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in 2012 it was agreed that our minutes could be published here for the benefit of members and other interested parties.

2017 Annual General Meeting of the Illustrious Order of Fools and Beasts.

October 29th, Church Eaton Village Institute, Church Eaton, Stafford ST20 0AG.


1)      Attendance and Apologies

a)      Present: Robert Chisman, Trigg, (Convener); Julian Kohler, Plymouth, (Squire); John Edwards, Stafford, (Webmaster and Minutes Secretary); Peter de Courcy, Kennet, (Membership Secretary); Ethan Armes, Trigg; Peter Austin, Jockey; Greg Bramwell, Yateley; John Burke, King John’s; Rob Collyer; Clive Cowx, Dolphin; Gavin Davison, Ripley; Iain Davison, Lassington Oak; Clive Du Mont, Whitchurch; Jed Dunn, Wyvern Jubilee; Douglas Herdson, Plymouth; Jenny Howard, John Ide, Grimsby; J Jeffey, Plymouth; Henning Koeford, The Maypole Man; Christina Pritchard, Red Stags, Jack Smee, Kennet; John Stait, Jockey; Clive Sturgess, Ripley;

b)      Apologies: Jack Brown, Roger Comley, Chris Chisman, John Clifford, Glen Close, Charlie Corcoran, Mike Frost, Max Haynes, John Jenner, Dave Leister, Glen Osborne, Paul Reece, Roger Ward, Verna & Stephen Wass, Kim Woodward.

2)      Minutes of Last Meeting

a)      The 2016 minutes were available at the meeting and had been published on the F&B Web site since shortly after the meeting. They were deemed to be a true record. (Proposed by Clive S, Seconded by Jeff J).
                [Iain Davison congratulated the Order on spelling both his names right for the first time ever.]

3)      Matters Arising

a)      There were no matters arising that would not be on the agenda.

4)      Officers’ Reports:

a)      Squire’s Report

i)        Julian’s report consisted in a reaffirmation that he was still alive. This was subject to a debate on the grounds that he had been uncommon quiet during the weekend; however, it was eventually accepted.

b)      Convener’s Report

i)        Communications

(a)    It was noted that e-mails being sent out via Mail Chimp had not been received by everyone. Possibly messages were being screened as spam, but the e-mails of those concerned were confirmed to the convener.

(b)   Robert had had a difficult year but the F&B paperwork was now organised.

ii)      Events

(a)    Knotty and Trigger had attended the JMO Meeting in Leicester. Operating in their normal itinerant fashion they had encountered many new sides, met a lot of familiar sides and spoken to several fools and beasts, but that had not yet had any effect on new members for the Order.

(b)   Robert had not been able to attend the Ring ARM, but Peter de Coursy and Roger Comley were present. There was evidently little that transpired which would have any impact on F&B

(c)    Robert had not been able to attend either the Open or Federation AGMs. Since Kim and John C had become less involved with the Open Morris, we were getting little feedback on their AGM or activities.

(d)   Similar remarks applied to the Federation AGM; however Sam Ross had included information about the last Unconvention in her report. Jenny noted that although she was not currently a member of a Fed Side, she could attend as a member of IOFB.

(e)   The Convener, with Trigg and Plymouth, had attended the Ravensbourne ring meeting and noted the exceptional reception they had received on the South Bank. Ratass had also found himself the centre of much attention. There was some discussion about the practicality of F&B going for a similar day of dance. Trigger would investigate further, but it was felt that the IOFB would have quite an impact with the London crowds. Robert would investigate further, but previous attempts to hold Unconventions in London had been prohibitively expensive.

(f)     The Sidmouth “Horse of the Year Show” had been an enjoyable event with Ratass taking the top prize, much to the chagrin of Trigger. This was especially galling as Julian had been the Judge.

iii)    2017 Unconvention

(a)    Robert took the opportunity to thank John for taking on the organisation for this Unconvention, when other offers failed to materialise. There was general consensus that the event was well organised and enjoyable. Five people who were expected did not arrive, three due to illness and two for unknown reasons. That made things difficult and resulted in unnecessary expenses so we might have to have commitment and payment earlier in future.

(b)   He particularly thanked Carol for the excellent catering at the weekend. Many positive remarks were made about the superb food. He also thanked those who had assisted with the kitchen work, notably Christine Burke and Christina Pritchard. However, there was a special mention for the great job done by our newcomer, Greg Bramwell, who had worked tirelessly during the weekend. Sadly, Rachel Haynes, who intended to assist, had broken her arm and was unable to do so.

iv)    Accounts

The accounts were presented for 2016 and a copy is appended.

The 2016 Unconvention had made a slight profit, but the bank balance was down by some £400 to £682. However, there was a substantial amount of stock including £271 spent on Badges.

Only one item gave cause for concern, namely the payment of £25 to the Federation for an advert in their publication. It was thought that paying for their own events was wrong, but in any case the evidence was that no additional members or delegates to Unconventions had resulted. In future, any input to the publication should be by way of reports or articles for which there is no charge.

There was some discussion about on-line sales and making items available via the Morris Shop. Robert would discuss this with Sean in due course.

The Unconvention fees had remained constant for several years and to date had broken more or less even. However, John Ide remarked that maybe it was time to apply an increase, especially if we were going to expensive parts of the country. That way we would not be reliant on collections or shop sales to plug the deficit.

Overall, the accounts were accepted unanimously.

c)       Membership Secretary’s Report

Mr de Courcy will update the list of members, when he receives the new members record from Trigger. This will include both newly accredited or associate members and regrettably identifying others as deceased, or having no further interest in the organisation.

Unfortunately, as with other Morris communications there are frequently no responses and it is not known whether bagmen pass on the details to their fools or beasts.

This led on to discussion about how we could improve contacts to get more members. It seemed that the only way was by personal contact. However, if it was possible to send messages directly to the characters, we may get through. Perhaps addressing the letters to ‘the fool or beast’ or marking it for their attention may work. Jenny noted that there were relatively few fools in Federation sides. Those with sufficient interest would probably find out about our organisation themselves.

Various members had talked to potential candidates at festivals and JMO events, but this had had little effect on increased numbers..

Knotty reported that Jack Brown had just celebrated his 90th birthday and was still playing an active part as the Stafford Fool. [Jack deeply regretted that he had had a ‘Nonagenarian moment’ and forgotten about this event until it was too late.]

Peter had brought the scrap books and photo albums to this event and they had proved interesting to delegates. As with other archive material it was difficult to make them available to a wider public.

d)      Webmaster’s Report

John reported that there had been a significant number of hits on the web site although it was difficult to know who they were or what their interest was. He felt that the web site was basically a reference source, as Facebook, twitter and the like were nowadays providing more immediate reports and pictures of events. Most people can post to social media while compiling a web site is much more complex.

There was discussion about the format and content of the web site and, as usual, the webmaster pointed out that it was not his personal site and he would welcome any input of content or ideas to make it more attractive. Any pictures for the fools or beasts galleries would be particularly welcome.

Various people in the room commented that they had found articles and information on the site interesting and useful. That was pleasing, because there is seldom any feedback on the relevance of the site to members or the public. Peter de Courcy recommended the Workshop Notes available online, which came as a surprise to many.

The Facebook page seemed to be a valuable resource, although a significant number of members never used it and others viewed it only occasionally. Unsurprisingly, younger members made use of social media more than most, but few people had time for IOFB Twitter, or any of the other systems. You Tube was felt to be a useful medium, but again it relied on uploads from members to give us publicity. There are not many F&B clips.

e)      There were no reports from any of the Morris Organisations; Ring, Federation or Open.

5)      Future events

a)      The 2018 JMO day of dance would be on May 19th in Peterborough. It would be hosted by Crosskey Clog on behalf of the Open Morris. No details were available, but individual Fools or Beasts would be welcome. A number of people present intended to go, but some would be committed to their own sides for the day. As usual the IOFB would cater for miscellaneous characters who wished to attend and do their own thing!

b)      It was expected that the Horse of the Year event would again take place during Sidmouth Festival, (3-10 August 2018); although the unbiased judge told Ratass that he would not win again!

c)       Simon Pipe, who danced out on the Saturday tour was endeavouring to obtain funds to reinstate the Banbury Hobby Horse Festival. That was a very successful and enjoyable event for some years until it was subsumed in local politics. Details will be published if and when it happens.

d)      Future Unconventions.

