CNSF 2019 AGM Report Published on 11th November 2019

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Chairperson's Report

I am pleased to present my report for 2019 which is the eighth year of the Fund’s operation. Since the last AGM, the Fund has held four assessment meetings and has assessed 19 applications, awarding a total of £218,836 to 17 deserving community projects. When leverage funding is taken into account – because most projects rely on more than one funder – the total value of projects enabled by the Fund this year is just over £1Million. Although each application for funding is assessed on its merits, it is pleasing that each of the geographic parts of Caithness and North Sutherland has benefitted. Since its first year of operation in 2012, the Fund has awarded just over £2Million to projects which make Caithness and North Sutherland a better place to live, work and invest.

The total sum awarded annually fluctuates from year to year but is broadly in line with the yearly contribution of £300,000 from the NDA. At the beginning of this year we did see a slight reduction in the number of applications. In response to this the Fund increased its focus on PR, particularly with highlighting individual projects in addition to our quarterly press releases. We also promoted the Fund at a funding fayre and at community project events. The second half of the year has seen a significant increase in the level applications. We are also encouraged by the current level of enquiries which has increased and is now slightly ahead of last year.

In addition to the quarterly assessment meetings, the Board also held its annual review meeting in February 2019 and found that the Fund’s application process, evaluation criteria and level of applications coming forward were evidenced to be working well in order to meet the Funds mission statement, aims & objectives. Recorded feedback from applicants was also reviewed and applicant’s feedback continues to be extremely positive. The Fund’s own independent audits and NDA audit findings continues to be consistently good, which further demonstrates that the Fund is being well run.

At the last AGM it was reported that a review of the Articles of Association of the Fund had been reviewed and updated. As part of that process it was decided to increase the maximum number of our Appointed Directors from four individuals to six in order to enable a greater level of community representation on the Board. As a consequence, the Board elected Tom Sayles and Michael Simpson as appointed directors.

During the year, Councillor Linda Munro stood down from the Board and I would like to thank her for the valuable contribution she made during her period of service. Councillor Hugh Morrison joined the Board, thus maintaining representation from North Sutherland.

Lynn McIntosh, the Fund’s Administrative Assistant commenced a period of maternity leave during the year and the Fund recruited Paula Davidson to cover the duties of the post on a temporary basis. Following the birth of her baby, Lynn decided not to return to her post and Paula accepted the Board’s offer of a permanent appointment. I would like to express my thanks to Lynn for her work for the Fund, which was highly valued by the Board.

The Fund is fortunate in having David Shearer as Coordinator. David is the face of the Fund in the community as well as managing the Fund’s affairs with efficiency and professionalism. The positive feedback from applicants is testimony to the advice and support they have received from David.

Our Board of Directors works well and I would like to thank my fellow Directors for their support during the year. I am especially grateful to my Vice-Chair Gillian Coghill who fulfilled the duties of Chair for a period when I had to step aside.

Finally, on behalf of the Fund, I must thank the community bodies who have sought our support during the year. I congratulate them on their imaginative proposals and their hard work in bringing them to fruition. Their projects cover a very wide range - from healthcare to heritage – but all contribute to a sustainable future for our area. I will finish by encouraging community groups to continue to come forward with proposals which meet the objectives of the Fund. We stand ready to help.

David Glass

CNSF Chairperson