produced by Keith. Keith’s history of writing articles on local history for the Coventry Evening Telegraph must have come in handy for this.

Like many of the active people in the society, Keith was involved with a number of other societies in the city, including the Allesley Walled Garden Group, the Spon Street Traders, Spon End Building Preservation Trust and the Friends of the Coventry Transport Museum.

Keith has made a tremendous contribution to the Coventry Society over many years and we are pleased to appoint him as a life member.

Keith at his beloved Walled Garden – photo Coventry Telegraph

John Haslam was born and raised in the Manchester area. One of five children, his mum and dad ran one of his grandfather’s shops in Salford selling groceries, hand cut cheese and ham and selling loose tea and sugar.

John moved to Coventry in 1975 from Manchester working for Massey Ferguson tractors in their ordering and payment department.

John loves reading and especially history. The first organisation he joined in Coventry was CADAS the Coventry and District Archaeological Society and he was its Treasurer for about 25 years.

John is not sure which year it was that he joined the Coventry Civic Amenity Society, as it was then.   He had seen an Advert in the Coventry Evening Telegraph – Public Meeting at the Friends Meeting House guest speakers including Bill Wilson M.P. and others – ‘Urgently needing people who are interested in Coventry’s history’. Irene Shannon was Chair at that time, she was a great fighter for saving Coventry’s historic building and when Irene stepped down John became Chair of the society.

John was made redundant in 1987 from Massey Ferguson’s at the age of 56 having worked for them for 34 years.

He did voluntary work at the Cathedral’s welcome desk and got to study Coventry’s wonderful history and over time became a Coventry Green Badge Guide taking people around the city. He would often dress up in period costume for events and special days.

Paul Maddocks remembers that in the 1990’s the Transport Museum got him to dress up as a war time fireman for Heritage Open Days. He would stand in the Museum’s Coventry Blitz Experience exhibition which Paul had designed. He would stand very still in the bombed out street scene with the flashing light and the sound of the bombing and after it was finished he would suddenly come alive and speak to the people who were standing there open mouthed and this would make them all jump.

John likes organising coach trips to historic places around the country. He did 300 trips over the 20 years. It was always a popular event and he did not have to advertise as the same people would want to go each time. John would go to visit the place of interest days before to make sure he got his facts right and know just were everything was and what other interesting things were with in the area of interest to visit.

John has been on the committees of many other organisations as well as the Coventry Society, including the Industrial Archaeology Society, the Historic Society, Friends of Memorial Park and Friends of London Road Cemetery and many more. He said he used to have a meeting on almost every evening of the week.

In recent years, John has born the weight of serving teas and coffees at our meetings. That was in the days when we had real ones!

Next Birthday John will be 90 and he has been a great asset and a great ambassador for Coventry and the Coventry Society and truly deserves this Life membership award.

John Haslam in period costume

The Coventry Society is proud to appoint these two outstanding members as “Life Members” of the Society.

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