(1)    It looks like there will be hosts for the next few years

(2)    2018 Lassington Oak at Gloucester

(3)    2019 London

(4)    2020 Plymouth in conjunction with the “Mayflower” commemorations.

(5)    2021 Stratford on Avon

(6)    2022 (Maybe Jed’s new pub will be available – near Leominster

6)      Appointment of Officers.

a)      Squire
Julian Kohler was, (as reported above), still alive so it was unnecessary to appoint a new Squire. Not that anyone wanted the job, although there were thought to be certain benefits in taking the credit for other people’s hard work.

b)      Convener
The general consensus that Robert and Trigger were a good team as Scrivener, Convener and Treasurer although trigger’s spelling and handwriting left something to be desired. Nobody asked if they agreed to continue, but with no other nominations they were reappointed.

c)       Membership and Web/Minutes
Peter de Courcy was reappointed as Membership Secretary and John Edwards was reappointed as Webmaster/Minutes secretary, because neither could think of good enough reasons to resign

7)      Membership of the Order - New Members

a)      The newly accredited members who were inducted at the feast, Ethan Ames and Greg Bramwell were formally welcomed. As was Christine Burke who was made an associate member for playing during the Saturday tour.

b)      There had been no application from overseas characters this year.

c)       Discussion about recruitment of new members is reported above, but those present felt we should particularly encourage younger people who had shown an interest in our activities. It was noted that the Ring had a fund to support young dancers and it was though that the federation also had some such scheme. Robert would investigate this with a view to subsidising younger potential members.

8)      Confirmation or amendments to the Constitution and Child Protection Policy.

a)      As last year, The Constitution was confirmed. It was really to define our objectives for third parties, including potential sponsors.

b)       The Order’s Child Protection Policy currently based on that of the Open Morris would continue as such. (It is seldom applicable although in the current litigation society we need to beware of it.)

c)       A number of members present had relevant CRB Clearance which may help if needed.

d)      Knotty noted that as far as vulnerable adults were concerned, his and Trigger’s experience with numerous such people at Leicester resulted in remarkably positive interactions.

e)      The Ring and Open had issued a joint statement about blackened faces and racism. However most of our costumes are so outlandish that it is not clear what races could be offended.

9)        Any other business.

a)      Again there was an enquiry about the professional photographs taken at an earlier Unconvention and those taken by The Daily Telegraph photographer. Nobody had any information, but it was hoped they would be available somewhere.

b)       The meeting closed at 11.25 a.m. so that delegates could clear up and drive to Stafford Market Square ready to dance from 12.30 to 13.30.

Compiled by John Edwards and Knotty.

2nd November 2017


2016 Annual General Meeting of the Illustrious Order of Fools and Beasts

October 28th, Caryford Community Hall, Ansford, Castle Cary, Somerset, BA7 7JJ

1    Attendance and Apologies

Present: Robert Chisman, Trigg, (Convener); Julian Kohler, Plymouth, (Squire); John Edwards, Stafford, (Webmaster and Minutes Secretary); Peter de Courcy, Kennet, (Membership Secretary); Peter Austin, Jockey; Mark Bailey, Exeter; Chris Bearfoot,  Ravensbourne; Mike Bloxsome, Chanctonbury Ring; John Burke, King John’s; John Clifford; Clive Cook, East Suffolk; Gavin Davison, Ripley; Iain Davison, Lassington Oak; Jed Dunn, Wyvern Jubilee; Mike Frost, Plymouth; Andy Hall, Wyvern Jubilee; Anthony Heywood, Red Cuthbert; John Ide, Grimsby; J. Jeffey, Plymouth; Cliff Marchant, Chanctonbury Ring; Jan Mondrzbjewski, Ravensbourne; James Oram, Exeter; Christina Pritchard, Red Stags, Sam Ross, Morris Federation; Jack Smee, Kennet; John Stait, Jockey; Clive Sturgess, Ripley; Keith Wilson, Peterborough; Kim Woodward.


Apologies: Jack Brown, Roger Comley, Chris Chisman, Max Haynes, Douglas Herdson, Jenny Howard, John Jenner, Henning Koeford, Paul Reece, Roger Ward, Stephen and Verna Wass,

    2    Minutes of Last Meeting

The 2015 minutes were available at the meeting and had been published on the F&B Web site since shortly after the meeting. One correction was required: Clive Cook is East Suffolk, not Bedford.

They were otherwise deemed to be a true record. (Proposed by Christina, Seconded by Jed).

   3    Matters Arising

There were no matters arising that would not be on the agenda, other than the above correction.

4.     Officers Reports:

a.     Squire’s Report

Julian’s report was normal in its brevity simply confirming that he was still alive.

b.     Convener’s Report

Robert had managed to get the F&B paperwork organised now that he had settled into his new home. However, losing his electricity supply on Friday morning had not helped him prepare for the meeting.

It had also become evident that numerous e-mails had not arrived, leading to discussion about improving communications. Sam suggested the use of MailChimp that does not restrict the number of messages that can be sent. It was agreed to investigate this.

Robert and Trigger had attended the Ring ARM, (reported later).

The convener had also attended the JMO Meeting in York, as had John Ide with Stanley and John and Kim with Dennis. It was and enjoyable event, but did little to find us new members. However, it was good to have a presence at these meetings.

Robert had not been able to attend the Open or Federation AGMs.

The new membership certificates first used last year were available and should any existing accredited member wish to have a replacement a payment of £2 to Robert would secure one.

The stock of badges, etc. was available and the details would be posted on the F&B Web site.

c.      Accounts

After last year’s problems Robert had been able to submit the accounts for the year 2015 -2016. However, the resolution made in 2015 to change the financial year to end on 30th September had not been implemented.

The accounts are appended to these minutes, but the increase in net funds over the past year was £272.13 giving a current balance in the bank of £775.51.

The unconvention, which is the principal expense, would alter this considerably, but it was expected to at least break even. The collections during the day looked good due mainly to the generosity of the people at Wells.

There was considerable money tied up in Stock, with an estimated retail value of £1,326.

d.     Membership Secretary’s Report

Mr de Courcy had been updating the spreadsheet of members, both with newly accredited or associate members and regrettably identifying others as deceased, or having no further interest in the organisation.

He mentioned particularly Roy Dommett, whose contribution to the Morris in many aspects, including the Fools & Beasts had been quite exceptional.

As usual, there was discussion about how to keep the membership list up to date. Peter could only do that if he was informed. Although as the Ring webmaster, he was in receipt of much information, members were urged to ensure that their details were correct.

The idea mooted earlier to charge a nominal sum for membership to assist with this was deemed too difficult to administer.

e.      Webmaster’s Report

John reported that there was evidence of a steady number of hits on the web site around 200 per month. Many of these would have been from automated systems, but they do not stay to look at other pages, so the site seems to be serving a worthwhile purpose.

(Various people in the room commented that they had found articles and information on the site useful. That is gratifying as one never knows who reads the web pages that are produced.)

As usual John stated that it is not his web site and asked for contributions from members.

To some extent the Facebook page reduces the need for photographs on the web site, but it is rather more ephemeral. The web site acts as a reference so any data about the Order needs to be accurate and again members were asked to supply any additions or corrections to the webmaster.

The 2015 discussion about the inclusion of something on beast construction had not yet been implemented, but would be reviewed shortly.

