The Annual General Meeting of the Retired Teachers Association (N E Branch) took place in Portstewart Golf Club on Thursday 22 September.
Mrs Moira Gribbon (chairman) welcomed all present, extending a special welcome to Mr Des Rawlings, Chairman of the Central Executive Committee and conveying through him the good wishes of the Branch to his wife who has been suffering from ill health recently. Mrs Gribbon also warmly welcomed Mrs Lesley Macauley who would be speaking on community relations and conflict resolution in our province.
She then called on Mrs Lucy Alcorn (Secretary) to read the minutes of the previous AGM which were agreed and signed. This was followed by the secretary’s report of events organised by the branch during the year. This involved the previous year’s AGM; an enjoyable Christmas Lunch at the Lodge Hotel with entertainment provided by the choir of the Christie Memorial Primary School, and the Spring outing, this year to Carrickfergus, taking in a tour of the eight hundred year old St Nicholas’ Church, a delightful lunch at the Clarion Hotel and an entertaining visit to the Castle and home in time for tea.
Mrs Moyra Martin, having thanked Mr Andy McFetridge for auditing the accounts, then presented the Treasurer’s Report. Thanks to the generosity of the Central Executive the Branch’s finances were in a healthy state.
Mr Des Rawlings took command of the election of officers for the incoming year. This resulted as follows. Chairman: M Gribbon. Vice-chairman: D Lynn. Secretary: L Alcorn. Treasurer: M Martin. Membership Secretary: M Gribbon. N E Representative on C E C: D McIlmoyle. Hon. Auditor: A McFetridge. Committee: A Campbell. M Fall. E Smythe. T McIvor. J Nesbitt. R Strong.
Mr Rawlings then pointed out that in the present time of recession teachers who had retired before the recent cut backs should consider themselves very lucky. He told the members that a year or so ago around eight hundred teachers retired but this year there were only about two hundred. This was due to the virtual disappearance of the option of early retirement since anyone going early now was faced with a substantial cut in their pension. He felt the N E Branch was gratifyingly active but worried that some other branches might close if people were not willing to come forward as officers.
Mrs Lesley Macauley spoke with obvious commitment about the consultancy she set up with a view to helping people deal with the past. She told of her upbringing in Bellaghy during the troubles and described it as a grey dark place as indeed were many towns at the time. She told how her cousin, a reserve policeman, had been shot. As a child she kept asking questions and as she grew this desire to ask questions led her to work with victims of the troubles as well as the perpetrators. She was still asking questions: How do we see others who are different to us and how fair are we to these people? She ended by saying she is searching for an action plan for change and the only thing stopping this is lack of vision and imagination.
Mrs Gribbon thanked Mrs Macauley for her most interesting talk and presented her with a token of the branch’s appreciation. Afternoon tea was served and the members settled down to a good chat with colleagues before proceeding homewards.