(East Midlands Association of Civic & Heritage Societies)

by Philip Greaves  —  July 2014

At the busy Community Centre with a mass of children moving hither and thither, a bright little boy greeted us, saying: “Hello, you’re in there!”

It occurred to us to ask how he had known who we were — “Oh, I helped the man set up the room,” he proudly replied.  Later on that storm-laden Saturday morning, he popped up like a jack-in-the-box boasting to his friends how he’d shown us in…  and been appreciated !

Agenda item 1: “Welcome by Horncastle History & Heritage Society” was duly commenced, and we even reached item 5: “Matters arising”

But then somehow the formal meeting transmogrified into a real conversation between sincerely interested people, sitting round a table talking directly to each other

The perception had changed: we were no longer in a worn-out marriage, going “through the motions” — we were suddenly in a relationship with some spark

Every ‘civic’ society has had past triumphs, otherwise they would have folded.  However, they will also have challenges, which tend to cloud the perspective of the causes they are fighting for or maintaining

Open Meetings need to be arranged as a seating of equals around a table or space, while the Agenda needs to be turned upside down:

The introduction should be allotted to EMACHS, and the main body of the gathering designated as a “Special Event” of the host society:  sharing its successes, and discussing its difficulties… with ‘fellow travellers’

Our officers and member societies constitute a solid body of experience, and are able to offer an outsider’s impartial view or advice with guaranteed empathy — willing to learn, and take away any issues requiring further investigation

An EMACHS officer’s report would be better valued as a published item, interacting with the majority of members, rather than given verbally to a clear minority

Association issues that need to be voted upon, require publication beforehand, with proxy voting arranged, and then formally decided at the next Open Meeting or AGM

The purpose of EMACHS is to supply an extra dimension to the civic involvement

EMACHS operates at a regional level, as opposed to a more distant national or governmental one

Rather than arranging impersonal business venues, EMACHS meetings take place in society members “homes” — their village hall, community centre, craft museum

When Boston hosted the meeting in 2012, we used it as an excuse to call in favours of local experts and re-energise the members, to make an extra presentational effort to show off what our society and locality had to be proud of

EMACHS’ October Conference this year is with Wellingborough Civic Society on “Computing and Communications”, and that is a more specialised meeting, with a series of talks focusing upon a civic theme

Our indefatigable secretary Howard, with the shoulders of a Hercules and more hats than the Hydra, has constructed the new EMACHS website:

Search “emachs” on Google, and emachs.wordpress.com will be offered a few sites down — this is the new one, and the more visitors it gets, the sooner it will rise to the top of the options list

  • Members are paying an annual subscription fee

  • Officers are offering their time and advice for free

  • Officers can be asked any specific question (contact details on website)

  • Members can post a general issue on the website or email group

  • Self-service” is the key to a sustainable future for EMACHS

It also need reminding, that EMACHS does give each member society, group membership of: Civic Voice, ASHTAV and Historic Towns Forum

Michael, who owns the Manor House opposite St Mary’s, showed us the section of Roman wall, and a medieval well, in his lovely “roomed” garden

After lunch, as the downpours subsided, Mary gave us a guided tour of this discreetly charming market town. 

And as we passed the old Assembly Rooms, a group of children appeared at the first floor window, evidently attending an afternoon party — and who should be there furiously waving and still pointing us out to his friends…  but the bright little boy !