by the Earl of Erroll
Recent years have brought many changes for Clan Hay in terms of the nature and scope of our activities, particularly as advances in technology have fundamentally affected the way we do business and what our members expect from us. Consequently, there was much to discuss last month when the office bearers of Clan Hay headquarters met with me at the House of Lords to discuss how the society should respond to the 21st century.
The meeting included the secretary Melissa Cubitt, our treasurer Pam Rotheroe-Hay, archivist Alan Hay, and commissioner Malcolm Hay of Seaton, who joined us by Skype from his home in Aberdeenshire. Unfortunately Jonathan Sayers and membership secretary Margaret Spender were unable to be present, although they were with us in spirit.
We began with a discussion of our membership, which is in a healthy state despite these recessionary times, and had a good brainstorming session about how to handle the issue that several international members only support their local branch rather than the Clan Hay Society itself. This becomes a challenge when such members hope to enjoy our hospitality and help when they visit Britain or draw upon other central services. We greatly value those members who reside on countries abroad and are committed to working with them to provide the value they need to persuade them back into the fold.
The cost of servicing members has risen inexorably with the passage of time and it is many years since the society last increased its annual subscription. Accordingly, we reluctantly decided to increase the subscription from £7.50 sterling to £10.00 per annum with effect from January 1st 2012 which, with careful management, will maintain the society on an even financial keel whilst keeping membership open to all Hays, whatever their circumstances.
We benefited some years ago from the generosity of the late Miss Edith Hay who left a useful sum to the society which has since been held on deposit. With interest rates at their lowest in living memory, this legacy is not performing in the way it should, so we have appointed McInroy and Wood, an investment management firm based in East Lothian, to advise us on how to make the most of this important asset. A finance committee has been appointed to take responsibility for our investments, consisting of the Chief, the Commissioner and the Treasurer.
With investment income at an all time low and mindful of looking after our members’ interests by keeping the subscription affordable for all, there was some discussion of how to develop other sources of income for the Clan Hay Society. One way to achieve this is to offer more merchandise relating to Clan Hay via our website (www.clanhay.org). We will continue to stock the Hay and Hunting Hay tartans in reproduction colours, material which is available only from the Clan Hay Society and which members may purchase at cost price. Furthermore, we will shortly be able to offer a much wider range of goods via the website and at the Clan Hay tent at Aboyne, and we should be able to include glassware and Clan Hay branded whisky.
Isabelle and I very much enjoyed entertaining Clan Hay at our home in July and it has been agreed that this will become an annual fixture. Feedback from other successful events indicates that these are popular with members, so we will be arranging a much wider programme of events in the months and years to come, both to provide funds for the society and to add value to our members’ subscriptions. In particular, a more extensive itinerary will be available around Clan Hay’s annual gathering at the Aboyne Games in Aberdeenshire next year and in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden in 2013. Keep an eye on this website for full details as they become available.
The annual Clan Hay Journal continues to be our most important vehicle for communicating with Hays across the world and it now has a new Editor in Pam Rotheroe-Hay, who takes over from the next edition which will appear in March 2012. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to Jonathan Sayers who brought much to the role and who is appointed to the new position of Overseas Editor, in which capacity he will be the main link between Clan Hay in Scotland and her diaspora abroad. Additionally, we shortly hope to follow the lead of our cousins in the United States and continental Europe by launching an e-newsletter as a more regular and accessible vehicle for Hays to communicate with each other.
This was a constructive meeting which went on far longer than any of us intended. However, I firmly believe it has set the scene for a new and dynamic phase in the Clan Hay Society’s life and I, for one, feel that we may advance with confidence towards a bright future.