AGM 2016

Chairman’s Statement: The Boxford Masques AGM

9th November 2016

Dear friends, members, supporters and all Masqueteers!

This is the first AGM we have been able to hold since I became Chairman of our wonderful organisation on the 25th June 2015 and what a rollercoaster ride it has been since then! In fairness I would say not a huge big dipper but certainly more exhilarating and exciting than the tea cups ride at the fair.

The past 18 months have largely been characterised by fundraising as we challenged ourselves to raise the minimum £25k needed to put the show on. I say, challenged, although at times it felt like a near suicidal venture in the context of ‘austerity’ cuts, zero interest rates, West Berkshire Council financial holes to the tune of £17m and Brexit! (We love a challenge!)

In April we found ourselves miraculously only £9k short and making a frantic last appeal to close the gap within four weeks. In Masques land magic is possible! And duly we achieved something magnificent….and gathered another £6,000 in just four weeks. However, this left us with an agonisingly huge decision to make about the 2016 show. Common sense prevailed and duly the 2016 show was postponed to summer 2017 to allow more time for fundraising to get to what we identified was truly a minimum go ahead figure.

I remember the pain of thinking about a no go decision, but isn’t it funny how fate plays for you sometimes? Very quickly a number of key upsides to our postponement became very clear: not competing with the Olympics (remember the 2012 madness) or any European or World football cups; Welford park was struggling for availability for us in 2016 but wholeheartedly supportive with time for better planning for 2017; a museum exhibition leading up to our show, and most importantly more time to raise more money and feel truly comfortable delivering a show to the level people have come to expect of us.

In many ways, fundraising and spectacular events have characterised our recent history.     The first Barn Dance in October 2015 was a superb evening of fun and merriment, raising an astonishing £1500. Armed with this solid experience up our sleeves we have successfully made it an annual event and this year’s recent barn dance raised another astonishing £1000 on less than half the attendees! A testament to the superb organising qualities of our committee.


We have continued to receive significant and gratefully received individual donations and these are so important to us. We contacted 34 different grants and trust givers and had some successes, most significant of which is the ongoing support of match funding from Greenham Common. And it’s still live today for anyone looking to donate!

In addition, I was genuinely overwhelmed at the support to my solo walk around the coast path of Cornwall which raised £2,250, half of which came to the Masques. Or perhaps people were happy to pay someone else to get the inevitable blisters from ascending higher than Everest!

The biggest undertaking of course, was our Beer Festival. ‘Wow’ is the best word to summarise an event 3 months in detailed planning, birthing 10 separate beer festival organising committee meetings, defining an alliance with The Boxford Boars cricket club that was firstly critical for that event and secondly enjoyable, productive and will stand us in good stead in the future.

On a sunny July day, 400 people came, listened to excellent music from Reggae (who could forget DJ Dubstep Leader) to youth bands to youthful rockers. Even Raggy the Dog entertained the crowds with his singing! They came and they drank 20 different beers, ate a fine selection of locally reared meats on an excellent and long lasting BBQ. Many attempted to drink our full list of beverages….no mean feat since it covered, Ales, Stoust, IPA’s and real cider! They were mostly subsequently carried home, apart from one poor lady, who will remain nameless, but who certainly left her mark on the recreation ground!

We raised a staggering £5,500, split equally with The Boars, thank you all!

Most recently of course we had the VIP opening of The Boxford Masques Exhibition at West Berkshire Museum! What a star studded event it was with all the Masques glitterati and former chairmen in attendance, alongside various local super VIP’s including politicians with not one, but two chains of office present in one room! Massive thanks to our very own Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire Jimmy Puxley and the ever supportive Debby for cutting the ribbon. Our exhibition of Masques history is superb, really informative and fun; a real testament to the effort of Geraldine in preparing it. It runs until 23rd April so please tell everyone to go visit it.


In closing we must give thanks.

Thanks for the new people joining our committee and making such an excellent contribution: Ali as Secretary, Jules as Treasurer and Carl and Francesca. Thanks to all our donors and supporters who have made a go ahead decision on the next show possible!

And most of all these, the most massive thanks to our Organising committee members whose tireless efforts in fundraising, event organising, grant applications and a host of other jobs and tasks are so so valuable to The Masques.

You remind me that the diversity of capabilities, creativity, thoughts and actions, when harnessed to a common cause are truly unstoppable.

A perfect thought to reflect towards our show coming in July 2017!

Onwards and upwards,

Steve Wilson


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