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2011 AGM Minutes

Summary minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the Spring Grove Morris Men held on Thursday September 22nd in St John’s Church, Kingston at 8.15pm.




Steve Nash                

Colin Messer                          

David Seager                         

Tony Bryant

Alan Bulll

Ian Kirkpatrick

Jacob Daley

Laurie South

Gerry McCann

Sue Benson

John Curwood

Robert Muller


Apologies for absence


Ben Izard, Jim Beard



1.                     Items for consideration for Any Other Business


Fixtures, including ring meetings, Queen’s jubilee, Olympics - a survey will take place.

Sticks - we have sufficient

Dancing programme - also to be addressed by the survey.


2.                     Minutes of the last AGM (October 2010)


The minutes of the joint Spring Grove Morris Men/Off-Spring Morris Annual General Meeting were approved as an accurate record where the matters related to Spring Grove Morris Men.


3.                     Matters arising


There were no matters arising.


4.                     Reports and Accounts


The meeting was presented with reports from the Squire, Foreman, Bagman and Treasurer as per the attachments 1, 2, 3 and 4.


It was recognized that the accounts presented had to be summary figures as the information passed through by the previous treasurer required further work on the detail.  Following certain queries it was agreed that direct charity payments would be entered as an additional item.  A further set of accounts would be produced in due course and circulated to members.


It was noted that the re-allocation of paid events between Off-Spring and Spring Grove had resulted insufficient funds being available to meet financial commitments.


5.                     The future of Spring Grove Morris Men


The Squire read a short statement (attachment 5) outlining the history of the side.  He then asked for the members to vote on the motion – “Do you want the Spring Grove Morris Men to continue as an independent side”.


This was unanimously approved by members.


The Squire then read a longer statement (attachment 6) tracing the history of Spring Grove, the commencement of Off-Spring Morris and the progress made by the two sides over the last eleven years.  Developing problems were identified – the exclusion of women dancers from SGMM, the impact on SGMM of a change of name to the mixed side, variations between websites, allocation of events between the two sides and the number and role of officers.


The Squire confirmed that the current Morris Ring rules excluded women dancers from ring sides but when this was relaxed women would be invited to join and dance with SGMM. It was agreed that members would be polled on whether representations should be made to the morris ring to relax their rules on women dancers.


The Squire told the meeting that discussions on the website, side names, allocation of events and the number of officers would follow a statement from the Foreman.  This statement offered a solution to the developing problems.


The Foreman presented his statement (attachment7) that proposed disbanding the mixed side forming of a new women’s side who would determine their name, dancing kit, dancing style etc.   The advantage of such a move would facilitate the continued dancing together of men and women and the use of one website to open two portals into the SGMM and the new women’s side.  Joint practices would still continue, and officers of the two sides would work together on the allocation of events, financial arrangements and the commonality of officers.







A full and detailed discussion took place amongst the members and the main points raised were:-


Why there couldn’t continue to be a mixed side

Problems with unbalanced sides

Number and role of officers


The perceived problems with the current set-up of the two sides were noted by some members as the main reason to make a change.  Problems had developed between the two sides over finance, kit, names, event allocation and the exclusion of women dancers and to a greater or lesser extent would be ongoing if the present arrangements were continued.


Other members were less convinced that these problems could not be solved.  One or two members questioned their continued involvement if Off-Spring was discontinued and one member wondered whether the division into men and women’s sides would still cause unrest with some members.  One member thought the change proposed would be accepted by the female members of Off-Spring.


Discussion took place on the implications of different membership numbers for the two sides.  There had so far been enough women to form a functioning dancing set in their own right only once, though this was hoped to be changed by the expected new recruits in the coming weeks.  Members were reassured by the Squire of SGMM that there would be no change to the involvement of women dancers for future programmes especially as events were to be divided fairly between the two sides.


A need was identified for separate squires and bagmen, and that there could be commonality of foreman and treasurer roles.


The development of a joint website for any new arrangement was seen as a positive step.  The SGMM would be happy to facilitate access to the website for a women’s side with a clearly distinct or gender identifiable name, but not for a mixed side that chose a similar name.


Further discussion ensued and one member proposed a vote on the recommendation to Off-Spring to form a women’s side.  This was carried by 6 votes to 4 with 2 members abstaining.


