The most recent Guests on ‘The McKay Interview’, Jazz Great, Monty Alexander, and Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the U.N. Geneva.
I am happy to be able to report that we had a successful AGM in Bern on 16 May (see report) in an attractive setting and at an attractive price. This was made possible by the generosity of our main sponsor, Peritus, whose contribution paid for the room and for the aperitif.
Moreover, there have been some notable happenings since that meeting!
First the good news – your Council has been able to co-opt Michael Bruce onto Council and Michael has agreed to take on the position of Regional Chairman Romandie West. We are grateful to Michael and wish him well in the exercise of this function. Michael thus joins the Councillors co-opted during the past year (Deborah Gorsatt, Robert Dean, Graham Robertson and John Spicer) who have since been formally elected at the AGM.
We are increasingly using e-mail to remind members of events at both the National and Regional level. E-Mail reminders have been a significant factor in getting last-minute registrations for events. Less good is the fact that a number of you will have received unauthorized and unsolicited e-mails recently. The latest of these contained erroneous information about the QBP in Romandie West. Official reminder e-mails for events should only come from our Secretary or from your own Regional Chairman (in exceptional cases from the Regional Chairman’s deputy). E-mails from other sources should be ignored.
This Spring has turned out to be quite eventful! It began with terrible weather which disrupted even the Swiss Railways, and, incidentally, put our Secretary out of action for a couple of days when her house was flooded. Then came the adorable new Princess Charlotte to delight the heart of Royalists (which, I think, BRA members mainly are!) and finally came the unexpected victory of David Cameron and his Tories in the UK Elections. Whether you support that party or not, I think we should all be grateful that a decisive majority has been achieved and that the UK will no longer be governed by a coalition.
The result of the election means that a referendum on continuing UK membership of the EU will now take place in 2017. If you left the UK less than 15 years ago, you can now register to vote from Switzerland by electronic means. Details are on our website.
The Winter Weekend in which a number of members participated failed to take place this year and this event has now been definitely dropped, with the result that there are now just three National events per year, the AGM, the Winter Lunch and the Golf Challenge.
A negative point for the Winter Lunch at the Olympic Museum was that since we were only using half the room, we were unable to use their sound system, and we received several complaints that some speakers were not clearly heard. We hope we have remedied that situation by purchasing our own system, which we used at the AGM. It is not yet perfect but it was relatively inexpensive and should pay its way in future. It will also be available for Regional events provided that we can solve the logistics of getting it from one place to another without incurring unreasonable expense!
Your Council also decided to spend some of your money supporting a really Swiss undertaking – namely Solar Impulse. We spent CHF 200 sponsoring one of the 10’728 Solar cells (no. 4024) on this revolutionary airplane which any day now will undertake its biggest challenge yet – crossing the Pacific. Our cell on their website bears the BRA logo and we cannot do other than wish the pilots a successful crossing from Nagasaki once the weather situation becomes favourable!
Recently we realized that our printed documentation (thanks to the ever-attentive Jo Brown!) was out-of-date, especially considering the changes in membership requirements. There is now a new Membership Application form, and we have also developed a Sponsorship Application Form which we hope members will distribute to any small firms who might be interested in advertising on our website. Finally, we have developed a Poster – this is rather special as it has a blank centrepiece which will enable our Regional Chairmen and their aides, to insert a flyer with details of the next local event. We would like you to help find local businesses, preferably ones that have potential members amongst their clientele, to put these posters in their window as a permanent feature – contact your Regional Chairman with details.
We have continued to subsidize events. In fact most Regional events are self-supporting and do not require subsidies, but we no longer expect them to make a profit! The result of our attempt to give you better value for your subscription money has been to reduce our reserves from CHF 39’202 to CHF 31’486. This sum remains significantly in excess of our requisite reserves which we currently estimate at less than CHF 12’000!
We still have a few tickets left (value CHF 70 discounted for members). You can see details on our web page for the event and the tickets are available from our secretary.
We have recently been advised by the Embassy that the procedure for British Residents overseas to vote in General Elections has been modified.
According to the latest information these rules will be applied for the referendum on U.K. membership of the EU.
Register now (if you qualify!) to ensure that you can vote then!!
To register as an overseas elector you must have been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years. You will also need to know your National Insurance number and date of birth. If you don’t have a National Insurance number you can still register, but you may have to supply more information to show who you are.
To be eligible to vote, British citizens living overseas must have been registered to vote in a UK constituency within the last fifteen years. For the first time in a UK General Election, those eligible can register online at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Those registering to vote no longer need to have their signature attested by Consular staff, provided they have a National Insurance Number (NI). Where an NI number cannot be provided or the personal identifiers fail verification, and where the Electoral Registration Officer cannot verify that person’s identity using local data, the applicant must provide an attestation to establish their identity. The deadline for registering online to vote is midnight on Monday 20 April 2015. Those who wish to register for a postal vote will need to register some time before this deadline. The earlier the better. The good news is that it does not take long!
You can also link to the Cabinet Office video with the Minister Sam Gyimah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbXxd-W4VjU
The Consular Winter Campaign is directed at British winter tourists spending their holidays in the Swiss mountains. David Moran, British Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein explains that “with our Top Tips to Stay Safe on the Slopes” we hope to make as many people as possible aware of specific dangers linked to winter sports so that their trip remains fun and trouble free. You can read more in this pdf.
The British Embassy in Berne is working together with Geneva Airport and the transport police of SBB, the Swiss Federal Railways to help British travellers keep their passports and belongings safe when travelling in Switzerland. More details are to be found in this pdf.
The Solar Impulse team has just announced the details of the Rounde-World flight of Solar Impulse 2 starting 1 March 2015. You can see all the details of this great Swiss adventure on their Website.
Your BRA Council has decided to finance one of the solar cells to support their crowdfunding effort. If you are interested in supporting this venture, go to their crowdfunding page.
There is a Press Conference in Abu Dhabi by Betrand Piccard and André Borschberg of the route to be taken by Solar Impulse 2 leaving from Abu Dhabi. In the run-up to the conference there is a brief account of the transport of the Solar Plane from Payerne to Abu Dhabi!
We have had a request from a British student who lived in Switzerland for 12 years to complete a questionnaire to help her with her dissertation about British migrants living in Switzerland!
We will publish the results when they are available.
Just complete the form at this address. There are 22 questions and it will take you less than 10 minutes.
BRA member Mike McKay is part of the team resuscitating World Radio Switzerland.
You can listen to his latest interview with the head of Investment Strategy for Barclays Banks – Hans Olsen on his website. (about the third screen!).
We have been made aware of the potential changes for those of you who pay tax in the UK.
There is a petition against this change and you can find all the details in our Information Portal in Section 4.