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Published 3 March 2021

Just as we thought the lockdown would be lifting soon, Mr Secretary tells me it’s time for the AGM. Not to mention our annual tribute to the Charity Commission – known as the TAR.  As Monty Python didn’t quite say, ‘Nobody expects the AGM’.   What to do?  We can’t meet face-to-face. Could we send out papers by pigeon – no, too messy. Looks like it’s got to be TOWIE – the only way is electronic.  Time to book the mighty Vroom for an online AGM

How does that work?  Wave hands in the air to speak?  Send cheeky little messages via the chat button? Remember to mute ourselves – not a normal state for most of our members.  Phone in voting – no, too much like Eurovision (nul points from Latvia!)  Aaarrgh! – time to phone a friend.

“Wave hands in the air to speak?  Send cheeky little messages via the chat button?”

Should be OK.  Now to check what Mr Chairman said last year.  Promoting social inclusion, tick.  Helping in the community – tick.  Social activities – tick. So far so normal.  And the challenges? – how to involve more members, fitting a quart of members into a pint-size room, sorting out Health and Safety (groan). 

And was there anything Mr Chairman failed to mention.  Ah yes, just the global pandemic.  Put that in your risk assessment and smoke it.   COVID – at the time not much more than a blip on the other side of the world, then three weeks later it’s full lockdown, Shed closed and nothing happening.  How can we keep going?

“Put that in your risk assessment and smoke it.”

Then Mr Vice-chairman chips in – what about Vroom?  We could meet online.  Mr Treasurer says it’s fine by him as long as we don’t spend any money.  Surely we’re too old for this Twitch, Facepack and Wotsupp business, says Mr Chairman, suppressing his rising panic.  No, no, Mr VC says, it really works.  And amazingly enough it does – very well indeed.  We send out a link, they click on it and a dozen join for the first meeting on the right day and time – even some of the tech refuseniks.  And ever since then it has crept up to about 20 each week.

“Surely we’re too old for this Twitch, Facepack and Wotsupp business”

Nine months or so later, we still have a weekly meeting by Vroom.  Not to mention online talks, member interviews, discussion topics, quizzes and photo challenges.  And when allowed – a score of community projects, a fishing trip, a few walks and patio get-togethers. Not to mention several repair shed sessions, and shifting multiple bird boxes and bug homes etc in aid of local charities.  All the wildlife round here are buying their second and third homes.

But, back to the AGM.  Talk about a strange year, indeed one that nearly knocked the Shed for six.  But one that also brought out the best in Shedding.  The year when we adapted quickly to a new world and proved that the spirit of Shedding can survive and even thrive in extraordinary circumstances.  And what of the challenges ahead?  Should we prepare for another plague – could be frogs or boils this time?  Maybe not, but what Mr Chairman definitely won’t be predicting is another uneventful year.

By Ed Shed from little Dodderington…

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