Sam Ross noted that the web site did not give much idea of what took place at an Unconvention. The webmaster agreed to add some information to the next update. (done)

 5   Event Reports:          

a.   Morris Ring ARM

Robert and John E had attended the Ring ARM, where delegates were informed of the activities of the Illustrious Order. However, there were few items which related specifically to fools and beasts. Adam Garland (East Suffolk beast) continued as Ring Squire and Eddie Worrall of Saddleworth was elected as his successor. Peter de Coursey noted that one significant change was that dance meetings would be coordinated via the Ring bagman rather than directly by the organising clubs. Hence any individuals wishing to attend should use that route.

b.  Federation AGM

There was no specific representation by the order at the Fed AGM, but there was apparently nothing of particular relevance to Fools and Beasts. As last year, Christina noted that characters were mainly associated with Cotswold style and many Federation sides followed other styles of Morris.

c.   Open Morris AGM

Kim had not had active involvement with the Open since last year and there was evidently a lot of reorganisation of the management to bring it back under control. Kim still retained her Life membership.

d.  JMO National Day of Dance, York

Other than the aspect mentioned in the Convener’s Report, there was little more to say about this event.

e.   The 2017 JMO day of dance would be on May 13th in Leicester. It would be hosted by Leicester Morris Men on behalf of the Morris Ring. No details were available, but individual Fools or beasts would be welcome.

6    Appointment of Officers.

Julian Kohler had confirmed in his report that he was still alive so it was unnecessary to appoint a new Squire. Nobody else wanted the job, which has considerable status and absolutely no authority, so as nobody wanted to kill him, he was confirmed as the holder of this office.

There was general consensus that Robert, (possibly assisted by Trigger), was an excellent Scrivener, Convener and Treasurer. He agreed to continue and, as no other nominations were forthcoming, he was reappointed.

Peter de Courcy agreed to continue as Membership Secretary and was reappointed. John Edwards was reappointed as Webmaster/Minutes secretary, although he could not remember ever agreeing to do the job in the first place.

7    Membership of the Order - New Members

a.     The new accredited members who were inducted at the feast the previous evening were formally welcomed to the illustrious Order.

b.     There had been no requirement for the rules permitting entry of overseas characters.

c.      There was some discussion about recruitment of new members, but the numbers were not felt to be critical and, as seen at this weekend, people who are interested will find out about us. Tommy or Betty characters who dance with rapper sides would qualify. However, John Stait noted that those characters only appear during the dance itself, then the character returns to normal, as distinct from fools that remain in character. It was agreed that they would be welcome and it could result in the involvement of rapper or long sword in our activities.

d.     Christina mentioned that our weekends are very much Cotswold related and it would be good to include other types, such as Border, North West, or Molly as well as the Sword traditions mentioned earlier. While there was general agreement with this, the fact that few Border or NW sides have characters skewed the membership to Cotswold. Mollies or other man/woman characters could be encouraged to join and the convener would look at how that could be done.

e.     Robert pre-empted a comment from Jeff (Plymouth) with an apology that he had not been able to follow up Jeff’s suggestion of last year that a flyer be produced. It was to be available to all members, extolling the virtues of sides having a Fool or Beast. It could be handed out on occasions when sides without characters were encountered.  It would also detail the next Unconvention. It was agreed that this was desirable and the Convener would draft it.

f.       John Edwards again mentioned his Google Spreadsheet “Morris Histories” that has data on about 300 active clubs. Many included details of characters that could possibly be approached. There were questions about accessing the sheet and, while there are links on several Morris web sites, it is repeated below. Hopefully, those sides not listed will add their entries.

8.     Fundraising

There had not been much fundraising this year and the bad weather at last year’s meeting resulted in few sales. There had been some sales this year, but mainly from ourselves. No specific fund raising activities were planned as we are solvent and not in need of more funds.

9    Other Events

a.     The Banbury Hobby Horse Festival had sadly been subsumed into the Banbury Folk Festival in October. The loss of the school and local
     politics had changed the nature of that event, but beasts were still welcome, albeit just a week before our usual Unconvention date.

b.     The 2017 JMO gathering, already mentioned as 13th May in Leicester and several people indicated their intention to attend.

c.      The Chippenham festival was arranged for 29th May 2017

d.     The “Hobby-horse Trials” at Sidmouth on 6th August were mentioned on a flyer from Steve Rowley and members may wish to participate.
     [John Burke had discovered film of such an event taking place in 1980 and would send details to the Minutes Secretary.]

        10    Confirmation or amendments to the Constitution and Child Protection Policy.

a.     The Constitution was confirmed. It was again noted that it is mainly to define our objectives for third parties, including potential sponsors. The actual running of the organisation has always been very flexible.

b.     The Order’s Child Protection Policy was currently based on that of the Open Morris and would continue as such.

c.      However, the Ring had recently issued such a policy which would be considered, as it also included children in an audience not related to us. Since Kim had closed ‘Ashley’s Rise’, we have had few children attending, other than temporarily with their parents.

d.     Nobody saw any actual problems arising, but we are vulnerable to misinterpretation of our interaction with children, especially as many of the beasts are particularly attractive to them. Such is the increasing litigation culture that we must be aware of this. It was also noted that the definition of the age of “children” had risen from 16 to 18, (and 25 in the case of vulnerable people).

e.     Mr Clifford confirmed that he had not lost any children and Mr Edwards confirmed that he had not found any during the past year.

11    Future Meetings

a.     No firm offers had been received to host the 2017 Unconvention. There was some discussion about the geography of this event as it inevitably involved long journeys by many delegates. A central location would help and Mr Edwards said he would discuss the matter with Stafford and other sides in their area, possibly to hold it at Penkridge. Mr Stait and Mr Austin could not commit Jockey to that event, but could possibly help if it was in the Stafford to Birmingham area. The officers would follow this up.

b.     A suggestion from Julian to utilise cheap winter accommodation at Torquay was again considered. It could be more expensive, but would entail less work from a host side. There were, however concerns that the relaxed and intimate nature of the event could be diminished in a more formal setting. This would be examined as a fall back venue. Again it would be in the South and over 300 miles from Grimsby or Ipswich.

c.      There was also an ongoing idea of a foreign event, such as a trip to Spain. Whilst this was attractive, the costs and logistics may be too difficult.

12   Any other business.

a.     There was an enquiry about the professional photographs taken at Unconventions, including those of the Telegraph photographer who had followed us this weekend. Nobody had firm information and it was hoped they would appear in the newspaper shortly or at least be in the gallery on their web site.

b.     The numerous pictures taken at Southampton have also not been seen and the convener was asked to make enquiries.

c.      Member should feel free to post pictures on the Facebook Page or send them to the webmaster for inclusion on the site or send a link to where they could be found.

d.     Andy thanked the delegates for attending this Wyvern hosted event and particularly for the considerate treatment of the hall. Jed asked people not to put chairs away as they had undergone a lengthy training course on the subject and without such education delegate would be unlikely to understand the complexity.

e.     In turn there was much appreciation expressed to Jed, Andy and the Wyvern team for the work done arranging and supporting this successful weekend.

The meeting closed at 11.25 a.m. so that delegates could tidy up and drive to Castle Cary for another dancing session.

Compiled by John Edwards, (assisted by Knotty).

6th November 2016

2015 Annual General Meeting of the Illustrious Order of Fools and Beasts

October 25th, Cromford Community Centre, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 3RE



1.    Attendance and Apologies

a.              Present: Robert Chisman, Trigg, (Convener); Julian Kohler, (Squire); John Edwards, Stafford, (Webmaster and Minutes Secretary); Chris Bearfoot, Ravensbourne; Mike Frost, Plymouth; Douglas Herdson, Plymouth; Jenny Howard, formerly Bedfordshire Lace; Christina Pritchard, Red Stags Morris, John Clifford, formerly Ashley’s Rise; Kim Woodward, Great Caper; Iain Davison, Dartington; John Burke, King John’s Morris Men; Jed Dunn, Wyvern Jubilee Morris Men; John Stait, Jockey; Clive Cook – Bedford; Clive Sturgess, Ripley Morris men; Anthony Heywood, Red Cuthbert Morris; John Ide, Grimsby Morris Men; David Laister, Grimsby Morris Men; Roger Ward, Ripley Morris Men; Jack Smee, Kennet Morris Men; Mathew King, Mersey Morris Men.

b.              Apologies: Jack Brown, Peter de Courcy, Adam Garland, Stephen and Verna Wass, Paul McLaren (and Rodney the Dog), Roger Comley, John Jenner, Chris Chisman, Robin Springett, Keith Wilson, Charlie Corcoran, Clive Allen, John Richards and John Cope, (who had attended on Friday).

