Tuesday 1st March: A meeting was called by concerned residents of Finchley to resurrect the “Friends of Avenue House”.
Around 7:30pm, Sandra Rebak chaired a meeting of over forty residents to set up a reformed Friends of Avenue House and raise funds for AHET. (the Avenue House Estate Trust.)
For the first hour there was an open question and answer time where members asked questions, and other members in the know answered them. Janett Durant and one or two other members of AHET were there to answer more complex questions. One member decided to leave as he wasn’t happy with the secretive nature of AHET and decided he didn’t want to be involved. In fact “secrecy” was mentioned by several people, several times.
After the question and answer session, it was time to appoint the Friends committee as, naturally, a smaller group was needed to drive the new body of friends forward.
The following people volunteered and were subsequently elected: Christine Kavanagh, Sandra Rebak, Cyril Rebak, David Fleisig, David Wightwick, Hilary Jarvis and Carl Gomerich.
We were also informed that it costs £60,000-80,000 to keep Avenue House and the grounds good order. And that the trust does not receive any grants for this purpose.
Janett, who was there as an observer, and in sombre mood, told us that business is fast declining. Also that they have formed a partnership with the North London Hospice.
At present the Estate is running on a shortfall of £10,000 per month. With cuts in the salary bill over the next month, the shortfall should then reduce to around £6,000 per month.
The Estate now only has one gardener who is finding it impossible to cope and the friends suggested that this was one area where they could ask the public for help.
There were lots of suggestions voiced, such as links with the Woodland Trust; links to local business (Janett has already tried contacting local businesses without success), contacting schools, the festival of trees, asking for guest lecturers from Kew Gardens, tree tours and even organised picnics in the estate grounds.
It was suggested that emphasis should be given to let everyone know how a small monthly payment by bankers order would be a great start to fund raising. It could be £10 a month or as low as £2. A suggestion was made for people to arrive at the figure by taking the amount of two hours of their salary as the monthly payment.
One gentleman suggested that four working groups be set up: Campaigns & advocacy; Fundraising – Individual, corporate, partnerships; Finance & legal and Public relations, press contacts.
After the appointment of the committee the meeting developed into a business meeting and your reporters left.