The Kipling Society (Registered Charity No. 278885) – Annual Report 2020/21
Address: Bay Tree House, Doomsday Garden, Horsham, West Sussex, RH13 6LB
Trustees at 30 June 2021
Jan Montefiore (Chair and Editor of the Kipling Journal)
Angela Eyre (Deputy Chair)
Alex Bubb (Meetings Secretary)
David Forsyth (Bateman’s Liaison Officer)
Mike Kipling (Secretary and Treasurer)
John Radcliffe (Online Editor and Publicity)
Fiona Renshaw (Membership Secretary)
John Walker (Librarian)
The Society is governed by its Rules, approved by the Charities Commission in 1999 and amended at the AGMs in September 2014 and July 2019.
As set out in the Rules, the objective of the Society is the advancement of public education by the promotion of the study and appreciation of the life and works of Rudyard Kipling.
The main activities in furtherance of this aim are :
(a) to print, publish and issue quarterly (or at such other intervals as the Council of the Society may from time to time determine) a magazine entitled The Kipling Journal devoted to matters of interest to readers and students of Kipling.
(b) to promote and hold lectures, discussions and meetings, and generally to encourage the study of Kipling’s life and writings.
(c) for the purposes of education and study, to maintain a library comprising Kipling’s works, the works of writers on Kipling, and other material (in any form or medium) relating to Kipling.
(d) to provide speakers on Kipling’s life and works for suitable functions organised otherwise than by the Society
(e) to employ any electronic or other form of information technology to store, process or provide information about Kipling, the Society and its activities.
(f) to give assistance and advice regarding Kipling’s life and works and on the organisation of any suitable function dealing with them.
In pursuing these objectives, the Trustees have had due regard to Charity Commission guidance on public benefit.
Achievements and performance
Individual members: As of 15 June, there were 400 individual members, a net increase of 17 overall since July of last year. Over the course of the year we have welcomed 50 new members and a total of 33 existing members have left the Society for a variety of reasons. (See the table on the next page for a year-on-year comparison.) The new student membership category, introduced in July of last year, has attracted 7 new members to the Society so far.
Corporate members: The current total is 64, down 8 overall since July of last year. One new corporate member joined the Society last year but 9 universities, all based in North America, failed to renew their subscriptions in December for 2021 without explanation and have not responded to further invitations to do so.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, all Society meetings were held on-line. Five speaker meetings were held, three of which were addressed by speakers from overseas. Attendees included a number of our overseas members, and it is intended to continue to allow attendance on-line when in-person meetings resume. Five on-line reading events were also held, at which members read a short piece of Kipling’s writing, often accompanied by a brief commentary. Members were also welcome simply to listen. These events proved popular, and we plan to continue to hold two per year in future years.
For the second year in succession, it was not possible to hold an annual luncheon. However, in June 2021, as pandemic restrictions began to be lifted, a dinner was held jointly with the Honourable Artillery Company at their premises in London at which Professor Ian Beckett spoke on ‘Revisiting Mr Kipling’s Army’
Four excellent editions of the Journal were produced, including one on the theme of ‘Rudyard Kipling and Religion’. Eight editions of the e-mail newsletter were produced, which continued to be sent by post to those members without e-mail addresses for the duration of the pandemic.
The Society’s website has been given a more attractive appearance and a number of new pages added following the recommendations of a committee of Council. Less obviously, we are well-advanced on work to convert the website to a WordPress platform, which will enable additional features to be added in future and allow future maintenance of the site to be shared across a number of honorary officers, although some professional support will still be needed. The number of visitors to the site in the year to May 31st 2021 was just over 98,000 – some 270 a day – in comparison with 80,000 the previous year. There continue to be some 1000 visitors a month to the New Readers’ Guide pages. The total number of users since launch in May 1999 is over 1.5m.
Our Facebook page continues to attract lively interest, By the end of June 2021 we will have offered almost 120 suggestions for ‘Verse of the Week’, currently received by nearly 600 people worldwide. Each entry provides links to the New Readers’ Guide, for the text and the notes, and there is often a link to sites offering spoken or sung versions of the piece. There are also over 100 regular users of the Mailbase discussion group.
Although it was not possible to run a school essay competition again, the first John McGivering competition for writers of any age was held. The brief was poems on the theme of travel which also engaged with Kipling. 64 entries were received, all of a very high standard. It was no easy matter for the judges to select the winners, and the first prize was awarded jointly. The winning entries will be published in the September 2021 number of the Journal, after which we will put the winning poems up on our website.
The Society’s Accounts are prepared in respect of Calendar years. Those for 2020 were published in the June 2021 edition of the Kipling Journal. The Society’s net assets increased by around £2,000 in the year to December 2020. This was largely due to reduced costs from not holding physical meetings, but also because of a legacy of £1,000 from the estate of the late John McGivering. Expenditure on the website increased, being the first part of the planned future-proofing which will continue in 2021.
The Society’s investments are mainly held in three charity term accounts with United Trust Bank, maturing in 2021 and 2022. A further amount remains in a CCLA charity account where it is instantly accessible.
There has been no material change to the Society’s financial position since 31 December 2020.
At 31 December 2020, the Society held as earmarked reserves amounts of £2,904 and £18,997 being respectively the balances of donations made by former members John Slater and Eileen Stamers-Smith. These funds are earmarked respectively for the financing of children’s writing competitions and public lectures relating to Rudyard Kipling.
The Eileen Stamers-Smith Memorial Lecture Fund was not used in 2020. The John Slater Essay Competition Fund was used to provide an award to a school which ran a children’s writing competition based on the Just So stories.
The Society also had general reserves of £47,093 amounting to around three years of expenditure at normal levels. The Trustees have not specified a particular target for general reserves and are content either for them to remain around current levels or to gradually reduce should appropriate uses be found for their expenditure.