2.    Minutes of Last Meeting

The 2014 minutes were available at the meeting and were deemed to be a true record. However, several names and affiliations needed correction.
These Minutes are available on the F&B Web Site.

3.    Matters Arising

The date of the Wyvern Jubilee Unconvention would be 2016, not 2017 as stated

There were no matters arising, other than the above corrections.

  • 4.    Officers Reports:

a.                   Squire’s Report

As usual Julian’s report was short and simply confirmed that he was still alive. This is significant as the Squire’s job is generally accepted to be a life sentence!

b.                      Convener’s Report

·                   Robert’s semi-retirement and change of address had disrupted many aspects of his life including the F&B records and stock. His new address had been notified to all members, but even so, some applications had gone astray.

·                   New Certificates of membership had been created and updated to meet current needs. (Existing Accredited members could have replacement certificates on payment of £2). Unfortunately, the stock of badges, etc. was somewhere in boxes at his new address.

·                   He had attended various events representing Fools and Bests, including: the JMO at Bristol, The Ring ARM, The Federation AGM and the associated Day of Dance, where he noted the lack of fools and beasts. As members of all three organisations, the Illustrious Order needs to make everyone aware of its existence and activities. We have received various invitations to R, F & O events.

·                   Establishing a venue for this unconvention had been rather difficult. Grimsby had hoped to host the event, but were not able to, so our convener undertook some serious grovelling to Ripley at the Bristol JMO event. He was, (along with the assembled company), very grateful for their acceptance.

c.                        Accounts

·                 Lots of things conspired against the presentation of accounts this year. Not only did Robert’s house move make retrieval of the documents difficult, but the bank also saw fit to prevent on-line access before the weekend of the unconvention. Hence, the only definite fact available was that the current balance was £1,488.38p at the end of 2014.

·                 It was noted that some £50 was collected over the weekend, which given the bad weather on Saturday, was not bad.

·                 Robert offered to send out the accounts to members, but that was considered unnecessary, as nobody felt he had been mismanaging the funds, (although the new Ferrari with a Trigg sticker parked outside did cause some concerns).

·                 The point was made that the year-end was a very long time before our usual Unconvention dates. To make it more relevant, Mr Herdson proposed that the end of our Financial Year should be moved to 30th September. This was seconded by Mr Edwards and carried unanimously.

·                 It was suggested that in due course Robert should produce an interim report covering the accounts to 30/09/2015, so that accounts for the next year would be ready for the 2016 unconvention.

d.                 Membership Secretary’s Report

·                 As Mr de Courcy was not present, there was no report.

·                 However, there was discussion about how we could ensure that our membership details are kept up to date. It was agreed that it was the responsibility of members to inform the Convener of any changes to e-mail or postal addresses and telephone numbers. Those present were asked to confirm their details by e‑mail and ask any other members not present to do the same.

·                 It was noted that there are really two lists required: the current membership data and the archive of members. To compile the latter has been difficult as much data was on obsolete computer files; however John Burke had provided some early information, which may help with this task.

·                 It had previously been decided that it was not desirable to put a members list on the web site for security reasons, but some method of ensuring that we can communicate properly with our members must be found.

e.              Webmaster’s Report

·                 John reported little activity on the web site other than updating the archive of characters and details of events. As usual he emphasised that it is not his web site and appealed for any members to contribute.

·                 The web site is more a reference medium than the Facebook page that Robert administers. That deals with short term comments and conversations. There have been many hits on the web site from all parts of the world, but it is difficult to know what people’s interest may be. There had been some follow-up e-mails.

·                 A number of people present said they had found various aspects of the site useful and informative, which is gratifying. There were suggestions that articles such as those John mentioned during the Immortal memory toast could be added and that will be actioned.

·                 There was discussion about where details of beast construction could be found and there was a suggestion that the web site could contain such information.

·                 It was agreed that a workshop on beast construction would be arranged at a future unconvention, possibly at Yeovil next year.

  • 5.    Event Reports

a.                                 Morris Ring ARM

Robert and John E had attended the Ring ARM and had made sure that delegates knew about the order, but little of note to Fools and Beasts had taken place. Adam Garland, (AKA the East Suffolk Hobby Horse), would continue for another year as Squire, but Charlie Corcoran, (AKA the Leicester Fox) had stood down as Ring Bagman. The new bagman would be Jon Melville of Anker Morris.

b.                                 Federation AGM

As mentioned earlier Robert had attended this event, as had Adam Garland, and again it had been a valuable opportunity to promote characters although there were none in evidence at the subsequent day of Dance. Christina noted that characters were mainly associated with Cotswold style and many Fed sides followed other styles of Morris.

c.                                 Open Morris AGM

·                 Kim, John C and Iain had attended this meeting. Kim had been unsuccessful in her attempt to become Chairman of the Open Morris; however she had been persuaded to stand again this year as many people were getting concerned about the administration of the organisation. The peculiar voting system, which allows no proxy or postal votes, lends itself to rigged elections and once again F&B were asked for support.

·                 It was implied that if something was not done about the concentration of control by one club the future of Open Morris was in question. The 2015 meeting was to be held in Somerset over the weekend of 14th November with the AGM on Sunday 15th November at 10.30 a.m.

d.                                 JMO National Day of Dance, Bristol

Despite being a last minute effort by Rag Morris and requiring a significant input from John and Kim, this event was a great success. Trigger, Knotty and Dennis represented IOFB, and took advantage of their programme entry on the detailed performance matrix, which said “Wherever and whenever they feel like going”. In fact they were definitely noticed and well received. Other members of the Order attended in association with their own sides.

The show in Millennium Square was impressive and a good advertisement for the many variants of the Morris.

  • 6.    Appointment of Officers.

·                 Julian Kohler explained that to appoint a new Squire, he had to die.

As nobody else wanted the job, it was decided not effect that scenario for the time being.

·                 It was agreed that Robert, (ably assisted by Trigger), was doing a great job as Convener.

He agreed to continue and as no other nominations were forthcoming, he was reappointed. Within this role, he has over the past years also acted unofficially as Treasurer; so that he may continue officially, this position was ratified to be part of the Convener's duties. The current Treasurer, Mr John Richards, has agreed to stand down as Treasurer but will remain a signatory until next AGM.

·                 Peter de Courcy was agreeable to remain in the Membership Secretary role and all were happy for him to continue.

  • A similar situation applied to the Webmaster/Minutes secretary role and John Edwards was reappointed.

  • 7.    Membership of Order - New Members

·                 The new accredited members who were inducted at the feast the previous evening were formally welcomed to the illustrious Order.

·                 As mentioned at the feast, we regret to record the death of Ian Heighton of Wisbech, Fool to Kings Morris.

·                 There had been no take up of the rules designed to permit entry of overseas characters, but maybe that needs to be publicised better.

·                 The discussion moved on to how new members could be encouraged. There were two  aspects: i) promoting the idea of more sides having a character and ii) encouraging existing fools, beasts, or other characters to become members of the IOFB. It was noted that we now have a tree amongst our accredited members and Tommy or Betty characters who dance with rapper sides would qualify.

·                 Jeff (Plymouth) suggested a flyer be produced, which could be available to all members extolling the virtues of sides having a Fool or Beast, plus details of next Unconvention, which could be printed off and given to any other Morris team which any of us come across during the dancing season. RC and Trigger said they would draw up a draft.

·                 John Ide of Grimsby had been the only character at two events where large numbers of sides were present. He offered to trawl through the web sites of side represented on Sidefinder to see which had characters that could be approached.

·                 John Edwards mentioned his Google Spreadsheet “Morris Histories” that has data on some 300 clubs including characters. There is a link on the F&B web site as well as the Ring web site. That source, however, relies on people actually entering the data, which many clubs have failed to do.

·                 The direct link is below

·                 There was some discussion on Regional Workshops that may encourage local teams to show interest, but it was felt that that would involve a lot of work and approaches to sides beforehand would be desirable.

