At this year’s AGM, after serving in the role for the past three years, Alistair Thomson stood down as OHV President, as constitutionally required. In his outgoing report, Al acknowledged the contributions of fellow committee members, as he has generously done each year. In turn, those who have worked with him on committee over this period would now like to take the opportunity to thank him personally for his own very considerable efforts during this time, and to alert all OHV members to the breadth of his achievements as their President.

A glance at Al’s annual reports over this three-year term would quickly highlight for members the giant steps the Association has taken under his stewardship, but it is worth drawing attention to some of them again here:

  • Under Al’s encouragement and through his extensive networking skills, he has helped recruit new people to fill specific roles on the OHV committee. As he put it, these committee members “…combine a wide range of oral history experience: from family and community history, from professional history and public history institutions, and from the academic world.” The composition of the committee has changed over the past three years but all its members have learned from and enjoyed the experience of working under Al’s leadership.
  • Al has been the driver behind the creation and/ or expansion of a lively calendar of events, including the consolidation and regular scheduling of introductory and advanced training workshops; the hosting of public lectures, seminars and masterclasses with internationally-renowned oral historians; the continuation of an annual mid-year symposium providing opportunities for members to present or workshop their latest projects under specified themes; the introduction of two new OHV awards and incorporation of awards presentations by short listed candidates at the annual AGM evening; the first Oral History Exhibition and Members’ Showcase; the introduction and hosting of a regular OHV Ideas and Skills Exchange; and the provision of bursaries to assist selected OHV members in their efforts to attend interstate conferences.
  • To help in the promotion of events and news dissemination, Al has overseen and actively assisted plans to improve OHV’s social media platforms, including a major makeover of the Association’s website – so that it is now more attractive, affordable, manageable and effective – and the lively OHV Facebook site.

Al leaves the OHV Presidency at a time when the Association is in arguably ruddy good health – enjoying a robust financial state, boosted membership numbers, and a more efficient event and membership management system – no coincidence there! But the Association remains a small organisation, run entirely by volunteer effort, and can ill afford to lose officials of Al’s calibre if it is to maintain or improve its momentum and reach. Fortunately, Al will continue to assist the committee, serving as Vice President in the coming year, and we remain indebted to him for this and, again, for all he has contributed to OHV in recent years. And no resting on laurels needless to say. Readers of REWIND need look no further than the last edition for news of some of his plans for new project activity in the coming year. Watch this space!