2023 AGM Minutes


NODA East Region Annual General Meeting
Held on Sunday 16 April 2023, at The Forum, Danestrete, Stevenage, SG1 1EJ



1.               Welcome – Tessa welcomed all those present.

2.               Present – The NODA East Committee (15 members) NODA President Nick Lawrence, NODA COO Dale Freeman, Kevin Rooney, Jen Ives, Michael Williamson, Dee Lovelock, Margaret Binks, Chris Shin, Michael Husband, Lavinia Pirret, Kelly Winson, Russell Winson, Ashley Gooch,  L Meers, Ian Gooch, Susan Hardy, Anver Anderson, Sam McCarthy, Nickki Heap, Theresa Kopplin, Chloe Coleman, Karen Gitting

Apologies for Absence  - Christine Davidson Rep District  8, Chris Bailey from Westcliffe

We also received messages of support from Gordan Richardson, Immediate past President sends his best  wishes to all my friends in NODA East for  a wonderful AGM and Awards day on Sunday. Ian Cox, Councillor also sent his best wishes for our awards day. 

3.               In Memoriam – NODA East Secretary Catherine Dixey read out a list of tributes received from Societies for members who we had lost in the past year.  She thanked the Societies for all their fine tributes and apologised for having to cut them down to a bare minimum. 

4.               Minutes of the 2022 AGM held on Sunday 10 April 2022 at Wyboston Lakes

The minutes were approved – proposed by Hazel Hole & Seconded by Michael Williamson.


5.               Matters Arising  - none

6.               Councillor’s Report - When we realised that we were able to return to this venue this year, we were very excited.  Last year we had to restrict the numbers, in the smaller venue, and, even then, we didn’t know if we would get an audience.  In the event we sold out and it is a testament to everyone involved, that last year’s event was such a success.  

When we made the decision to return to The Forum, we were still not certain that we would get the support of the membership.  After all it has been a difficult couple of years!

Well, we need not have been concerned, the fact that this year’s event sold out completely within 5 weeks of the tickets going on sale is great, thank you to all our societies, in demonstrating your support for NODA East.

So, this sold out event is a real celebration of the East Region Amateur Theatre scene’s return to something nearer normality.

It’s lovely to see you all and we are now confident that we can move forward.  I have seen a lot of productions, large and small, in the past year and the societies have always made me so welcome.   I look forward to seeing many more in the next 12 months.

It’s an exciting time for theatre in general and, in particular, for amateur theatre.   More and more, newer, shows are now being released for performance by amateur societies and our membership is quick to take advantage of this.  One thing I am sure you will notice, this afternoon, is the wide variety of productions, especially plays, that feature in the nominations.   Societies are being much more adventurous in their productions, and I see new ‘takes’ on scenery, performance, and costumes every time I go to see a show.

Although a few societies have still not renewed their NODA subscription in the past year, we can report that more are now doing so as they recognise the support that NODA gave them during the pandemic and in the year that followed. The NODA East team, all of whom are volunteers, is a strong one and we are all here ready to provide you, our members, with the support, guidance and advice that may be needed.

NODA has some big plans for the years ahead and we hope that our membership will recognise the benefit to them of the developments that will be taking place.

So, moving forward in 2023, I would encourage you all to invite me along to see your shows.  Please take advantage of the experience we have in the regional team and, above all, have a great year.


7.               Treasurer’s Report – Leslie Judd distributed copies of the accounts to those present. Notes on end of year accounts.

As can be seen from the accounts spreadsheet there is no income comparison for obvious reasons between 2021 and 2022. Income is mainly through self-financing Regional Conference; there is no aim to make a profit on this and a subsidy from Head Office 

Additionally, there is really no comparison between expenditure for the two years, the £567.08 shown for Regional Conference was the £500 deposit for the 2022 Conference and a very late bill for technical assistance for the 2020 Conference.

Total income for 2022 Conference (inc VAT) was £15,773.96, expenditure including Deposit paid in prior year was £15,766.87.


Expenditure has returned more or less back to normal. Committee meetings in 2021 were mainly held via zoom, although we continue to hold some meetings by zoom to reduce travel expenses and room hire. 

Summer School Expenditure is the costs associated with Regional Reps attending a visitors’ day at NODA Summer School. National Conference costs are travel expenses and a contribution towards accommodation. Again, as neither of these events took place in 2021 there are no comparisons.

Travel costs for Reps to visit and review shows are the biggest expense and with fuel costs being very high last year these are high. 

