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Year Ending 31st December 2000

City of Sunderland Millennium Orchestral Society

Established October 1999    Charity Registration Number 1082431

  The Executive Committee has great pleasure in presenting the FIRST Annual Report of the Society.

The Vision

  The City of Sunderland Council invited each Ward of the City to celebrate the Millennium in a manner of its own choosing, and provided a sum of 2000.00 for each Ward for this purpose. Councillors John Lennox, Win Lundgren and Mark Greenfield of the Thornholme Ward felt that a more permanent mark of the Millennium was desirable than, for example, the holding of a street party. Thus was born the idea of forming a Symphony Orchestra for the City.

Early Days

  Following preliminary discussions, a Public Meeting was held on  Friday 1st October 1999, at which a decision was made to form an Orchestral Society, with a view to forming a full Symphony Orchestra for the City within five years. The following appointments were made: Chairman/Secretary- John Lennox; Treasurer - John Allen; Musical Director - Rupert Hanson. Regular meetings were then held on Monday nights to plan the way ahead. It was agreed that the West Park United Reformed Church should be the headquarters for practices and concerts, due to the excellent location adjacent to the Transport Interchange, and the availability of suitable accommodation. The first concert 'Welcome to Christmas' was a 'Thank You' to the West Park authorities, and was closely followed by the first major concert, both held in the church. All regular attenders at meetings up to Christmas were given membership cards and the status of 'Founder Member'. No membership fees were requested.

First Annual General Meeting and Executive Committee

  At the first A.G.M. on 27th. March 2000, a constitution was approved and a committee appointed.

  Chairman - David E. Mills; Vice-Chairman - Mrs. Brenda McCluskey Resigned January 2001; Correspondence Secretary - Miss Louise Pickering Resigned September 2000; Treasurer - Mrs. Pamela Jones Resigned August 2000; Membership Secretary - Mrs. Sheila Hannay Resigned November 2000; P .R. & Publicity - Rupert W. Hanson; Fund Raiser - No appointment; Minutes Secretary - Miss Charlotte Bagley Post not taken up; Holding Trustees - John A. Lennox, Mark Greenfield, Mrs. Win Lundgren, Rev. Steven Orange.

  The Committee took a little while to settle down and fully grasp the responsibilities and commitment of the various posts. As expected, a number of changes of personnel occurred. The Committee is in no hurry to fill the vacancies, being prepared to wait until the right people can be found. During the year, Miss Heather Peel and Ian Alderson were co-opted on to the committee:- Heather subsequently became Membership Secretary and Ian became Orchestra Manager: Mrs. Kathleen Mills took over as Treasurer. It is hoped that eventually, the Committee will be composed largely of non-playing members of the Society, enabling the musicians to concentrate on playing.


  It was decided not to INSIST on a membership fee for the first year, but to INVITE one; 10.00 for Members: 25.00 for Patrons: any higher sums for Sponsors. The Society thus had three sponsors, five patrons and thirty five members. About thirty two regular attenders and players elected not to contribute. For the year Jan - Dec 2001 each 'MEMBER' has received a written request for a membership fee and it is hoped that all will pay. In the future, reminders will go out in December for the following year. A suggestion that a weekly subscription be paid was not initially followed up. Membership fees at the current level are not sufficient to cover the basic running costs of the Society. Major funding during the year came from three sponsors - Ford North-East Dealers, The City of Sunderland Council and the Lee Sykes National Centre. These generous donations are gratefully acknowledged. The Society continues to seek sponsorship/funding from a number of sources.


  The Elders and Members of West Park Church have made the Society very welcome and have bent over backwards to accommodate our needs, and have given us the sole use of a room on the premises. We gratefully acknowledge the excellent relationship which has developed between the Society and the Church.

The Year's Programme

  Two concerts were given by the full orchestra (average 60 players). For those concerts, a number of experienced musicians were 'bought in'. The remaining 21 performances were all given entirely by our own members. This was an outstanding achievement and the Society acknowledges the drive and enthusiasm of the Musical Director in achieving this outstanding programme. A full list of venues and details is attached. In addition the Society sponsored visits by the Burnt Hickory Youth Choir from America, and from the Hetton Silver Band. Eight outdoor performances in Roker and Mowbray Parks, together with the concerts in Auckland Castle and Morpeth provided good publicity and income.

Fund-Raising for Others

  The concert in the Empire Theatre enabled 1200.00 to be given to the R.N.L.I. The Morpeth concert raised money for 'Breakthrough' and the Auckland Castle concert raised money for the North-East Christmas Appeal of the Salvation Army (Every seat sold).

Asylum Seekers

  Links have been established with the asylum seekers resident in the town and two concerts were played at the Park Hotel for their benefit. Several members of this community now meet with the Society and are showing interest in learning to play instruments. Two gentlemen from Iran have regularly been our 'roadies' helping to move music stands, move furniture etc.

Practice Nights

  Practice night was changed from Monday to Wednesday during the year, and this has resulted in an overall increase in the number of playing members.


  Early on in the year, an Academy was established to train and encourage young musicians. From the start, this was intended to be self-funding but unfortunately income was significantly lower than expenditure. The problems were identified, and have been addressed and a similar situation will not arise again. Numbers attending were not as numerous as had been hoped for, there being an average attendance of seven to eight rather than the hoped for attendance of forty to forty five.

Registration as a Charity

  Formalities were completed during the year with The Charity Commissioners, and the Society became a Registered Charity on 20/09/00 with a Registration number 1082431. In order to achieve this status the constitution needed changing and so a Special General Meeting had to be called to approve the required alterations.

David E. Mills, Rupert W. Hanson ,
Kathleen A. Mills, Heather E. Peel, Ian Alderson

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Copyright 2010 D E Mills