The Annual General Meeting was help on 19th March 2024 at the Haven Centre, as usual attendees were furnished with a glass of fizz/orange juice and settled in for an eventful evening. 

The meeting kicked off with Andrew Metcalfe, now entering his fifth year in the position, welcoming everyone and providing a report on the last year. He started off by thanking everyone who had helped with CDRA activities over the past year and for those who attended the meeting for coming. He said " is only with the support of everyone involved that the CDRA can do what it does. Our membership continues to grow and the organisation stronger."

He provided an update on events held in 2023/24 including the CDRA Easter Egg Hunt, CDRA Gig on the Green, Crawley Down Village Fayre, Christmas Lights Switch On, Christmas Tree Trail, and the visit from Stanta. All of which were a roaring success despite certain challenges faced which the committee collectively overcame.

He went on to talk about the coming year, and how the committee cannot wait to see the smiles on peoples faces at the scheduled events. 

These events would be enhanced now the village green is now equipped with an electricity supply, something we have been seeking for several years and he expressed the communities collective thanks to the Parish Council, and Creative Spark for organising this. Most events will no longer need to be supported by noisy and dirty generators.

The last year was not without some hurdles organising events. These hurdles were particularly prevalent for the Gig on the Green as the committee grappled with the best way to run the event safely, which meant introducing certain safety measures. The resulting event was not only family friendly and a safe space for children, but it also ran without incident. The now established model for the event will be duplicated this year, building on last year’s success.

Politically, committee representatives attended several Parish Council meetings over the last year in the run up to events and I am pleased to report that our Councillors are supporting the CDRA wherever possible. The committee look forward to working with them over the next year to deliver for our community. The Chair also let everyone know that they have a presence on the Parish Council's Crawley Down Working Party. 

The Chairman confirmed that the CDRA has added to their jobs, by taking on the Crawley Down Christmas Lights, and we have the challenging task of taking them forward. The committee cannot wait to get to drips with this and there are plans to invest in this so that our village centre remains a destination at Christmas.

He finished his update with a dose of realism. He stated that whilst the bank balance is healthy, a considerable sum of money needs to be raised over the next 12 months to cover anticipated costs. For this to happen we will continue to seek grant funding from all possible avenues for our activities, seek event sponsors, and charge modest fees to participate – always giving our members a reduced rate. 

The treasurer Hannah Monnier then provided a financial update. The closing balance just over £33,000 which is an increase of £5,000 on last year. Over the year equipment was purchased including new card readers, high vis jackets, and a new gazebo. Membership continues to increase, up by over 100 over the last year to 516 households. In terms of events, we have surplus funds from the Village Fayre and CDRA Gig on the Green of £3,500, which was invested into the Christmas Lights Switch on Event (we funded the big wheel). 

This year coming, a budget of £10,000 has been allocated to invest in the Christmas lights, we are also investing in a trailer for storage and transport to/from events – this is a cost of approx. £7,000. All our costs are expected to rise again with anticipated expenditure in the region of £71.5k. We have a target to raise £61k to offset the majority of this through event fees, sponsorship, pitch fees, grants, and sales at events. 

Following the updates, there was a series of questions from the floor which prompted a number of discussions between the committee and those who were there. It was great for the committee to have dialogue with those attending, it both helped them understand what mattered to those who were there but also provided an opportunity to explain the committees thinking behind a number of decisions made over the year. 

The event wrapped up and was a great success... onwards to 2024!