So, we started the year with £3,162.34 in the bank, income £18,985.16, Expenditure £20,722.20 resulting in an end of year balance of £1,425.30   Leslie Judd, Treasurer NODA East

Proposed Sue Dupont & Seconded by Nova Horley


8.               Membership Secretary’s report - Julie Petrucci reported NODA East Region society membership is holding steady having ended 2022/2023 with a society membership of 227 as against 225 in 2021/2022.  

Society Membership now runs from 1 April to 31 March each year which means it is difficult to give a precise number of member societies today as renewals due on 1 April are still coming in and are steadily being processed by Head Office. However, the number of renewals so far is encouraging. 

Individual membership runs from January to December and numbers remain fairly stable, currently standing level with 2022/2023 at 56. Schools and Colleges are on a rolling membership therefore their renewal dates vary throughout the year.  

On the debit side some societies still haven’t weathered the storm of the last few  years as well as others and we are still hearing of societies disbanding either through lack of membership or support, which is sad.  On the credit side, the number of NODA East Region member societies renewing for 2023/2024 is looking positive with the number on Saturday 15 April standing at 155.


9.               President’s Address from Nick Lawrence  - 

Nick said there had been plenty going on which had kept him busy as he travelled around the country and he was delighted to be back in the East for our Awards Day.  He delivered an inspirational speech on the importance of NODA in the community and how the East was appreciated as a region.


10.             NODA’s  Chief Operating  Officer report by Dale Freeman – 

Once again, we are in the midst of membership renewals. Incredibly, it takes head office over 3 months every year to chase and renew the 2000 or so society members that we have. A large percentage are reliable, as many of you here today are, I’m sure, in that they know memberships expire at the end of March every year without exception and come early to mid-March they either renew, without prompting online or simply contact us to renew their membership over the phone before it expires. This not only saves us a lot of time, but also the cost of postage in sending out letters and forms. And with the increase in postage costs this is a significant saving. By the end of April, we normally have around 60% of the membership renewed. Those other 40% will take, and I exaggerate not, until around June when they finally get around to doing it, and usually this is when they have invited their regional representative to attend a show, only to be told they are no longer members. Thankfully, we do eventually get most to renew, but again, it does take some time. So, thank you to all those here today who have already renewed their subscription for the coming 12 months. 

Membership Survey

Most of the main society contacts will have been sent our membership survey which was sent to the membership late last year. Also, if you are an individual member, you would have been sent a link to complete the survey also. If you received either and completed it, we are truly grateful. The survey has now closed and information we have gleaned from this is extremely important and invaluable to the CIO in terms of ensuring we are relevant to amateur theatre for at least the next decade.

From our membership, we received 643 responses, which equates to a 25% response rate which, as surveys go, is an extremely positive result, and again, we are truly grateful.

As those of you who received it will know, we asked a myriad of questions designed to give the feedback we need to shape NODA in the coming years, and I have to say, the information we’ve seen from the survey has given us precisely that. 

We needed to find out what our members think of our services, were they, or indeed WE, still relevant, were the benefits offered to our members sufficient? What did you think of your regional support for example?

Rest assured, and we are still analysing the responses, we are taking the findings very seriously and will be acting upon them in the coming months.

Based on these results, we will have a clear marketing strategy for going forward, and this strategy will be used to market ourselves, to societies that are not members of NODA. We need to grow our membership to survive the coming decades, so please, if you have the chance, please put in a good word for us to any society who are not NODA members! 


We cannot rely on subscriptions alone. Pantomimes play a major part in our income. NODA pantomimes have had a revamp in recent years and as well as old titles being removed, new ones have been added. We now have somewhere in the region of 170 titles. We are constantly taking in new fresh authors. Please have a look at them (pantoscripts.org.uk) I am confident you will find something suitable for your next production.


New Awards

Towards the end of 2022, we introduced 2 new awards – the 5-year award. Excluding the youth award badge, previously the lowest length of service you could apply for was the 10-year award, this is in the same format, i.e., a badge, and can be applied for in the usual way.

The 2nd new badge is the NODA Achievement Award. This is for clubs to buy ‘off the shelf’ as it were, there is no application process. It is designed to be given by the club to any one of its members for, perhaps, an outstanding contribution to a show, or simply being a much-valued member of the society? It’s the society’s choice as to what reason they award it to one of their members. Both badges are priced at £15. Both can be seen on our website, the Achievement Award in the online shop and the 5-year badge in the awards section of the website.

Just before signing off, as always, I would like to thank you, the members for your support to NODA. Also, a big thank you to your regional committee for the sterling work that they do for you, without whom, NODA could not be what it is.