A second vote was taken on whether the current arrangement with Off-Spring should be continued and this was defeated by 5 votes to 4 with 3 abstaining.


The meeting was then concluded with a brief discussion of fixtures and dancing programmes and the Squire suggested a members’ survey take place to cover the detail not discussed in full at the AGM.  This would also confirm that the current officers wished to continue and were seen as fit to continue in their posts.  It was also agreed that each person attending the Yateley Day of Dance would be subsidised £10 from the bag.  The meeting closed at 10.15pm.


Spring Grove Morris Men


Attachment 1

Squires Report 2011




Following the AGM in 2010, I distributed tasks and responsibilities to each member of Spring Grove Morris Men.  This was very successful and I would like to thank those members that have put in great effort over the year to ensure that the season went well.


We gained two new members, Jacob and Laurie, and the side is richer for their membership.


The introduction of badges after a 25 year gap was very successful and we will look to expand our commercial ventures in 2012.  I would particularly like to thank Colin for the wonderful development of the SGMM website.


To avoid repetition, Colin Messer will cover the 2011 dancing and practice programme.


I’m pleased to say the side was solvent in 2011 and David Seager will shortly present the latest accounts.


Thank you for your support over the year.



Steve Nash

Squire – Spring Grove Morris Men


22nd September 2011







Spring Grove Morris Men

and Off-Spring Morris

Attachment 2

Foreman's Report 2011




By the end of the practice season I was extremely gratified that we had achieved a good standard in a broad range of dances, and particularly in the requested Fieldtown and Headington.  We have welcomed as full members:  Andrea, Ben, Jacob, and John who have danced and played in to the sides.  The Manx sword was danced out successfully.  My thanks to Alan, Gerry, Jim, Sue and Tony all of whom played for practice and without whom we would have no practice, and to David who I relied on for help and advice both on the dances and on maintaining the style.


At the last AGM we agreed:


-       Focus on Fieldtown and Headington

-       A Headington jig

-       Introduce the Skirmish figure

-       Show dances of Fieldtown - Signposts and Bidford - Young Collins


We worked on slows-free Fieldtown dances and for a second year looked at the long Fieldtown dance Step-back.  Added Headington 29th May and the Headington Jig Shepherds Hey.  Most interesting was adding the Skirmish chorus to Fieldtown as “Skirmish” and to Bidford as “The Recruiting Sergeant”.



So, what went well, and what can we do better.


Overall attendance at practice fell to 66%, down from 75%.  This was due to Theresa and Ian’s being on long term leave for the whole of the practise season.  Take out those two and attendance improved to 79%, so for the fourth year running we to continue to make better use of practice time.  However it was noticeable that those who aren’t aiming for the 8 o’clock start are more likely to be ready to dance nearer 9 o’clock than the half-past eight practice start time.  The Foreman, assistant Foreman and musicians prepare, and make the effort to be on time so that your time at practice is productive, and if it takes 15 minutes to change, chat and put your practise head on, please allow for that in your timing.


Bidford continues to improve with The Recruiting Sergeant adding new life to the tradition, and our most consistently good dance of the year was Young Collins which was also the stick show dance.  Headington was a delight; the Shepherds’ Hey jig looked good and the 29th May would have pleased HQMD themselves.  Fieldtown improved grudgingly, the exception being Signposts, the hanky show dance, which received more attention and could be performed to a high standard.  Why the work spent on Signposts failed to transfer through to the other Fieldtown dances is beyond me.  Galleys still provide ample amusement to our fellow sides, and a continuing embarrassment to me.


The new spring steel swords improved the look of The Manx Sword Dance. The dance was adapted to allow 5, 6, 7 or 8 to dance it, which meant that it was always possible to practise and everyone who wanted to dance could find a place in the set.  One of my highlights of the year was dancing the Manx in Kingston’s Ancient Market and the gasp from the audience as the eight sword lock was held up.


Dancing out his year showed a marked difference between what was practiced and what was called with Jigs, Fieldtown, Headington and the sword rarely danced.  At the end of the practice season I produce a list of dances we practiced to performance standard, of these we perform around a third; essentially the dances that are simpler and that we know the best.  If we are to grow as performance side then have confidence to step out of the comfort zone and when the Squire asks for a side, step-up.


