The 2020 Stempra AGM was the Association’s first one held online. It was great to see so many faces on video after many of us had been working from home for a week. Thank you to all of those who logged on to join us this year – there were almost 30 of you. And we will stick to our promise to host a party once restrictions have been lifted.
Stempra’s chair, Rob Dawson, kicked off the meeting with an update on what the committee has achieved over the last year. Stempra held several successful events covering a wide range of topics, including how to target younger audiences and exploring the evolving role of the press officer. Non-portfolio committee member, Jo Kelly, maintained our presence outside of London this year with a great event at the University of Birmingham which included sessions on working with journals and pitching to journalists.
Our three years of funding for the Press Officer Training Day from BEIS came to an end last year and Rob spent a lot of time finding new ways to fund this day in the future. BEIS has agreed to support us in 20/21, as has the NIHR and we’re looking forward to working with both again in the coming year. We are also in early discussions with the Wellcome Trust on how we can work together in the future and we will share more details on this at a later date.
Stempra’s newsletter saw record high engagement levels at the end of last year while membership numbers remain steady at just over 500.
Rob’s update was followed by an update from our treasurer Daisy Barton who explained that while the Stempra accounts for 2019 were technically in loss, this was due to delays in receiving two large payments (for the 2019 Press Officers’ Training Day and membership payments made by Paypal). Both of these outstanding payments were resolved in early 2020 and Stempra’s finances are now in great shape. We had an underspend on events in 2019, largely thanks to the support of the Science Media Centre and the University of Birmingham.
The extra income we have from this underspend and the increased membership fee will be invested in the website. As part of this redevelopment, we would like to create a members’ access area of the website where we can collate information from members that might help other members.
We welcomed seven new members to the committee this year who will join as non-portfolio members: Joshua Gardner, Kathryn Ingham, Pip Strafford, Rebecca Zeitlin, Hannah Taylor Lewis, Beth Baker and Shane Canning. We now have a bigger committee than normal but with an increasing membership and additional representation outside of London, the committee and the membership agreed on this approach.
And sadly, we are saying goodbye to Fiona Lethbridge, Tom Bragg, Corin Campbell and Kate McAllister this year but we are sure they will continue to be involved in Stempra’s activities.
We are looking forward to forming our new committee and we will continue to work remotely in the coming weeks. Thank you for joining us and we will see you all for a drink very soon.