The last Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Newport Ship was held on Saturday 29 September 2018.  The speaker for the opening session was John Wilson, volunteer and Trustee of the Matthew of Bristol who told us the working history of the Matthew and what they had learned in that time.  The Chairman’s report is appended below the table of committee members

If you have the time and the inclination to join the Friends and stand as a committee member, we would be delighted to talk to you before the next AGM in September 2019.

The day to day management of the Friends of the Newport Ship is carried out by a Committee elected at each Annual General Meeting. The elected members of the Committee also constitute the Trustees of the charity. The Committee for 2018-19 is:


Role Person Email
Chair Robert (Bob) Evans
Vice-Chair Philip Cox
Secretary Robert Kenny

Treasurer Peter Horleston
Other elected members Jean Gray Retail Coordinator
Lewis Griffiths Ship Centre Events
  Huw Gulliver  
  Liz Gulliver  
  Kate Humby  
  Charlotte Vigar Social Media:
Co-opted members Charles Ferris Honorary Patron
  Jeff Brooks  
Lynne Crabbe
  Claire Dowd Minutes Secretary


Chairman’s Report: FoNS AGM 29 September 2018

Thank you all for coming. Thanks to our speaker for the fascinating history of the Matthew of Bristol.  I hope we can tease out lessons for our future development and possible foray into the world of replica shipbuilding.

In this, my last Chairman’s report following 4 years of dedicated effort to the role, I am grateful to the project for providing a refuge from the harsh events in my personal life.  Times have moved on and I have another love in my life and she is justifiably demanding of my attention.

At this point I would highlight Naura’s efforts and seek your support for her Cardiff half marathon next weekend.  Sponsorship forms are available and you can give per km, per mile or however much you want to help spur her onwards.

Firstly, I want to look back at the past year and critically appraise our performance

In this ‘year of the volunteer’ I want to highlight and commend our volunteers.

Our volunteers have done a sterling job in ensuring that the Ship Centre is opened as advertised – it has at times been a struggle but new stars have emerged to carry the torch. Thanks especially to Jeff, John deCaux, Allan Cook, Lewis & Charlie, Liz, Little Eric, Kyle and all the others who have stepped in.

The Cabin has been manned exclusively by Jean (accompanied as ever by John) and Lynne handling over £  of sales to all comers in the past year plus dealing with the donations received from our visitors, now with the added complexity of the taking of card payments.

We have been out on the road giving talks and attending events, seeking to encourage visitors to the Ship Centre. Thanks to Toby, Rob, Allan (who can deliver the talk in Welsh) and Jeff for giving talks, and to Rob, Kate & John, Liz & Huw, John Putley and others for helping ‘man the stand’, and as always special thanks to our Patron, Charles Ferris for his ever enthusiastic outings (in whatever guise)

There are new helpers, Susan and Christine who now come along and keep the Ship Centre clean and shiny – with a smile, vac, mop and spray cleaner they help make the place presentable for our visitors. We have been pleased that we have been able to help them along in their other lives, and give them references to help them into paid employment – proving the value of volunteering for those seeking new work.

But we need more!  If you can give some time – even on an occasional basis, to help tell our stories – we would love to bring you on board.

I must highlight the support provided to FoNS by our curator, Dr Toby Jones, and in turn by Newport City Council.  We often forget that NCC own what we see as our project. They pay the rent, the overheads and indeed, they pay Toby!

Relationships with the Council, at all levels have massively improved over the last few years, and in a time where budget pressures on the public purse are immense, the project funding has been maintained.

Day-time visitor numbers have been similar to those from last year, but the extra visitors from our events have not materialised as I had hoped.

We have had some recent success with the Brownies – an excellent evening visit brought 24 excited and enthusiastic young visitors who are now also likely to return and bring their families.  We hope to follow this with Scouts, Sea Scouts, Sea Cadets and others as the word spreads around.

The events that we have held this year have taken us in new directions, most of them positive. I have however been disappointed in the lack of support from the wider membership at these and we are reconsidering the best nights to hold our extra-curricular events.  Music nights next year will be on Saturdays, and talks will normally take place on Wednesdays.