Colin Messer
Foreman – Spring Grove Morris Men and Off-Spring Morris

30 August 2011


Spring Grove Morris Men

Attachment 3

Bagman’s Report for 2011




This year we celebrated the centenary of the revival of morris dancing in Kingston at the coronation of King George V and continued to benefit from a increasing interest in Morris Dancing with some interesting bookings.  We are fortunate that the turnout for SGMM events is usually very good so the events are enjoyable and successful.  We have some beautifully prepared sticks tastefully decorated in green and yellow thanks to Ben and John.  Morris the Pig has graced us with his presence thanks to Laurie, who also designed and obtained a number of badges that are decorative, excellent publicity and generate income.




We started the year with two Morris Try-out sessions that attracted 12 prospective dancers, 6 of whom were men and of these Jacob and Laurie danced out.  This year there are 19 registered prospects of whom 3 are men, so please make them welcome.


AGM commitments and consequences.


At the AGM I undertook to process all invitations received as follows:

  1. Fulfil the invitation as SGMM,
  2. Invite another side to join us to jointly fulfil the invitation,
  3. Decline the invitation.

I also committed to maintaining the event distribution between men only and mixed as being broadly the same in 2011 as in 2010.  This was achieved by inviting OSM to all events with the exception of the few SGMM events and marking the owner of the event on the spreadsheet as “ALL” instead of “SGMM” or “OSM”.

By early May it became clear that apart from one OSM event at an old folks home and a few “SGMM” the vast majority were “ALL” and this approach was challenged.  To avoid conflict I changed owner label from “ALL” to “OSM”, passed responsibility for these events to OSM’s secretary, and passed all new invitations to OSM’s secretary, accepting a role as an email forwarding rule.  Since early May all invitations have been processed by OSM’s secretary and there have been no new SGMM events for 2011, and no SGMM events are planned for 2012.  Clearly continuing this practice is unsustainable.




17 men kitted up 8 times during 2011, and The Midsummer Morris brought a remarkable 20 Spring Grovers past and present together for an excellent event.

SGMM danced at three events: Kempton Park’s English Day, Walton-on-Thames May Day, Kingston’s May Merrie, and three times with other sides: Ewell St Mary, Thames Valley and Yateley.  We also hosted our own evening, the Midsummer Morris, and kitted up for a Bidford to maintain the unbroken tradition of Spring Grove dancing on May Day at dawn on Box Hill.

We had planned to attend a Ring Meeting but decided to instead support OSM’s wish to dance at the Eastbourne Lamas Festival.  I hope that for next year we will again consider a Ring Meeting and this time chose to attend.


Meetings of the Morris Ring in 2012


25-27 May Chipping Campden Cotswold Olympic Morris Ring Meeting
  8-10 June Thaxted Morris Ring Meeting
13-15 July Letchworth Centenary Morris Ring Meeting
31 Aug – 2 Sep Hartley 60th Anniversary Morris Ring Meeting 


Invitations and Diversions for 2012 sent as a broadcast to the Morris community


Hugh the Drover (Vaughan Williams) Hampstead Garden Opera in Highgate Nov, Fri 11th. 7.45 and Sat 19th 2.45 and 7.45

Caterham Street Fair Sunday 3rd June (to local sides)

Long Ditton Fair Sunday 8th July (to SGMM)

Olympics: all boroughs are encouraged to hold Olympics themed events we may wish to seek out Kingston’s celebrations.  The nearest stop-off point for the Torch is Guildford who will hold an Olympic Torch evening celebration on Friday 20 July 2012. (from JMO)

Two pubs looking for sides to visit them: The Queen’s Oak at Finchampstead and Frog & Wicket at Rotherwick.


Key website and email metrics


The website’s design and content continues to garner favourable reports, event organisers almost always describe the website as having contributed to their decision to invite us.

  • Unique visitors and page views are 10% higher than last year’s counts with around 2,000 (2171) Unique visitors and 6,000 (6029) Page views
  • Invitations are 30% up over than last year with 82 invitations, benefiting from May Day (6) and St George’s Day (3) being at the weekend and the Royal Wedding (5).