  • 8.    Fundraising

·                 There had not been much fundraising this year apart from a few badge sales and the fact that our stock is in a box somewhere in St Austell has not helped.

·                 Suggestions that some of our items could be sold in the Morris Shop would be investigated. The metal badges are only available to members.

·                 John Burke once again explained the legal facets of collecting. By simply telling people they are paying for the performance, (whatever you actually do with the money), you will avoid contentious aspects of charity law or busking regulations.

  • 9.    Other Events

·                 The Banbury Hobby horse festival had evidently diminished into participation in the Banbury Folk Festival in October. There were evidently some local politics which may see it restored, but currently having the event a week before our Unconventions would limit participation.

·                 The meeting was informed that the 2016 JMO gathering would be held on 23rd April in York hosted by Minster Strays on behalf of the Federation.

10.Confirmation or amendments to Constitution and Child Protection Policy.

·                 The Constitution was confirmed. It was noted that its primary purpose is to define our objectives for potential sponsors, rather than to control in detail how we run the organisation, which has always been very flexible.

·                 The Child Protection Policy, (based on that of the Open Morris), was confirmed, but it was felt important that it should always reflect current legislation.

·                 It was placed on record that Mr Clifford’s grandson was not abducted by a hobby-horse. Knotty assured the meeting that it was a rescue mission!

  • 11.Future Meetings

·                 Jed confirmed that the 2016 Unconvention would be hosted by Wyvern Jubilee Morris in the Yeovil area from 28th to 30th October. This would mark the start of the 40th anniversary year of Wyvern Jubilee.

·                 Offers for future hosting would be gratefully received. Although we have had a policy of holding these events alternately north and south it was noted that the majority of those present had come from well south of Cromford, so it did not seem to influence the take up from characters in the region.

·                 Julian noted that Torquay hotels are very cheap at this time of year.

  • 12. Any other business.

·                 There was a request that photographs be sent to Robert or made available on Facebook so they could eventually be put on the web site to record this event.

·                 Iain Davison suggested that the unconvention should be moved to another time of year for warmer weather, but the consensus was to stick with the traditional “Clocks back” weekend, or nearby dates.

·                 Clive Sturgess thanked the Order for attending this Ripley hosted event. There was much appreciation expressed to him, to Wardie and to Trigger for all the work they had put into making the weekend such a success.

The meeting closed at 11.15 a.m. so that delegates could walk to Cromford Mill, where it was hoped the sunshine would bring out an audience.

[Post meeting note: it did.]

Compiled by John Edwards, (hindered by Knotty)

27th October 2015


2014 Annual General Meeting of the Illustrious Order of Fools and Beasts

October 19th, St Mabyn, Cornwall.

Minutes of Meeting.

1.    Attendance and Apologies

a.     Present: Rob Chisman, Julian Kohler, John Edwards, Stephen Wass, Verna Wass, Mike Frost, John Clifford, Kim Woodward, J Jefferies, Jon Ide, Clive Cook, Roger Comley, Keith Wilson, Douglas Herdson, Rob Collyer, John Burke, Christine Pritchard, John Stait, Clive Allen, Clive Sturgess, Roger Ward, Jack Smee, Stephen Thatcher, Paul McLaren, Iain Davidson and Rodney the Dog.

b.    Apologies: Jack Brown, Peter de Courcy, John Cope, Jenny Howard, Jed Dunn, Charlie Corcoran, Adam Garland, Robin Springett.

2.    Minutes of Last Meeting

a.     The minutes had been circulated and were deemed a true record.

3.    Matters Arising - None

4.    Officers Reports:

a.     Squire’s Report –

                                                    i.     Julian had nothing to report, other than to thank Robert for his work during the year and for arranging this Unconvention.

b.    Convener’s Report  

                                                    i.     Robert reviewed the previous Unconvention in Sheffield. It went well and was enjoyable, but rather disappointing that we did not have the support of a local team. However we showed that we could manage on our own resources if necessary.

c.     Accounts –

                                                    i.     The 2013 / 14 accounts were presented and explained.

                                                  ii.     The Sheffield Unconvention had made a small profit thanks to the DIY nature of the event.
There had been a profit on the year of £236.28 with a bank balance at the end of 2013 of £775.35.

                                                iii.     The accounts were accepted unanimously.

d.    Membership Secretary’s Report.

                                                    i.     As Mr de Courcy was not present there was no report. 

e.     Webmaster’s Report

                                                    i.     John reported that there had been little change on the web site during the year other than adding reports and pictures of events plus a few pictures of characters that had been submitted.

                                                  ii.     There had been an email to complain about characters missing, but no pictures were supplied!

                                                iii.     There had been quite a lot of hits on the site from various parts of the world, but it was difficult to know what effect it had had.

                                                iv.     He had put on information about Order and other events when he was aware of them, but needed more input from members if the site was to be kept up to date.

5.    Event Reports:

a.     Morris Ring ARM

                                                    i.     John E had attended the meeting on behalf of IOFB, but there were few items of significance to the order.

                                                  ii.     Adam Garland had been appointed as Squire of the Ring and it was gratifying to have someone who regularly appears as a beast in this role.

b.    Federation AGM

                                                    i.     No-one present had attended the 2014 meeting

c.     Open Morris AGM

                                                    i.     The meeting had not occurred at the date of the Unconvention, but it was noted that Kim was standing as Chairman and would welcome support. As voting was only by people there on the day several people would try to attend.

d.    JMO National Day of Dance, Bristol

                                                    i.     This was being organised by Open Morris in Bristol on April 18th and an invitation had been extended to Fools and Beasts who were welcome to attend without their dancing sides. John and Kim were much involved in the arrangements and would welcome support.

6.    Appointment of Officers.

a.     In the absence of any proposals to the contrary the current officers agreed to remain in office. 

7.    Membership of Order - New Members

a.     The point was made that characters, who were not currently linked with specific teams were welcome to attend our events.

8.    Fundraising

a.     Sales had been low at the 2013 Unconvention and collection was difficult without local support, however we are solvent and fundraising is less important.

9.    Other Events

a.     There was some discussion about attendance at Straw Bear, where we have an open invitation.

b.    There was an update on the Banbury Hobby Horse Festival which had suffered from the loss of its town centre base. However there was a plan to revive it and details would be on their web site.

10.Confirmation or amendments to Constitution and Child Protection Policy.

a.     These were confirmed in line with policy established in 2010.

11. Future Meetings:

a.     The next unconvention would be arranged in Derbyshire in conjunction with Ripley Morris men. It was noted that the previous Cromford event was very successful, but that venue may not be available.

b.    2017 would be in the Yeovil area thanks to Wyvern Jubilee.

12. Any other business.

a.     There was some discussion about the fools window at Thaxted which was Ring based. Maybe it would be possible to establish a small memorial at the National memorial arboretum; however that would probably be too expensive. Further information was needed.

b.    It was noted that arranging an Advisory Council Meeting at the same time as the unconvention was rather silly.

c.     As most communication is now done by e-mail, members must be responsible for keeping Robert up to date.

d.    There was a vote of thanks for Robert and others who had arranged this event. However, it was felt that next time they should organise better weather.


As the time was pressing to get to our next dancing spot and most people had to clear their rooms the meeting finished at 10.50 a.m.


Minutes of AGM held on 27th October 2013 at Sheffield, Yorkshire.


Jack Brown, John Burke, Chris Chisman, Roger Comley, Peter de Courcy, Max Haynes, John Jenner, Verna and Steven Wass, and Rodney the Dog, (who, once again was barred by the venue owners.) [Jonny Cope, (Thaxted), Iain Dickinson, Tim Sercombe and Robin Springett, (Dartington) attended the weekend but were unable to stay for the AGM.]