Our 2 main sponsors continue to support us. ABP have contributed to the printing and distribution of the annual SOS newsletter that I hope everybody here has received. Motorpoint continue to supply prizes for raffles and possibly more if we can set our minds to new competitions to raise awareness of our project and inspire new visitors.  One of whom got to go along with a guest and see Kylie at the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena just last Monday.

I’m hopeful that we can work with other organisations to recognise and formalise their support.  There are new possibilities to be explored with new companies setting up in south east Wales with Basque connections, and we would very much like formal support arrangement from Tesco whose work with the Barland Farm Boat has left us with a second string to our maritime museum bow!

Our online YouTube presence continues to yield an income, and perhaps in the coming year we can build on this and create and put up new videos that bring our story up to date.

Our future

Some 16 years after our Ship was ‘rescued’, we are approaching a massive change in direction.  The ‘conservation phase’ is nearly complete and we have to face the huge transition into the ‘reconstruction and display phase’.

Without positive action by FoNS, I truly believe that our project will stall and we will be continuing to support a minimal display of fragments of the Ship that cannot hope to drive heritage tourism in Newport and more widely across South Eat Wales.

FoNS must prepare for this new challenge with new ideas, new drive, new enthusiasm and new blood on the committee.  It is often said that ‘if you always do what you have always done, then you will always get what you’ve always got’. But that’s not going to be good enough if we want to realise our shared dreams of a display of not just our own Ship, but also the other vessels and artefacts that mark out Newport’s historic links with the sea.

Our Basque friends at Albaola are likely to play an increasing role with FoNS.  Their work to identify the actual woodland from which the timbers for our Ship were harvested continues with a new revelation that the woodland is still owned by the same family.

Their own work on the whaler San Juan is progressing well and it’s probable that their first leg of the voyage to visit the original vessel in Red Bay, Newfoundland could be to visit us here in Newport.

We will be continuing discussions regarding their next project.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were to be a faithful, full-scale reconstruction of our own Ship? There’s much to be discussed, negotiated and agreed before their work can commence, but the prospect of seeing such a vessel sailing up the Usk to visit her older sister is intriguing.

The officers of the committee have been wonderfully supportive to me.  As vice chairman, Alan Aberg has been an invaluable font of knowledge and experience.  Peter has provided sound advice and fiscal guidance to the committee and to me directly. Rob Kenny – Tweedle Dee to my Tweedle Dum – has become a close personal friend as well as a stalwart Secretary and Events Coordinator to FoNS.

You may already be aware that Alan is stepping back from his role as vice chairman but I hope that you will support me in my proposal to appoint him to the new interim post of ‘Honorary Vice President’, co-opted onto the committee for the new year to further define the roles of President and Vice President, the benefits to the incumbents and what we expect of them in return. In anticipation of this, he has drafted the following proposal to stimulate ideas so that at our next AGM we can vote to include a new section in our constitution to define two new posts and recommend who will be invited to participate.

1)  President.  The Society may elect a President, whose duties will be honorific, on the nomination of the committee, as a person distinguished by notable service to historic ships and maritime archaeology.

2)  Vice-Presidents.  The Society may elect Vice-Presidents chosen by the committee on the basis of their notable service and contribution to the Friends. They may not exceed three in number at any one time, and serve for a period of up to five years, after which they are deemed to qualify for re-election.

They must be members of the Friends, and may be invited to attend committees in an advisory and non-voting capacity, although they may not be Trustees.

In past years I have always pressed for all elected committee members to positively contribute to the running of the Friends. As we move forward we definitely have no seats for passengers on this journey. As you consider the nominations for your new committee, please help to select a team that aspire to our new inspirations.

This does not mean that our un-elected nominees will be cast aside; as I’m sure their skills and experience will continue to contribute to the wider organisation that is currently being considered.

I hope that my efforts as chair of FoNS will be remembered in a positive light.  But it is time for me to stand aside and allow the next phase of our project to be driven forward by another.

I hope that I can still contribute to our future, and I hope that the wider membership will continue to share our dreams.

Thank you.