A year in the life of the BRA

The aims of the Burghfield Residents Association, as stated in the Constitution, is to work for the benefit of the inhabitants of the community and to raise funds for local charities and good causes, predominately through the annual May Fayre.

January sees the beginning of the planning for the following May Fayre. Now in its 26th year there is a well trodden path to follow, but it still takes a dedicated team of hard working committee members to make it happen. In this, the first of the monthly meetings, agreement is reached on who will take responsibility for the management of each one of the many tasks. In some cases the task is managed by a person who has experience having done it before.

In every instance the support from each member of the committee is essential.

On the day of the Fayre over 50 stalls line the Hatch and more are sited in the big marquee. Each one of these stall holders has to be contacted and invoiced. The site has to be planned to ensure stalls are strategically placed to satisfy the stall holder and the visiting public. What events need to be put on in the Arena needs to be discussed and the respective parties contacted. Transport has to be organised to take people to and from the Fayre on the day. Car parking has to be arranged.

The marquees have to be ordered together with all the necessary furniture, bar and catering equipment. The amount of food and drink required is considered with a final decision being made nearer the time when likely weather conditions for the May Fayre weekend are better known.

Recent years have seen the big marquee utilised on both the Friday and Saturday evening and these events have to be planned and carefully organised

Other tasks include arranging for the provision of toilets on the site, insurance, waste collection, road closure etc, not forgetting the formal request to the Parish Council for the hire of the Hatch, without which the Fayre would not take place.

Publicity, banners and posters to publicise the Fayre, the design and printing of raffle tickets and businesses contacted who will advertise in the programme all need to be undertaken. Local schools need to be approached and children asked to prepare paintings, the best of which is selected for the programme cover.

Local papers and radio stations are contacted and given information to be printed or broadcast. Potential sponsors are asked to supply raffle prizes. At the appropriate time in the months leading up to the Fayre in May these and other necessary activities must be effectively completed.

Manpower is a major consideration and needs careful organising. Volunteers for every aspect of the May Fayre Weekend need to be arranged. Some will need training and all of them will need to know exactly what is expected of them to be truly effective.

A meeting is held in each of the months leading up to the May Fayre and each task manager asked to report on progress for his or her particular task. This gives an opportunity to receive help or advice from other committee members if required. In addition to running the meeting it is the Chairman’s responsibility to ensure all is going to plan.

The May fayre weekend is a hectic time with some committee members needing to be around the Hatch in the days leading up to the Fayre when deliveries are being made and the marquees erected. On May Fayre day itself you will find committee members busy across every aspect of the event. Some will be supervising the myriad of helpers around the Hatch, others will be at the Arena events, and of course others manning the BRA tombola and the BRA tent where the raffle is drawn towards the end of the day. When it is all over the clearing up of the site has to be undertaken and the Hatch returned to its former glory.

At the BRA meeting held a few days after the Fayre, results are analysed and any necessary changes discussed that can make improvements for the future. A well earned summer break is then taken with the next meeting being the AGM in September. This is when key committee members can seek re-election and new appointments are made. Application forms are sent to all local charities and worthy causes that have requested a donation be made to them from the profit generated at the May Fayre. At the following monthly meetings these applications are considered and decisions reached on the amount of money, if any, each should receive. Those receiving a donation are contacted and asked to attend the donation ceremony in December when a cheque is presented to them. The public are invited to attend, what is a most moving occasion, as each recipient gives a brief presentation on how the money is to be used, and the benefits it will provide them. So ends another year in the life of the BRA.

Perhaps reading this you have thought ‘I could help with the planning and organising of the annual May Fayre’. If so and you are a resident within the parish of Burghfield, then the BRA would love to hear from you. Contact the secretary tricia.hipwella@btinternet.com

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