Dale Freeman, NODA Chief Operating Officer


11.             Appointment of Councillor for 2023/2024 -  At this point Nick Lawrence was asked to chair the meeting. He thanked Tessa for all her hard work over the past year. As there were no other nominations Tessa Davies was duly declared Councillor for the East.

12.             Appointment of Regional Representatives, Assistant Representatives  & Committee for 2023/2024  

Tessa Davies said that all on our committee are volunteers and thanked them all for their efforts over the past year. 

She also advised that we had been unable to fill the vacant position of Rep District 1.   In view of that the Societies in that District had been re-allocated to the Reps in adjacent Districts.

In District 5 Sue Dupont had stepped down as Rep and was appointed Assistant.  Martyn Rolfe who was her Assistant had taken over as Rep.

In District 9 Vicki Avery had retired leaving the position currently vacant.

In District 10 Zahna Hull had stepped down as Rep and was appointed Assistant. Deborah Jea, who was the Assistant had taken over as Rep.

The remaining Reps were re-appointed and the following were all confirmed.

Districts:- E2 Richard Fitt,                          E3 Nova Horley,                        E4N Leslie Judd,                       E4S Julie Petrucci,

                  E5 Martyn Rolfe,                        E6 Sarah Meers                         E8 Christine Davidson              E9 position vacant

                  E10 Deborah Jea,                     E11 Hazel Hole                          E12 Catherine Dixey

Assistant Reps :-   Richard Lovelock,  Jess Pether,  Sue Dupont,  Zahna Hull,  

A new appointment of Phil Melia as an assistant Rep was also confirmed.  

Committee posts. All the current committee posts were re-appointed as follows:-

Secretary - Catherine Dixey                      Treasurer – Leslie Judd                             Membership Secretary - Julie Petrucci 

Webmaster - Alex Bilsland                        Awards Secretary – Deborah Jea            Youth Co-ordinator – Zelda Rolfe

Magazine Editor – Dee Dee Doke


12.             Presentations –  Tessa  thanked Sue  Dupont for all she had done over her long period as Rep for E5. She had been presented with a garden bench which had already been delivered to her cottage, but we will continue to see her in her new capacity as assistant Rep. 

Vicki Avery was also thanked for all her contributions as Rep E9 and was presented with a crystal vase.

13.             Date and venue for 2023 AGM  - which will be on 7th April 2024, and we have rebooked  The Forum in Stevenage.  

14.             Open Forum to discuss any other business – Dee Dee Doke the East editor of NODA Today magazine asked Societies to please send her your stories along with any photos. Her email address is deedee.doke@noda.org.uk. 

Jenny (Watlington) raised a question about where to get help on ‘Gender Fluid ‘ issues.  Dale confirmed that a new factsheet was already being prepared and updated.  It is a hot topic and is high on their agenda.  It was also suggested that she contact her local Council where she would be able to get help.

Sam McCarthy said they had had problems with safeguarding issues. He said Hazel Hole, their Rep had been brilliant, but Essex CC were constantly changing the rules.  Tessa confirmed that there is a factsheet on the NODA website with an email address and telephone number so you can get help with DBS checking and best practise. NODA also do an online checking service. 


15.             Close Meeting – at 11am












Appendix 1

Memoriams for 2023 AGM

District 3

Jill Hardman - Breakaway Theatre Co. Actor, director and a member since 2004. 

Ruth Smith  - Putteridge Bury, Gilbert & Sullivan Soc.  one of their founding members  and a star alto.

David ‘Keith‘ Richards -  he joined St Andrew’s Players in 1958,& was a highly talented actor, singer, director  & a great comedian. He also performed with Luton Amateurs, The Top Hatters (now PhoenixPlayers) and Harpenden Operatic 

Barry Simmonds -  he was TADS longest serving member, he acted, directed & vice Chair in his 33 years with them. 



Sonya Moran - Haslingfield Little Theatre -. She stage managed many shows and  had the  practical skills to  approach any set building problem. 

Also from Haslington -  Betty Hunt she reached the grand old age of  99 and was a member for many years. She was formidable in her contribution to scenery and props, continuing to paint amazing scenery well into her 80s.

Tim Brown  - Wilburton Theatre Group long-time chair and musical director. 

Geoff Reed - Swaffham Bulbeck Summer Theatre. He was the Society’s founder. An actor, singer and many time director.

The following 3 all from Bury St Edmunds Operatic & Dramatic Society
Dorothy Baker, who performed in full productions and concerts over many years

Chrissy Harrod, who was their Wardrobe Mistress for a long time. 

Gloria Stewart, who performed in shows but was best known as the founder of the Berkeley Squares with their Old Time Music Halls.

