24 people attended our zoom meeting, some far afield. We discussed feedback from schools, our finances, heard some reports from people recently back from Ghana and from Kofi Ohene, one of our representatives in Ghana. After a long service to GSA as Chairman, Ted Mayne is stepping down, becoming vice chair to the new chair, William Spooner. We expressed gratitude to Ted and a warm welcome to William. Ted’s final chair’s report is reproduced below, as is an extract from our hon. sec. Jo Hallett’s report.
Chairman’s Annual Report 2020-2021:
Every year about this time when I settle down to do my annual report, I ask myself “Where has the past year gone?” Time certainly flies, especially as we get older. That said, in spite of the speedy passing of time, for us the year has been both productive and enjoyable. Thanks to Zoom we have had our quarterly meetings and the pandemic has not dampened our enthusiasm or hindered our activities. However, we all hope that we shall be able to meet up in person before too long.
When I commented on the speed the years leave us behind, I am reminded of the year 2007, when I took over the chairman’s duties from Eric Earle, who is now in his mid-nineties, and the only surviving member of the original committee. Eric still takes a keen interest in our activities and I visit him regularly. He retains a fountain of knowledge going back to the Gold Coast days. Sadly, his dear wife Auriol died earlier this year and a tribute is included in our latest bulletin.
For some time I have been considering my future with Ghana School Aid. I have been a committee member for 25 years and Chairman for 14. I was fortunate to be able to work closely with Eric Earle. When he relinquished his Chairman’s duties in 2007, I immediately took over and have held the position ever since. For me, the time and effort has been all pleasure. I have discussed my future with the committee, who have agreed I can step down with effect from this meeting. We are very fortunate in that we have William Spooner on our committee who is willing to take over. William and his family have close connections with Ghana and he is just the person to introduce new ideas. Fortunately, he has youth on his side.
Our recent newsletter includes reports on our latest projects and we have provided funds to build a number of much needed toilet blocks in a selection of rural schools. I am happy to say that, thanks to increased funding, we have given away more funds than in the past. Some of the projects have been quite ambitious and fortunately we have our Ghanaian members who are carefully monitoring our efforts. Here I pay tribute to Kofi Ohene, Alhassan Baako and Patrick Nyanteh. Our website is frequently updated, which means that our activities are there for all to see.
As I said, our work is well documented on our website and this becoming our main source of income. This is encouraging, but it does give our treasurer plenty to do. Jo Hallett has been a marvellous secretary and Penny Sewell keeps our website up-to-date. Jennifer MacDougall, once more, has produced an excellent bulletin. These are just a few whose efforts ensure that the operation is well oiled. The Charity Commission are pleased with the way we operate and nearly all our income goes into our projects. Very little goes towards expenses and all of us give much of our free time. This I know will continue. The charity is in good hands. For me, my involvement has been all pleasure and I shall support our new chairman as he takes over the reins.
I close by sending thanks to all those involved and I know that Ghana School Aid will flourish in the years ahead. Bless you all.
Extract from our secretary’s report:
In the year 2021 -2021, we were able to give grants to 23 schools or projects, nearly all for toilets and sanitation, as this has been our focus for the past two years. During the “application window” of October 2019, we had 62 applications; in October 2020 we had over 70 more. It is clear that the need is very great; I have been sent photos of some dreadful facilities, and many schools have none at all. The effects are particularly severe for girl pupils and female teachers dealing with menstruation, but also have implications for the spread of disease.