Autumn 2021 | Chair’s Report

Neil Gough FECA ChairI hope that this message finds you all well and perhaps even enjoying the summer break and some nice weather. 

We held our second Annual General Meeting via Zoom in May and I would like to use the opportunity to reflect on recent FECA activity and the year ahead. It was very pleasing to see so many organisations represented. For FECA, 2020/1 was a year that presented many challenges but equally some highlights. In terms of challenges, many of our member organisations’ activities were suspended during the lockdown and we are very conscious of the potential need to support these groups as they seek to re-establish their normal activities.

Obviously, one of the greatest disappointments was that we had to cancel the Fen Edge Festival that would have taken place this June. It was the right decision as it was just too difficult to make the commitments and plan the event against the backdrop of such uncertainty. There is every hope that the deferral will just be a year and the event will take place in June 2022, with planning starting later this year. I know everyone will be very keen to know the dates so that they can plan and have something to look forward to. I am pleased to be able to announce that the provisional dates will be 24-26 June. Obviously, there is still a lot of uncertainty about the shape of the event and what will be possible but we are very interested to hear from anyone wishing to get involved in the organisation of the festival.

However, it was also a year in which FECA stepped up to many challenges. In terms of the Covid-19 support, FECA enabled the re-purposing of the Fun Run online entry platform to a kitty system to support shopping for shielding residents. The system has since processed over £10,000 worth of shopping. We are very proud to have been part of the Covid-19 support groups’ efforts in Cottenham and Willingham.

We are also proud of the grants that continued through the year including the largest grant that FECA has ever awarded that was given to the Village College towards a new audio-visual system.

In total, during 2020/21, grants of just over £8,000 were made.

We suspended membership fees in 2020/21 for our member groups. A very small gesture in recognition of the financial pressures. Our current membership stands at 71 organisations, community groups and charities which is double the number of members from 5 years ago and reflects the increasing value and profile of FECA in the community. It is particularly pleasing that we have seen new members in Willingham such as Willingham Parish Council and most recently Willingham Cricket Club.

Overall, not a year we will remember with any fondness, but FECA remains a very active organisation that is proud of its success in supporting other local organisations, groups and charities.

Lastly, I wish to thank the Management Committee for all their efforts over the past year. In particular, I would like to thank Tony Blick, who is stepping down from FECA, but who has done much in a short period of time to strengthen the link between Cottenham Village College and FECA. The meetings have continued regularly on Zoom and I don’t think we missed a beat. This was also the first year operating under the new Constitution which has established a much clearer and more robust governance structure.

Neil Gough
Chair – Fen Edge Community Association