Clive Cook, East Suffolk; Charlie Corcoran, Leicester; Rob Chisman – Scrivener and Convener, Trigg; John Clifford, Ashley’s Rise; Jed Dunn, Wyvern Jubilee; John Edwards – Webmaster, Stafford; Mike Frost, Plymouth; Douglas Herdson, Plymouth; Jenny Howard, Bedfordshire Lace; John Jeffery, Plymouth; Julian Kohler – Squire, Plymouth; Paul McLaren, Plymouth; Christina Pritchard, Red Stags; Jack Smee, Kennet; John Stait, Jockey; Stephen Thatcher, Chalford Stick Company; Clive Sturgess, Ripley; Roger Ward, Ripley; Keith Wilson, Peterborough; Kim Woodward, Ashley’s Rise.


These had been circulated and put on the web site. The date was corrected and there were some minor amendments after which they were deemed to be accurate. Acceptance proposed by Christina Pritchard, seconded by Jed Dunn and accepted by all who were present. The Convener thanked John E for producing them then the Squire signed the minutes as being a true record.


·   John Edwards reported that the commemorative panel to John Colbert in the Thaxted “Fools Window” was dedicated during the Thaxted Ring Meeting this year with John’s widow Barbara and a contingent of Stafford, Cambridge and Woodside men present.

·   Some discussion followed about other potential fools, including John Butler, Geoff Hebditch and John Maher, being similarly recognised.

·   Christina brought greetings from Mary Hebditch with thanks for the support she had received when Geoff was killed during the past year.

·   John Clifford had not attended the 2012 Open Morris AGM

·   JMO children in need project, which was the subject of much debate last year would again be issued, but F&B had already decided to leave such contributions to individual sides. Some £10K was presented to Pudsey by the JMO, but many sides had sent their contributions directly to Children in Need, thereby defeating part of the objective.


There were no changes. Julian Kohler – Squire; Robert Chisman – Scrivener and Convener; John Edwards, Webmaster and Minutes Secretary; Peter de Courcy, Membership Secretary, Archivist and Facebook administrator.

All appointments were agreed unanimously with no other candidates standing.


Robert reported that last year’s Unconvention had made a small loss of £85 and the Bank account amounted to about £600.

The group had a stock of merchandise amounting to a potential retail value of about £1000. The detailed accounts were available and the balance sheet was circulated. After some discussion it was proposed for approval by Christina Pritchard, seconded by Jed Dunn, carried unanimously and signed by the Squire.



When asked if he had anything to report Julian, (to great acclamation), said “No!”


·   John reported that he had endeavoured to keep the site in line with the constantly changing arrangements for the 2013 Unconvention. Reports and pictures of the Fool’s window had been added and some new character pictures had been added to the galleries.

·   It was now a little confusing as to the various roles of the web site and the Facebook page. He felt that the web site should be the repository for reference and archive information with a front page giving current information and links to other pages and sources of information including Facebook.  On the other hand Facebook could carry pictures, videos and ephemeral information as it is easier for anyone to add contributions.

·   The web site was continuing to receive plenty of hits from around the world, but without detailed analysis it is difficult to capitalise on this interest.

·   In line with a resolution of some time ago the AGM minutes are available on the web site.

·   John, once again, pointed that it is not his web site, but the IOFB site. He appealed for input from members and any other contributors who may wish to submit relevant information. For example, Adam Garland had submitted some notes that should be of benefit to current and prospective beasts, which is now available on the site.

·   Pictures of events or characters should be submitted in the first instance to Robert and a selection of lower quality images will be put on the site, or linked to a Picasa album. Anyone requiring high quality images for publication etc. should obtain the originals as Web site versions are intended for quick loading


As Peter was not present there was no report but John would contact him to see if he wished to add a report to the published minutes.

Robert noted that archival material could be sent to Peter, but suggested that he would prefer electronic versions to reduce the volume of material he has to store.


Ring ARM

John Edwards had attended and represented IOFB at the Ring ARM held at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and Charlie Corcoran, as Ring bagman was heavily involved. It was an interesting experience holding the event at a venue total geared to disabled people. However, while there were lots of discussions about many Morris issues, there was little directly relevant to Fools or Beasts.

Federation AGM

There had been no IOFB representative at the 2013 federation AGM, but jenny reported that a new President had been elected. She was not sure who it was, but having checked it turned out to be Melanie Barber, (ironically from Sheffield).

Open AGM

This has not taken place yet, but John C and Kim intend to be present and will represent IOFB. Any relevant news will be passed to Robert for dissemination.


·    The F&B bank, which started as Alliance and Leicester, is now Santander. Robert and Julian visited a Sheffield Branch to see if a Bank Card could be obtained to ease payments during events. After initially agreeing they then decided that one could not be issued to our group. Although, the occasions are limited when cheques cannot be used, (such as paying for Saturday lunch at this Unconvention), Robert would seek alternative banks.  In fact Julian had kindly paid for everybody’s lunch and drinks at Weatherspoons. Sadly, he required reimbursing!

·    Some discussion took place about possibly using PayPal or Bank transfers to pay for events. Many felt such a facility would be useful, but we did not know about costs or other factors, so it was agreed that the officers would look into possibilities.

·    Although Jonny Cope was not present he had established that it was up to individuals to contact Daniel Fox about entries on the Fools window. There was no fixed fee, but a donation to church funds would be expected. Stafford /Woodside had given £100 in memory of John Colbert. There was some discussion about Fools from non-ring sides being eligible for the window. Whilst nothing was documented, it was though that Thaxted would probably make that restriction.

·    That led on to discussion about other possible memorial sites, such as the national Arboretum, but past experience by the Ring suggested that may be prohibitive. However, John E would enquire if things had changed. More foolish sites were suggested including the trig point on Glastonbury Tor. Members were asked to consider possibilities.

·    Membership by characters not associated with any specific Morris sides was discussed in relation to a couple who have a hobby horse character and appear at folk events. To some extent a precedent had been set with Chris Chisman appearing as trotter and not dancing with Trigg, but there were a range of scenarios where the character may not fit in with our ethos, such as Clowns or Chinese Dragons. However we have dragons amongst our beasts and some members are no longer linked to a side.

·    It became obvious that it was too difficult to write a clear definition, so it was agreed that we would rely on the recommendations of current members and each case would be treated on its merits, with membership at the discretion of the officers. This was proposed as a matter of policy by the Convener, seconded by John Clifford and agreed without a vote, however it was also agreed that this policy would be reviewed in a few years to ensure that the essential nature of the IOFB was not being diluted.

·    The matter of insurance for such people was also mentioned, but as F&B are members of the Federation, we would be covered for third party liability at our own events.

·    Some members felt that we should do more to advertise ourselves both within and outside Morris circles. It seems many sides are unaware of our existence, so information would be sent to the organisations for inclusion in Newsletters etc. Possibly a twitter feed may be a way of communicating although few people attending seemed to actually use their twitter accounts. Some sides had abandoned Twitter as it was too onerous keeping it relevant. Jenny thought it was possible to link Facebook to twitter automatically to give some output without additional work. Few present had any experience of this, so John E agreed to discuss the possibilities with Peter de Courcy.

·    Fund raising from our merchandise was felt to be important. An eBay shop was suggested with mugs, badges, car stickers, etc. being readily available. There were concerns expressed about misuse, but the fact that the logo could already be downloaded from the web site and did not seem to have attracted any miscreants suggested that this was unlikely.

·    Other ideas like fleeces and sweat shirts were discussed. Whilst some members would purchase them it was noted that sewing an F&B badge on to proprietary items would suffice in most cases. However, Robert would research prices, sizes and availability then report back in due course. Many sides already had club and personalised items of clothing, which could be enhanced with our cloth badges. Items available would be added to the web site, with instructions to contact Robert.

·    Robert reported that he had a high quality version of the logo available if required.


The current plans are 2014 Cornwall, possibly Bodmin or St Austel with Trigg, Plymouth, and Tywardreath. 2015 Ripley possibly again at Cromford; 2016‑Wyvern Jubilee; 2017 – Stafford, (although by then it was implied that we might all be doing Morris on Mobility Scooters!)

Julian would still like to arrange an event at Brest, but time, transport costs and logistics, (not least getting everyone to Plymouth), militate against it.

Various comments that moving from the traditional “Clocks back” weekend may have benefits were debated, but in the end it is up to organisers to select the dates, especially as half-term holidays vary throughout the country.