Charlie Banwell  Comberton Players - was Society Chairman. A true gentleman with a velvet voice on stage and a constant encourager off stage. 


District 5  

Chrissy Drury  Cromer & Sheringham ODS

  Peter Thrower   also with  Cromer & Sheringham  performer of cameo roles

Chrissy Drury also Cromer & Sheringham performer

John Hamment    Dereham Theatre Company was part of their  FOH team

Bob McNeil Watson     MD of Lowestoft Players and other groups

Ken Davis  performer East Norfolk OS and Norfolk Opera Players


District 6

  Richard Smith  - Joined Spotlight Musical Theatre Group in 1993. He had been chairman, director and a life long member. 


District 7

   Mick Morris.-  much loved  member and stalwart of Chelmsford Theatre Workshop . 

 Jenny Salisbury – Past President and Chair of Dunmow Players. Her strong

leadership skills made her a valued member of the society.

Jim Morgan – Chairman of Centre Stage Co, he was described as its heart and soul, being involved with the society since it’s formation.    

Tim Younger – was in  the junior section of Bishops Stortford Musical Theatre Co. in the 90’s, continuing to perform as a student and an adult.

Anne Senior – also from Bishops Stortford Musical Theatre Co. for nearly 40 years, performing as a principal and in the ensemble.  Anne was always glamorous, smiling and a complete professional.


District 8

Lynette Sullivan, CAODS  she was a member for 50 years,  was a life-member and on the Executive Committee. She performing on stage, and was also wardrobe mistress. 


District 9

John Airey - Stevenage Lytton Players a well-respected member for many years. He worked tirelessly as Centre and Tech Manager with staging, tech, sound, and  lighting. 


District 10

 Eileen Davey -  Billericay Operatic Society.  she was a long standing member  and former leading lady of the group.


District 11

Erna Jennings – member of Bocking Theatre Club for many years,  performing in many of their productions and had also been their Secretary.

RON CRABTREE - Holland On Sea Theatrical Society He was with them from the beginning in 2013, a creative influence for set design & construction team.

RAY HUNTER –Also with Holland on Sea.  Ray was the husband of one of their acting members and caretaker at the Holland Public Hall. 

Bob Wheatley - Manifest Theatre Group, Manningtree. He was well respected one of the founder members and trustee, who worked tirelessly to make the theatre what it is today. 

Beryl Grunbaum -  The Orchard Players, Capel St Mary, she was an early member of the society singing and appearing in the chorus and moved on to producing and directing a number of musical shows.

The next 3 all from Sudbury Dramatic Soc:-

Linda Betteridge  -. She performed and directed for 37 years, having been employed at the Quay Theatre in the 1980s. She was also the publicity machine for many years.

Peter Scott-Smith. He first appeared for the Soc in 1982, going on to direct a number of challenging plays in the ‘80s and ‘90s. 

Michael Munn Was a prolific author of books about Hollywood actors. He was the publicity manager of the Quay Theatre in the ‘90s & directed numerous plays between 1988 and 2009.

Anne Wilson - Witham Amateur Operatic Soc, a supportive member since 1996, was enthusiastic with a zest for life and always fun. 

David Lee.  – Wivenhoe Musical Theatre,was a former treasurer of the group. He sang in many shows as a member of the chorus and in later years, continued to support the

Society as a friend and audience member.

Simon Yaxley  - Clacton Musical Theatre. A member for 20 years, was in numerous productions, incl variety concerts, musicals and  as Dame in their Pantos,  before moving up to Scotland to be a BBC local radio presenter.


 District 12

Alan Huckle   a well know face on stage with many groups in Suffolk and Norfolk. He also wrote many scripts, being one of the 4 authors of 4 by 4.

Rebecca  Lilley -  Stowmarket Operatic & Dramatic. Acting was in her blood, 1st appearing at the age of 8 in Sound of Music. Daughter of  David and Anne Lilley long standing members of SODS and sister to Adam also from SODS and who is now a professional Actor.  

Lieutenant Colonel  Frank Lea - Needham Market Entertainment Co. – He took on wide variety of roles  both when in the Army  and afterwards. Always playing the comical  Dame in  their Pantos at Needham &  also numerous productions with Stowmarket SODS. 

 Sid Adams -  Stowmarket SODS. who for over 30 years worked  building sets and was to be found helping backstage. 

Peter Downey. - Deben Players he appeared on stage in productions ranging from Selsdon in Noises Off to a comedy panda in pantomime.

June Everson. – Also of  Deben Players appeared on stage in many productions and assisted with costumes.