Minutes of the 2023 Annual General Meeting

Post date: 02/11/2023

Draft minutes of the IBMT’s Annual General Meeting held in the Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Tees, 7 October 2023…

In attendance: Kate Armstrong, Mike Arnott, Ann Atkinson, Sharon Bailey, David Chanter, Paul Coles, Megan Dobney, Barrie Eckford, Pauline Fraser, Sheila Grey, Christopher Hall, Robert Hargreaves, Hilary Jones, Jim Jump, Sean Kettle, Denis Lenihan, Alan Lloyd, Dolores Long, Marshall Mateer, Moira Mateer, Lorrain McCartney, Sean McCartney, Robbie McDonald, Manuel Moreno, Helen Oclee-Brown, Frieda Park, Beth Richards, Alan Short, Marlene Sidaway, Dave Smith, Elaine Spybey, Paul Thompson, Natalie Thorpe, Stephanie Turner, Ernest Walker, Lynda Walker, Stuart Walsh, Paul Ward, Pete Widlinski.

1 Chair’s opening remarks

Jim Jump welcomed people to the 22nd AGM. Good to be back in the NE in a magnificent venue. Last time AGM was in the NE was in Durham 2009 when some Brigaders were still alive. Warm welcome given to new executive officer and editor, Helen Oclee-Brown, the great niece of a Brigader. Sharon Bailey and other Stockton comrades thanked for organising the AGM weekend.

Fraternal greetings: received from: Marx Memorial Library, Asociacion de Amigos de las Brigadas Internacionales, Madrid (AABI), Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, New York (ALBA), KFSR Germany, Brenda O’Riordan.

Apologies for absence: Richard Baxell, Terry Bayes, Margaret Bruton, Lisa Croft, Alex Gordan, Jonathan Havard, John Haywood, Duncan Longstaff, Jane McCarvel, Margaret McKenna, Pearce McKenna, Brenda O’Riordan, Luke O’Riordan, Richard Thorpe, Ian Trotter, Mike Wild.

2 Marlene Sidaway – Teesside & Spain: Delighted to be in Stockton as Marlene has strong personal connections. As an original founder of the IBMT in 2001 very proud of the success of the IBMT. Importance of regional groups in keeping alive the memories of local Brigaders and recruiting new members stressed. Stockton has proud record in fighting fascism and important to continue to demonstrate that fascism will not be tolerated.

3 Approval of minutes of 2022 AGM: Minutes approved.

4 Matters arising not already on agenda: None

5 Motion 1: Amendments to Constitution

Delete all items highlighted in bold:


(3) Members of the Executive Committee, excepting the President, shall be elected to serve a three-year term of office (excepting those covered by the provisions of sub paragraph G(4)) and shall retire at the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting at the end of their three-year term of office but will be entitled to stand for reelection.  

(4) At the 2019 Annual General Meeting the Chair, Secretary and Treasurer plus two members of the Executive Committee shall retire and there will be an election for four Executive Committee members. At the Annual General Meeting in 2020, four additional members of the Executive Committee (excluding those elected in 2019) shall retire and there will be an election for four Executive Committee members. Executive Committee members other than the Chair, Secretary and Treasurer shall retire in 2019 and 2020 in order of the number of votes received in the election at the 2018 Annual General Meeting, with those with the fewest votes retiring first; where two or more Executive Committee members received the same number of votes, their order of retiring shall be determined by lot. 

Renumber subsequent sub-clauses G(5), G(6), G(7) and G(8) accordingly.


(iii) is absent without the permission of the Executive Committee from all their meetings held within a period of six [replace by eight] months and the Executive Committee resolve that his or her office be vacated; or

The motion was carried nem con.

6 Executive Committee Annual Report: Very comprehensive report presented

Five regional groups have affiliated to IBMT (but not Stockton!). 

The schools educational resources project (for 11 to 14 year olds/key stage 3 pupils) now designed, digitised and available on website. A major achievement for the IBMT, the project was supervised by Professor Peter Anderson and teacher Alex Clifford. Lack of information on role of women in materials is being rectified. Article on the project will be published in The Historian.

Antifascistas exhibition has been digitalised and now on website and available for schools/colleges and other events. The original ‘hard copy’ of the exhibition is still available.

Film ‘The Brigaders Return!’ to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the Brigaders return to London’s Victoria Station will be shown at locations around UK/Ireland. (Aberdeen, Belfast, Dundee, Hull, London, Manchester, Oldham, Salford, Oxford and Teesside). The film lasts for 40 minutes. Marshall Mateer thanked for his hard work on producing a wonderful film.

Date for Jubilee Gardens commemoration 6 July.

‘Picasso in Sheffield’ project to commemorate the artist’s support for the 1952 World Peace Conference has made progress. A planning application is submitted for a site in Weston Park, Sheffield.

Raffle tickets can now be bought online.

No Pasaran magazine: Helen has taken on role of editor. Decision to be made on whether to keep or discontinue the printed copy. The magazine has always been much admired and appreciated as an extremely important advert for the IBMT.

Report from Ernest and Lynda on events. Speaker from German sister organisation KFSR had visited Belfast: a well-attended and very successful event. Ernest and Lynda had attended KFSR event in Germany. Return of the Brigaders! film to be shown. Lynda and Ernest congratulated on the tremendous work they do in Belfast and beyond. Their work has brought communities together and raised the profile of the IBMT in their area.