·   John E enquired about the Photos taken by Andy Summers at the Southampton Unconvention. Julian reported that they were nearly ready and he had hoped to have then in time for this event, however, he would follow it up.

·   It was noted that a local photographer had promised to put his photos of our dance spots on Flicker. (We would endeavour to publish the link when they appeared.)

·   John E again appealed for members to add the character details to the Morris Histories Google Spreadsheet and update or add their side’s details if necessary. Access is via the Ring or Stafford Morris web sites.

·   There had been no further developments in the Open Morris Child Protection Policy. However Ripley reported that they have developed their own as a result of an unsupervised teenager joining the side. It was confirmed that children welcome with supervision are welcome at Unconventions as long as the organisers can provide suitable facilities.

·   Thanks were given to the Plymouth team for the excellent breakfasts. They even implied that they might do it again next year if asked!

·   Thanks were given to Jed for the morning workshop which was intended to demonstrate that Fools and Beasts have different needs and by working together combining resources they can resolve most issues. Clive Cook made the point that as a newcomer he found it a rapid and useful way to meet other members. The fact that we were in kit ready for the bus to town avoided potential delays.

·   The workshop was well received though the beasts who took part were well sighted. However, beasts with limited vision need more help particularly in low light, or with a need to look down on escalators or stairs. Fools and other dancers should be prepared to lead such beasts through difficult terrain or crowds and certainly should not abandon the beast. Anyone with Ideas for workshops, or even volunteers to lead one, was asked to contact Robert.

·   John Jeffery felt we needed explanatory leaflets to hand out to interested members of the public. It was unfortunate that we ran out of the ones that were available for this weekend and even left some at the Scout HQ.  It was agreed that such leaflets were needed and John E would liaise with Robert to produce a sample. The use of QR codes was recommended as a way to give access to more information. Possibly a PDF on the web site could permit printing of a tri-fold leaflet, which is easier to pocket. It was felt that a Post-card would be too small, although business cards, or beer mats may have some merit. It was generally acknowledged that a leaflet must supplement talking to people not replace it.

·   Various people thought that the 2013 format was more relaxed without the commitment to a Sunday dance out.

·   John E omitted to mention that he and Knotty had represented Fools and Beasts at the very impressive funeral tribute to Ivor Alsop at Grenoside crematorium.

The Convener closed the meeting at 10.45 a.m.

These minutes will be stored electronically and published on the web site with CD archive held by the officers.

John Edwards (Knotty)

2nd November 2013


The Illustrious Order of Fools and Beasts

Minutes of AGM held on 4th November 2012 at Lyons Copse. Shedfield, Hampshire.


Jack Brown, Mick Buckley, Chris Chisman, Roger Comley,  Max Haynes, Tony Motley Peter Perry, Matt Simons, John Stait, Clive Sturgess, and Rodney the Dog, (who, regrettably, was barred by the site owners), however, he did send a representative!


Rob Bell, Letchworth; John Burke, King John’s; Rob Chisman – Scrivener and Convener, Trigg; Jonny Cope, Thaxted; Peter de Courcy Membership Sec, Kennet; Jed Dunn, Wyvern Jubilee; John EdwardsWebmaster, Stafford; Mike Frost, Plymouth; Douglas Herdson, Plymouth; Norman Hopson, Long Man; Jenny Howard, Bedfordshire Lace; John Ide, Grimsby; John Jeffery, Plymouth; Henning Koefoed, Netherlands; Julian KohlerSquire, Plymouth; Darren Marfleet, Trigg; Paul McLaren, Plymouth; Paul Mower, Aldbury; Glen Osborne, Grimsby; Frances Popley, Newton Bushel; Christina Pritchard, Red Stags; Jack Smee, Kennet; Richard Smith, Bristol; Stephen Thatcher, Chalford Stick Company; Stephen Wass, Adderbury / Bloxham; Verna Wass, Adderbury / Bloxham; Keith Wilson, Peterborough. John Clifford and Kim Woodward, Ashley's Rise.

Before the Meeting commenced, the Convener made an Accredited Membership presentation to Glen Osborne from Grimsby Morris Men, which had regrettably been omitted after the feast. (The excuse was that Glen was already wearing an F&B Badge. However, that turned out to belong to a relative)


These had been circulated and were deemed to be an accurate record of the meeting. Acceptance proposed by Christina Pritchard, seconded by Jenny Howard and accepted by all who were present. The Minutes Secretary thanked Mr de Courcy for proof reading the 2011 minutes. The Convener signed the minutes as being a true record.


·   The matter of entries on the fool’s window at Thaxted was still outstanding, but it was agreed that John Cope would report later in the meeting.

·   The membership criteria had been entered as an agenda item and John Edwards would report then.


The current holders agreed to continue their existing roles and as there were no alternative proposals the following officers were confirmed:
Squire, Julian Kohler; Scrivener and Convener, Robert Chisman; Webmaster and Minutes Secretary, John Edwards; Membership Secretary, Archivist, and Facebook Host, Peter de Courcy.


Convener’s Report

Robert reported that little had happened as a group since the last Unconvention. However IOFB had been represented at the presented his report of the activities during the year. Apart from the report on the last Unconvention, which had been published shortly after the event, there had been no activity as a group although a number of members had attended the Banbury Hobbyhorse festival in July. (Verna noted that due to the unfortunate appointment of a head-teacher, who was unsympathetic to the Morris, they needed alternative venue.)

Badges, both metal and cloth, together with a variety of merchandise bearing the logo of the Order, were now available and selling well. The mugs, blue badges and Christmas cards were still in stock and, (thanks to Christina), post cards, fridge magnets, bags, etc. had also been produced. There was some interest in car stickers which would be looked into.

Large posters had been produced, which will be useful in promoting the group and for directions to venues.

Webmaster’s Report

John Edwards reported that the site had had some considerable updating since the last meeting, notably the inclusion of the text of the talk Roy Dommett gave us in 2011 and the series of papers by Mike Wilkinson giving tips and advice to fools and potential fools. John was aware that these had been useful to a number of folk who aspire to our ranks.

The site had had a considerable number of hits from around the world considering its specialist nature. Some 3000 visits per month were recorded, although it is impossible to say what the nature of those enquiries might be. In addition there are numerous hits from automated systems which are unlikely to be of interest to us.

The fact that a number of people have followed up their visits with e-mails requesting information or expressing interest in membership, (including one present at the meeting), show that it is a valuable resource.

Sadly there have been five obituaries this year, and further information about those concerned would be appreciated. Updates to pictures for the fools and beasts galleries have been limited, but the site provides links to a considerable archive of photographs submitted by members and the general public.

These are stored in Picasa. This is a free Google service, which can be accessed on Ethernet-connected televisions and Freesat tuners permitting the pictures to be viewed on a television. (John offered to supply connection details and instructions for owners of suitable equipment.

The site also carries up to date information about Order events, application forms and details of membership. The revised rules agreed today will be posted on line and may result in more overseas members.

The cost of the site is minimal as the Webmaster produces the site free, but there are registration and hosting charges amounting to less than £20 per year.

John again made a plea for input from members as administering a site is one thing – writing its entire content is another. It is your site; please use it.

Membership secretary’s report

Peter reported that he was now better placed to have a full list of past and present members which is important for communications. There are still people who have been associated with the fools union and its successors about whom we know little and any details of such folk should be sent to Peter.

A further task undertaken by Peter is the F&B Facebook site. This is used for updates on foolishly related activities, photographs of events and can be used as a means of communication between members and others. Such social network sites are valuable in these days of tablets and smartphones.

In general the Facebook page is used for current or ephemeral data, while the web site provided reference and archive material. Using both systems gives us the best of both worlds.


Robert distributed copies of the presented the accounts for the year to December 2011. These showed a net balance of some £780, which would provide a buffer if we encountered any losses or needed urgent purchases or other outgoings. As our “Year” goes January to December much of the information referred to last year, but the current balance was still healthy.

Our main income is from merchandise and collections; however, we cannot rely on the latter.

