|Haul from the East of England Co-op AGM|
Move over Sadiq Khan.
(Although, congratulations on becoming London Mayor and all that).
In this corner of Suffolk, the election results we were waiting for last weekend were for…drum roll please…the East of England Co-op board.
I’d put myself up for election to become a member of the board (as blogged here), so I went along to the AGM in Wherstead to find out my fate.
My chances weren’t exactly high, given there were 31 people standing for only 5 roles. However, I was glad that someone I knew (hello Sharon!) was also standing. I’ve never put myself up for election for anything before, so it all felt very odd and it was good to share the experience. Sharon and her husband Jim also kindly came to my rescue by giving me a lift over to the meeting.
On arrival, the assembled Co-op members were presented with badges on lanyards, copies of the annual report, and then let loose to fortify themselves with tea and biscuits.
It was a fun day, complete with stands by some of the “Sourced Locally” producers stocked by the Co-op. We got stuck in to the serious role of sampling their wares, from cake to chocolate, crisps and paté to apple juice.
|A fine array from Wendy’s House Cakes, next to Dan Hull and his prepared foods|
|Plenty of chocs from Hadleigh Maid|
|Fairfield crisps with Havensfield Happy Hens behind|
We also got the chance to chat to assembled senior staff, write pearls of wisdom on Post-It notes for the “Ideas Wall”, and visit stands about the good works funded by the Co-op including dementia outreach and the Activ Sheds project.
|Colourful stall about Activ Sheds|
I was particularly pleased to see some Green Shield Stamps on one of the stands, after a discussion when my mother insisted that the Green Shield Stamps I remembered from childhood were actually from Fine Fare not the Co-op.
When my sister and I were very small, my mother would push us in the big pram to the nearest shop and return clasping Green Shield Stamps which I got to stick (with great concentration) into a little book.
Now I’m just amused that they were recreated for the stall about dementia…
|See- Green Shield Stamps WERE from the Co-op!|
Then we were whisked away to assorted workshops, with a choice of finding out more about things like the producers or the work on dementia.
Apart from anything else, it was great to see parts of Wherstead House, which is quite spectacular.
|Wherstead Park – somehow my offices have never looked quite like this|
I opted for the workshop on “How your business is doing”, with plenty of powerpoint, stats and discussion about the success of different Co-op businesses.
It generated assorted questions about Post Offices in Co-op branches, social housing, the ethics (or otherwise) of auditors, executive pay and apprentice schemes. I even got to ask about the hefty margins on the funeral business. It was all go, I’m telling you.
Afterwards, I was whisked away by my husband and children (clutching packets of Fairfield Farm crisps) to a family golden wedding celebration.
But everyone else got to return to the main atrium for a the official AGM, a free lunch and the long-awaited election results.
And in the end…I singularly failed to get elected. I would have loved the chance to unite my passions for food and retailing, and help the Co-op remain a successful business at the heart of our local community, but it wasn’t to be.
However, I remain extremely grateful to anyone who did vote for me. I was particuarly glad to get more than the three votes I feared, and ended up coming 8th (results here).
Looking on the bright side, I was pipped to the post by four directors standing for re-election, two Co-op employees, and a glamorous BBC Look East local news reporter. So I don’t feel I did too badly within a panel of some cracking candidates.
There’s always next year…
Anyone else make it to the Co-op AGM? Or stood for election and survived to tell the tale? I’d love to hear your experiences.