Direct from the website contact form there were 27 invitations, up from 19 last year and two membership enquiries, up from 1 one last year,  though email continues to be the predominant first contact method.  Web and email invitation added together gives:

-          80 invitations to events

-          2 television shows

-          2 membership enquiries


Colin Messer
Bagman and Webman, Spring Grove Morris Men


Spring Grove Morris Men


Attachment 4

Treasurer’s Report



The David Seager reported that the mess left behind by Christine Fawcett, whose timely exit due to a stroke left us without a treasurer until David took over, would take a little longer to resolve.  The treasurer’s report would be submitted at a later date.


Spring Grove Morris Men


Attachment 5

Squire’s Initial Statement




The Spring Grove Morris Men were formed in September 1977 following a charity event in the Spring Grove area of Kingston.  The side went from strength to strength for a number of years but like all sides there were fluctuations in membership numbers over the 22 years to 1999.


The side was elected to the Morris Ring in 1984 and has proudly remained a member ever since.


In 1999, membership numbers were reducing following the departure of key members of the side through relocation and injury.  There were sufficient men left to raise a side but dancing opportunities were increasingly dependent on availability of all the members.


It was decided to set up a parallel mixed side of men and women to compliment SGMM and ensure that a full dancing programme could be maintained in 2000.  The strategy was a success as some women were successfully recruited.  At the same time more men than women joined the side and numbers flourished.  The membership of Spring Grove Morris Men has regularly increased over the last ten years.


The last 34 years have been a wonderful time for morris dancing in Kingston and we have become part of the town’s folklore. 


Before we go any further with the meeting I would ask you all to vote on whether you want the great tradition of the Spring Grove Morris Men to continue as an independent side.










Spring Grove Morris Men


Attachment 6

Squire’s statement




To Spring Grove Morris Men members


I am now going to make a statement followed by a further statement from Colin.  Debate and questions will take place after both statements have been made in their entirety.



The Spring Grove Morris Men were formed in September 1977 following a charity event in the Spring Grove area of Kingston.  The side went from strength to strength for a number of years but like all sides there were fluctuations in membership numbers over the 22 years to 1999.


The sides dancing skills improved to such a high level that it was admitted to the Morris Ring in 1984 and has remained a proud member ever since. There are over 200 Ring members in the UK and Europe with the furthest flung in Australia, Canada and America.


In 1999, membership numbers were reducing following the departure of key members of the side through relocation and injury.  There were sufficient men left to raise a side but dancing opportunities would be limited due to availability of the members.


It was decided to set up a parallel mixed side of men and women to compliment SGMM and ensure that a full dancing programme could be maintained in 2000.  The strategy was a success as some women were successfully recruited.  At the same time more men than women joined the side and numbers flourished.  The membership of Off-Spring Morris over the last ten years has been approximately two-thirds men to one third women.


The women chose the name Off-Spring Morris and determined the type and colour of kit to be worn by the new side.


Until 2008 the two sides danced in harmony with SGMM performing up to six times a year and Off-Spring Morris twenty times.  We were particularly proud of the smooth parallel running of the two sides as we were the only side out of the 1000 or so registered that operated this system.


An informal arrangement was amicably agreed between the two sides to ensure that SGMM had enough income to support their Ring membership and insurance costs.


Difficulties arose in 2008 following new officer appointments over the transfer of money and the Off-Spring Morris kit and after a difficult two years the matters were resolved by a further change of officers and the adoption of SGMM style baldrics for Off-Spring Morris and changes to the constitution of both sides which facilitated the transfer of monies.  At the same time subscriptions were introduced.


The two sides in 2010 were in a very strong position with good membership numbers and an excellent band of musicians.  Everybody was enjoying the performances and attendance at practices was higher than at any time in the last 34 years and there was a good rapport between the members.


Unfortunately, against this positive background, there seems to have been a slow but relentless negative spin against SGMM by some Off-Spring Morris members.  In 2011 this seems to have gained more momentum culminating in a pre-agm Off-Spring Morris meeting.


The main concerns raised at that meeting seem to be:


1.         The exclusion of women dancers from SGMM

2.         The name of the mixed side

3.         The variations between the two websites

4.         The allocation of events between the two sides

5.         The number of officers



1.    Exclusion of women dancers from SGMM


SGMM are members of the Morris Ring whose rules stipulate that ring sides are men only. This rule has relaxed in recent times to include female musicians and when it is further relaxed to include women dancers they will be invited to dance with SGMM.