As usual, most of the accounts referred to the annual Unconvention (Bracknell 2011), but as these are based on a break even policy, they do not alter the balance significantly.

Copies of the accounts were available and following a proposal by Jed and seconding by Paul, they were approved by the meeting.

The meeting felt that the cost of sending a nominated representative of the Order to ARMs / AGMs should be subsidised from funds. Robert said he would claim for cost of the Ring ARM event charge, but not for transport. He would discuss this with reps attending the AGMs of other bodies. This money would only be paid if claimed.

This was presented as a proposal by Jed Dunn, seconded by Christina Pritchard and carried unanimously.

Thanks were offered to the Convener for administering the finances and producing the accounts.

Morris Ring ARM Report

Robert and John E had represented the order at the 2012 Ring ARM. at Sheffield.

The on-going debate, following clarification of the principal that Ring sides could have female supporters such as musicians, but not female dancers, raised the question of what to do with side who flouted this rule. Essentially the Ring officers would have to resolve this on a case by case basis.

As with all such matters, there are grey areas, which may affect the position of sides dancing with fools and beasts. Most Ring sides would not see the ancillary characters as dancers, but others might. It is unlikely that a female fool would be dancing as a member of a ring side, although she may interact with them. The IOFB is unique in its constitution and only time would tell if there is to be any complaint.

[Note: Ironically, this did manifest itself later in the day. The IOFB may have to ensure that supporting sides and individuals are comfortable with our mixed, (Organisation and gender), make-up, to avoid embarrassment.]

The meeting was informed that Robin Springett of Dartington had been elected as the new Squire of the Morris Ring.

The professional photographers Andy and Sam, who attended the ARM had been invited to take pictures at the Unconvention hence their presence this weekend.

Morris Federation AGM and Open Morris AGM

Nobody at the meeting was able to update us on these meetings. The 2012 Open AGM had not taken place. Hopefully, John C and Kim would inform us if anything relevant to the IOFB occurs.

Membership as a Group of Ring, Federation and Open

The Convener reported that we are now associate members of the Morris Federation, (mainly for the insurance cover), associate members of Open Morris, (mainly for their child protection policies) and Correspondent members of the Morris Ring, (Our origins and heritage).


Following last year’s discussions, John Edwards was asked to formulate some proposals to alter the constitution to permit members from overseas to be admitted. He submitted his proposed revisions to the meeting. After some discussion, it was agreed that with the addition of a request for a photograph, the revised rules could be adopted.

The revisions are appended and will be put on the web site for the benefit of any members not present. It was felt that with the use of modern technology it should be possible to make a reasonable judgement on the applicants and their performance as the character concerned.


The badges, mugs, Christmas cards etc. mentioned earlier were a positive attempt to build up our funds. Also any surplus from Unconventions, (mainly dependent on collections on tours), were also helping our finances.

Anyone with any ideas on specific fund raising activities was asked to contact Robert to discuss its viability.


The Banbury Hobby Horse Festival was still scheduled for the first weekend in July 2013, but as mentioned earlier, a revised venue was being sought. Members should watch their web site for more information.

Some discussion took place on asking Chris Harris to run a workshop related to the performance aspects of our art. He offers a workshop entitled “How to make a fool of yourself and get away with it!” He has an excellent reputation and various people who had seen him in action felt we could benefit from his help. His performance of “Kemp’s Jig” at the Leicester ARM was memorable. However, this would be far too extensive to form one of our short workshops at the annual weekend and would need a special event to be arranged. There was also a significant cost involved, so the Scrivener was asked to find out more details and inform members of the outcome to judge if there was sufficient support for the idea.


Sadly, we have lost quite a number of eminent fools and beasts recently and the Order would like to see them commemorated on the “Fool’s window” at Thaxted Church. Whilst it is considered that the clubs concerned have the prime responsibility to initiate the process, Jonny Cope was asked to find out what the mechanism was to get the engraving done.

Evidently, it relies on Daniel Fox providing hospitality to the engraver, who does not make a specific charge, but requests a donation, (say £50), to whatever project the church currently needs. There was a suggestion that we could arrange a special memorial weekend to recognise these members of the order, but that would need coordination with the clubs and would be quite complicated.

Some names mentioned were John Butler, Ripley; Sony Townsend, Bampton; John Colbert Stafford and Woodside; John Meyer, Bristol; Geoff Hebditch, King John’s; Martin Harris, Hartley and, (just before the Unconvention weekend), Ivor Alsop, Barnsley Longsword, a long term supporter of Fools and Beasts.

John Edwards informed the meeting that provision had already been made to have an engraving to John Colbert done in time for the next Thaxted Ring Meeting, when Stafford and John’s widow, Barbara, would be in attendance.

It was thought that we should inform the clubs to whom the fools in question belonged about the window and the process. We should ensure that the Order was represented at any suitable ceremony, but we could not take on the actual arrangements. It was also felt that some reimbursement for Daniel should be offered. Jonny was thanked for his input.


It was planned to have an Unconvention in 2014 under the auspices of Trigg Morris, when Robert would still be Squire. The side has given support for this idea.

However, at the time of the meeting no side had offered to host the 2013 meeting. There was a feeling that a Northern, or possibly Midlands, venue would be preferable as many recent meeting had been in the south and Polperro would be even further south. The Scrivener had approached Harthill, in Sheffield, to see if they could oblige, but he had had no formal acceptance, nor indeed rejection.

The newly elected members from Grimsby thought that their club may be able to oblige and they were asked to investigate the possibility. Stafford may also be able to make the necessary provision, but as it was quite recently that they hosted an Unconvention, this would be a last resort. The scrivener would inform members of any firm arrangements for next year.

It was noted that it is not too early for sides to consider hosting the 2015 Unconvention!


Timing of the Unconvention

Jenny raised the matter of scheduling these weekends. It was agreed that dancing in the dark, as happened on the evening before the AGM, was undesirable and not very enjoyable. Also the tight timings, if we are to dance out on both days, means less chance of including workshops or discussions. Whilst it was understood that the current venue was unavailable on our traditional weekend and the comments were not meant as a criticism of the hosts, it had thrown up some practicalities.

The big advantage of the “Clocks Back” weekend is that we can dance later on Saturday and have an hour’s lie in on Sunday, to say nothing of an hour’s extra drinking time between the first and second appearance of 2 a.m. for those with the stamina.

There was a lot of discussion about the value of dancing out on Sunday compared with the loss of workshop time and the necessity to compress the AGM. No firm decisions were made, as it was felt that the actual structure of the weekend should rest with the hosts However, organisers of future Unconventions should be asked to bear these matters in mind when arranging the programme.


Peter de Courcy informed the meeting that he had collated a number of documents and artefacts that relate to the IOFB and that these would be available at Unconventions or by request.
He appealed for any other relevant items to be sent to him for incorporation into the archives.

There was appreciation for Peter having taken on this additional task.

Google Spreadsheets

The webmaster made reference to the Google spreads sheet Morris Histories, which was he up to record facts about side past and present. There are data on some 350 sides so far and he requested members present to add details of their characters to the Spreadsheet.

Child Protection.

Kim had reported last year that a new system was due to be implemented, but it was currently on hold. She was not present to update us, but the meeting felt that simply aligning ourselves with the policy of the Open Morris should keep us in line with the latest requirements.

JMO request

Possibly as a reaction to the minimal Morris content in the Olympic ceremonies, the JMO committee had sent a request, (though some felt it was more of an instruction), to collect for, or donate money for “Children in Need”. There was much discussion about whether IOFB should make a donation. There was adverse reaction from those sides that had commitment to specific charities. It was also noted that IOFB Members were generally associated with clubs that may already be giving. Others though that a nominal sum could be donated from our funds.

Eventually a proposal to donate £100 was defeated by 12 votes to 7 with three abstentions.


The Chairman closed the meeting with a vote of thanks to our hosts and the supporting clubs, with a particular mention of the primary school that had put on an excellent show despite only a few weeks of instruction in the Morris. They coped very well with the influx of such a host of strange characters.

The meeting finished at 10 a.m. in time to pack up and head for Winchester.

John Edwards (Knotty)

26 November 2012


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