Firstly, my apologies for not being at the AGM in person!  I’m very disappointed that I can’t be with you tonight, but doctor’s orders have meant I have had to take a back seat. I do hope to be out and about very soon, but the expression “it’s as easy as falling off a bike” doesn’t hold true for getting back on again! Especially when fractured ribs are involved!

In terms of my first year as Chair, I’m delighted to say the year to March 2018 has seen another very successful year for Scouting in the South East Scotland Region. With over 7000 young people and 2000 adults it’s heartening to see we are in good health. The membership stats in the annual report make great reading and my thanks go to everyone  involved whether directly or indirectly with making the game of scouting so relevant for our young people in South East Region.

It has also been a year of change, with a new Regional Commissioner having been appointed during the year, along with a number of other changes to the membership of the Regional Executive Committee.

Most notably we have a new Secretary, John Bruce, a new Treasurer, Malcolm Cutt, and Graeme Robertson has agreed to be vice-chair (None of us expected he would be chairing the AGM I bet!)

I would like to thank the members of Regional Executive and the various sub committees for their commitment and enthusiasm in attending regular meetings to ensure we set and monitor the business strategy for the Region as well as providing appropriate governance for all that we do as a Region. I’m also delighted that Euan McFadzean our Regional Youth Commissioner was co-opted on to the Executive this year, making sure our youth involvement extends to this committee.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank Colin Hyslop for his work in the role of Treasurer before stepping down at the end of last year and also to Brian Muir and Jill Barrow who have indicated a desire to step down from the Regional Executive at this time. They have all made significant contributions to our governance, bringing expertise and dedication to their roles.  I’m delighted to note that Jill will be continuing to provide support through her membership of the Finance committee and Brian will ensure there is a smooth handover to a new chair of the Risk Committee. Finally I would like to thank John Watt  as he steps down from the Finance committee for his significant contribution over a number of years.

Many of you will be aware that a new sub-committee, ‘Infrastructure’, has been put in place for the coming year and will be tasked with developing proposals for the longer-term investment in our outdoor centres and activity provision across the Region.  The group are due to present their initial proposal of ideas at the next Executive at the end of October.

I said at the outset, this has been a year of change and you should also be aware that our Regional Operations Manager, Gillian Fraser resigned in April giving us an opportunity to review our staffing structures. We also felt it important to seek views from our leaders and supporters on what support they would like to see from the Region in the future so that we can consider how we achieve that through our future staff and volunteer structures.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Gillian for all that she has done while in the role of Regional Operations Manager.

We agreed to take the proper time to do this review, and I was delighted that John Bruce agreed to step into an interim Centre Manager role, to allow us space to conduct this review with the input from our staff, leaders and other volunteers.  My thanks go to John, the staff team, the ASU team, the duty wardens and all the activity instructors who have not only kept things happening at Bonaly, but also made some immediate improvements to the overall customer experience there. A special word of thanks goes to Yvonne Yule who volunteered to spend her days off during the summer in the Bonaly office to lend her support!

In terms of progress with our structural review, I’m pleased to report that after consulting with a number of people including leaders, staff members and other volunteers, a paper will be going to the Regional Executive at the end of October to seek approval on a structure that we believe will be sustainable, affordable and will meet the needs of the Region. Watch this space!

As a Regional Executive, we also look forward to supporting our Regional Strategy for 2018-23 and the work we have done this past year sets us up well to do this.  I’m conscious much of my time this year has focused on Bonaly, the staff structure and coping with the changes in the Regional Executive.   It’s also been a busy time working with the Longcraig team on a number of operational matters and I’m pleased to report that lots of progress has happened this past year to enable an ongoing positive dialogue with the Dalmeny estate about securing a longer-term lease that meets the needs of all stakeholders. I also wanted to say another thank you to all at Longcraig for the taster event they hosted for the Exec and leadership team in June. – It was really well organised and clearly enjoyed by all present.

So with all that has happened this past 12 months, I look forward to next year and building on all that I have been involved with and finding some time to engage more with the District Executive teams in particular.

Margery and I have been keen this year to engender and develop a sense of being part of “One South East Scotland Region” so you should know we have been reviewing our engagement and communication approaches to ensure we are connecting everyone across the Region to deliver the game of scouting in an inclusive and supportive way.  Work has begun on our website and use of social media, so again watch this space for further developments.  The feedback we have received from our Engagements sessions has also been very helpful and we will share the high level themes that have been emerging and also how we might all work together to keep doing what we do well and bring about some improvements where needed.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank again all the Trustees and other individuals who have given generously of their time to support me and the work of the Regional Executive during the year.  I would also like to say a personal thank you to Margery, John B, Malcolm and Graeme for all their support this past year and to Dick, Ken and Douglas for their ongoing help and advice.

John Cannon – 10th October 2018