We believe that there is something different about men’s morris when compared with women’s and mixed morris, and that it is a difference with characteristics that are understood by the public, that we like and that are worth maintaining.




2.    The name of the mixed side


There is no problem in principle to a name change for Off-Spring Morris though there would be cost implications for changes to baldrics.

SGMM are opposed to any name change that would cause any confusion between the men’s side and the mixed side.


3.    Variations between the two websites


SGMM pursued a positive policy over the last two and half years of developing their website and this has been an outstanding success.  At the same time there has been no work undertaken on the Off-Spring Morris site and even the events calendar has not been maintained.  There is no reason why the Off-Spring Morris website cannot be updated in a similar way to the SGMM site.


4.    Allocation of events


Nearly all invitations are received through the SGMM website or e-mail.  If the Off-Spring Morris website was developed then more invites would be received.



We do have a solution to put forward covering the names, websites and allocation of events which Colin will now describe.  After his statement the floor will be thrown open to discussion.


Steve Nash Squire SGMM


Spring Grove Morris Men

 Attachment 7

Women’s side and Men’s side Proposal


AGM11 Proposal - A Co-operative framework of a Woman’s side and a Men’s side



Establish a framework of a Women’s side and a Men’s side who work together cooperatively.  This framework will end the confusion and perceived inequality in the current mixed side and men’s side’s relationship.



Over the last few years we have been in the happy situation of having a good number of dancers, great musicians, and plenty of events to dance at.  These have been good years and we’ve rubbed along as well as can be expected, but Spring Grove Morris Men and Off-Spring Morris are in a unique situation.  No other two sides have the same relationship, that of a men’s side and a mixed side, and over the last year this relationship has become strained.



How all other organisations have dealt with this is either to become mixed, or where one gender wishes to retain its side’s identify, establish two sides, a men’s and a women’s side that support each other.

The men’s and women’s sides approach has many benefits over the current set-up:

-          A member belongs to one side; no more multiple memberships

-          Payment of membership fees becomes clear; one payment for one membership

-          The irresolvable contradictions in the constitutions are removed, providing a sound footing to go forward.

-          The identity of each side becomes clear; there is no confusion between the men’s side and the mixed side.

-          Sides become responsible for their own destiny and any perceived gender bias no longer occurs.

-          Each side has as a minimum a directing mind (Squire, Chair, President, Director etc.) to preserve independence, with other roles potentially shared minimising the number of officers required.

-          The name of the each side is chosen by its members as they wish, there is no imposition from another side.

-          The kit for each side is can be designed by its members as they wish, there is no imposition from another side.

-          Dances often viewed as gender specific dances can be replaced, removing any exclusion from dances.

-          Each side chooses its style of dance, such as sticking, removing a reason for not joining a set.

-          The two sides support each other with officers, musicians, dancers, practice space so nothing is lost from the current arrangement.

-          The two sides can undertake events independently or together, they have complete flexibility and the current pattern of practice and performance can be maintained.

There are many sides that use this set-up successfully for example:

-          Wolf’s Head (men) and Vixen (women) – both Border,

-          Dead Horse Morris, i.e. Dead Horse Morris Men and Broomdashers (women) – both Border,

-          Chelmsford Morris , i.e. men’s side – Cotswold - and women’s side  – Northwest,

-          Oyster Morris, i.e. Oyster Men and Oyster Women - both Cotswold,

-          Etcetera Morris Men (Ealing Teachers’ College = etc) - Cotswold - and Enfield Chasers (women’s) – Northwest,

-          Chingford Morris, i.e. men’s side – Cotswold - and women’s side – Northwest,

-          Carlisle Sword Morris & Clog – men’s Cotswold, women’s Clog, mixed sword.

-          Dorset Buttons – i.e. Dorset Buttons Morris (women’s Northwest), Dorset Button’s Rapper ( men’s rapper),

-          Hoddesdon Crownsmen and Hoddesdon Step Clog (women)

-          Headcorn Morris, i.e. Headcorn Morris Men and Headcorn Morris Women – both Cotswold

-          Mad Jack’s Morris, i.e. Mad Jack’s Morris Men and Mad Jack’s Morris Women – both Cotswold.



The benefits for a two side by gender set-up clearly outweigh the current muddled approach and I propose we adopt the structure forthwith.