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April Newsletter - Chairman's AGM Report

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the first annual general meeting of Prescription Art Test Valley.

It seems hard to believe that we have now being a registered charity for over a year and have been running our classes now for nearly four years.

The announcement of our new status as a registered charity was a memorable day last April but, for me, there have been many other memorable days in the last few years.

Notably, when I first met Vicki Matthews, our wonderful Lead Arts facilitator who from the outset has set the standard for the classes we run. Vicki, not only are you a wonderful friend and a true inspiration but the very essence of what I hoped PATV would become. Thank you, Vicki for all you do. Where would be without you? You also brought with you one of our Trustees, Alan. Thank you Alan not only for what you do in your role but for letting us have Vicki for more hours than we deserve.

Then there was the memorable day when I received an enthusiastic reply to my email to Peter White asking if he was interested in helping with our venture. Without Peter we would never have obtained any credibility with the local practices. Peter has worked tirelessly to let the local GP practices know about the services we provide and has continued to support us with his insight and wisdom. Thank you so much Peter!

Mavis Sawdy came to us via Rum’s Eg with a wealth of knowledge of how to apply for grants and is always full of expertise on where to find more funds. Thanks to her our coffers are healthy. Thank you Mavis. Your work, I know, is often tedious but so valuable to us.

Pat Crates has the unenviable job of Treasurer which she fulfills with unstinting accuracy and attention to detail. Being married to an accountant, money matters have never been my area of expertise but Pat has her finger on the pulse and I am so grateful to her.

To run the classes we have and to have such support, we have been so fortunate that we have had some excellent volunteers from the outset. Harry Wesley has progressed to Facilitator and now supports Vicki in the classes and allows her to have a day off from time to time.

We are more than fortunate with the wonderful volunteers who support the Facilitators. Lisa Parsons, Bernice Wolstenholme, Jo Nutt and Linda Matthews. Thank you all of you for the hours you put in to help. Each of you are amazing and we are so grateful to you. Someone told me recently that volunteers are worth £11 per hour to charities. I have no idea how they made that calculation but in my humble opinion this is a considerable underestimate.

Thank you, too, to our Advisory Board. Dr Simon Tricker, Mary Rowland and Alison McKay who have agreed to be on hand when we need their expertise. Thank you for your continuing support.

Our singing groups, while not as popular as the art sessions, have continued to thrive under the direction of Kim Garner whose enthusiasm in leading these sessions is joyous. Kim cannot be here today but a heartfelt thanks to her. She will be leading a band of Prescription Art Singers in a Flash Mob rendition of Stand by Me at Southampton Railway Station on 20th May to mark the beginning of mental health week. I am looking forward to joining them.

I should also mention the support we have had from our Town Centre Manager Mark Edgerley who has been a great help in providing resources for our practice exhibitions and unfailing moral support.

As with most small charities we multi task and I occasionally moonlighted as Website person, so I am very grateful to Nadine Fortune who is now looking after our website . We have tried this year to raise our profile locally and I tweet enthusiastically when I can. We have 48 followers!

We have had some mini exhibitions in local surgeries which has certainly brought us some new referrals. Peter knows how to charm all the local practice managers into finding space for our display boards!

Well, we have had a wonderful year! We have had over 60 referrals to our classes from all the practices in Romsey and North Baddesley, Chandlers Ford, Stockbridge and a few from further afield. Patients who have attended have reported huge improvements in their mental health, they have produced some wonderful work, some of which has been produced as greeting cards which are sold at a small profit which is ploughed back into our funds.

We have been the recipients of some very generous donations and grants. Notably donations from Maritime Zone Solutions, the Romsey Carnival Fund, Romsey and Chandlers Ford Round Table to name but a few. We have just been nominated as Charity of the year by the Romsey chamber of Commerce. We were thrilled to receive this nomination and all these donations are perhaps an indication that at last mental health and well-being issues are no longer the Cinderellas they once were.

Social Prescription is now really taking off countrywide. We have been asked for our advice in setting up similar services in Eastleigh and Twyford and we wish these centres well in the future. We should be justly proud of what we have achieved in Romsey, setting a standard for excellence in this field of improving mental health. I hope this time next year to be able to report that we continue to thrive and to benefit our local community.

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