With all the wonderful partying over the past weeks promoting the Trust and its efforts to save Westgate Hall, it’s difficult to imagine the sleepless nights, grey hair and pasty faces of the Trust’s Executive Committee.

What have we been up to? Last week, Adelina (Chair) and I (Vice Chair) arrived in the Cathedral precincts while dew lay on the grass and the shadows were long. We were there for breakfast with the Rotary Club of Canterbury Sunrise. It was delicious!  But more importantly we had a chance to expand our connections in the Canterbury community and introduce the Trust with our first power point of who we are, what we have done and where we are heading. (We will add this to our website shortly.)

Rotary Sunrise was encouraging and supportive.  Rotarians appreciated hearing from the horse’s mouth (rather than through the rumour mill) about the Trust’s ambitions for Westgate Hall, supports further information sharing, and    gave us fundraising suggestions.  Huge thanks to one of the Trust’s volunteers who made this event happen.

With my coffee cup barely back on its saucer, I was off to Folkestone for the Kent and Medway Funding Fair organized and supported by Action with Communities in Rural Kent, Kent County Council, the Big Lottery Fund, the Charity Bank, CCWorks and Reeves.  Fellow Trust member David (specialist in Voluntary Sector Fundraising) came with me. I’ve listed the main organisations to show the scope of funding thinking that is taking place despite, or because of, the current economic climate. Speakers at the 27 workshops wanted feedback and dialogue. David and I focused on BIG, Trustee Responsibilities with Reeves, the Santander Foundation, Lloyds TSB Foundation, Approaching Corporates with CCWorks, and Understanding Social Enterprise with KaMSEN.

Talking with participants from other voluntary organizations uncovered confusion and trepidation.  Having lost their traditional funding sources many are needing to re evaluate their structures and planning.  Yet some do consider the current turmoil an opportunity for fresh thinking. As far as the Trust is concerned, last week made clear there will be strong competition for funds should we succeed in taking over the Hall. However the Trust’s detailed preparation of programmes which respond to community feedback, together with the Hall’s attributes, will make us strong competitors. And the story of our Facebook origin fascinates, as does the way we use the internet to build our constituency. We appear to be ground breakers.

And then, while some have danced holes into their shoes or are cultivating tans in this glorious Spring sunshine, we have been hammering out a progress report for the Council about the Trust’s activities over the past year.  Pulling together all our data has shone a spotlight on our organic growth from an internet movement into a fully fledged community group with membership. Or, as it’s Spring, from being a seed we’ve grown into a strapping sapling, with trunk straight, branches skyward-reaching, buds bursting through.

The report will shortly be available on our website as an annual report.

In the meantime, back to the keyboard….and yet more emails!