Annual Jarama event:Date for the trip not yet confirmed but possibly 17th or 24th February depending on when/if Jeremy Corbyn can attend. The focus of 2024’s event will be the British Battalion so a good turn out of people from UK is really important. The new memorial in Tarancon extremely successful. Visit to Tarancon on 23rd February 2024. 

AABI has been extremely helpful and supportive of descendants of volunteers seeking Spanish citizenship. 

The report was approved.

7 Finance Report, 2022-2023 accounts: Presented by Paul Coles. Drop in income generated by IBMT events due to Covid and the cost of living situation. Expenditure has increased.  Salary of Executive Admin Officer now accounts for 42% of expenditure – a reduction. Relationship with Red Molotov and Past Pixels has been useful and successful and means that stock does not have to be held in the (small) IBMT office. Also removes some of the burden of distributing merchandise. Current deficit of £2,000 but changes in distribution of magazine should result in a saving of £10,000 to £12,000 and therefore possibly breaking even. Helen is making a huge effort to contact lapsed members and chase arears and progress made on a membership database and encouraging people to use direct debit. Work on encouraging trade unions to affiliate continues. 

Sale of merchandise at trade union events, conferences and community events e.g. Burford, Durham needs to continue.

Moving money to a fixed account may be possible in the near future.

The IBMT has an older age base so important to work on recruitment of new members. 

Organising Gift Aid has been extremely successful in generating income.

Preparation of Christmas merchandise progressing.

Report approved and Paul thanked for his hard work and efficiency.

8 Election of two scrutineers: Paul Coles and Helen Oclee-Brown elected.

9 Election of 5 Executive Committee members: Nomineewere elected unopposed (David Chanter/John Haywood [jobshare], Paul Coles, Alex Gordon, Jonathan Havard).

10 Any Other Business: (previously notified)

  1. National Memorial Arboretum: Visit to NMA by Megan Dobney, Richard Baxell, Marlene Sidaway and Quentin Kopp (Orwell Society) in August. Three important issues need to be addressed before a final decision can be made: 1. the principle 2. if agreed, finance 3. site/appearance/wording. 

A lively, friendly discussion. Main points raised: wording on memorial would need to be acceptable to the IBMT, previous objections by some Brigaders to a memorial at the NMA, lack of support from the government to Brigaders and the Spanish Republic so why a national memorial?, need to include the contribution of the Spanish people. 

The IBMT’s goal is to keep alive the memory of the International Brigades, potential of a memorial to raise profile/membership of the IBMT, NMA gets 300,000 visitors a year, including many school parties therefore useful potential to educate public and students through an IBMT QR code. 

Vote taken on allowing the EC to explore the possibility of supporting the proposal at the next EC meeting (13 January 2024). Vote taken: 20 in favour, 9 against, 1 abstention.

  1. Motion 2: AGM venue: (Pauline Fraser) 

When the IBMT was set up, it was agreed that the AGM should be hosted by a different town or city in the British Isles every year.

This AGM recognises that there has been a steep rise in prices for accommodation and travel, on top of the price hikes for basic living expenses. This impacts most on those least able to pay and may exclude IBMT members who would like to attend the AGM but who find the cost prohibitive. 

This AGM therefore instructs the IBMT Officers and Committee to investigate the feasibility of making the Annual General Meeting a hybrid event and circulate their recommendations to the membership, such that hybrid meetings can be set up as from AGM 2024.

Comments included: Cost of transport and accommodation to attend AGMs is increasingly expensive and results in some people being excluded. Hybrid AGM meetings (Zoom + face-to-face) would allow greater inclusion. Hybrid meetings increasingly used successfully by other organisations. 

However, there can be technical difficulties, some people have no access to a computer/wifi, can be difficult to make meetings work efficiently, organising on-line voting can be difficult. 

Vote taken on asking EC to investigate possibility and practicality of hybrid AGM meetings . Result: 22 for, 4 against, 3 abstentions.

  1. Memorial for Thomas Duncombe/Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire (Stuart Walsh). A memorial (a tree and plaque) to volunteer Thomas Duncombe was originally unveiled in November 1998. The tree still exists but the plaque is missing. Stuart Walsh is in touch with Stuart Butler, one of the original organisers of the plaque, and they are hoping to place a new plaque in time for a visit by the National Clarion Club’s Easter meeting in Gloucester in 2024.
  2. Using contemporary Spanish current affairs, events and culture to reach wider audiences: (Robbie McDonald)Important for the IBMT to reach out to new and younger audiences. Suggestions for reaching out to new audiences and engaging with the general public could be done through more emphasis on making a link between the past and contemporary issues e.g. sport, women, current Spanish politics, literature. Could be done through partnerships with universities, book publishers, think tanks and art/cultural organisations. This would not be a replacement of the IBMT’s current work but as an addition to the IBMT’s core historic work. 

11 Date and place of 2024 AGM: No venue or date suggested so far. EC to explore. AGMs in different parts of the country useful in promoting the IBMT.  

12 Scrutineers’ report of election results: N/A

13 Chair’s closing remarks: A very good AGM with an opportunity for participation by attendees, and an excellent weekend of events. Meeting finished with Marlene Sidaway reading of a poem written by volunteer David Marshall, Marlene’s late partner.

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