Whitby well known for its shipbuilding and skilled traditional boat builders, yet there were moves to award the contract to create all new internal woodwork (decking, thwarts etc) to a company based at Northumberland. I was one of a number of trustees which had serious concerns about the boat leaving Whitby and a fierce debate ensued. There was a level of animosity that I would never have expected and underhand tactics that would shame any responsible trustee. I was told by the Chairman in no uncertain terms that my involvement as a trustee was not what I believed it to be. It was explained that only those actively working on the boat on a regular basis were allowed any involvement in the decision making process, something which practically eliminated over 60% of the trustees? I am not (or was not) able to actively work on the boat itself but that did not mean I was not doing my bit. Designing, building and maintaining a detailed and comprehensive website for a charitable trust is not something to be taken lightly and as anyone with such responsibilities will confirm it can be a demanding and very time consuming task. I was also canvassing support for the trust from a list of my personal Rohilla contacts with one such endeavour netting the trust fund a £500 donation, but even so it did not make me any more of an equal trustee, how bizarre was that!
I cannot give a single example of the bitterness I received as there were so many, far more than I ever thought possible especially from the man who served as chairman and one who professed to being the driving force behind the whole project. I personally find his actions questionable at best, hypocritical at their worse, for a man of his standing to behave in such a way is unnerving.
A Sad Decline In Morals
I was adamant that as a trustee I had a responsibility to discharge my duties as a trustee to the best of my ability. I have no qualms in saying that I was one of those concerned about the boat leaving Whitby as I always held the restoration project as a Whitby based project, it could be said that I may have been the most vocal of those who had concerns. The level of deterioration amongst the trust was severe and the Chairman implied his position was untenable, his reasons being that he was against the trust putting the work out to tender and would have 'nothing to do with it' even though our obligation to the lottery board insisted we should have. The ensuing difficulties resulted in three trustees resigning their place as trustees of which I was one. Whilst one still retains a part time involvement with the practical work the remaining two have chosen to distance themselves from unsavoury elements of the restoration project. When I left the trust I agreed to carry on with the trust website as well as keeping a photographic record, so long as I was notified of any progress. In leaving, the trust was without the key roles of Chairman, Treasurer, and Secretary, but I expected to be made aware of who was taking up the roles. Some weeks passed by without any contact and I simply updated the trust website as best I could simply omitting who would be filling the key roles. Unfortunately this did not go down very well with the trust, as explained to me in a belligerent telephone call from the Chairman. I was issued a clear directive to amend the website revision to remove any suggestion that there had ever been any problems. As it was I felt I had been more than diplomatic, given the circumstances.
Part of the problems we endured was a host of information that was anything but truthful, one such key piece being the alleged timeframe's. It was always accepted that the decking was scheduled for September / October, yet for some unknown reason the ex chairman took it upon himself to change this to July. More importantly without the backing of the trust, and undoubtedly because it would rule out a tender able to carry out the work were the boat was even though it was common knowledge the tender had made it known he was away in July! There was therefore no question of there being any 'delays in finishing the job by the May /June deadline'. This ultimately left only one contractor, the one in Northumberland of which our trust treasurer was also the company and honorary financial treasurer. There was never any question about their ability to do a good job something all trustees tried to point out at trust meetings, but that does not dismiss the underhand tactics and dismal failures used to award them the contract.
Unpleasant Learning Curve
It has pretty much been a sharp learning curve on how false and remorseless some people can be. At times the antics were those one would expect to experience in a school yard, such was the pettiness. To be told I am not qualified to question someone's judgment or that someone could hold themselves so superior that their actions can go unchallenged is totally alien to me and something I find quite distasteful. I fully endorse a level of hierarchy within any organisation but I would not expect the team leader to demand unquestionable loyalty; it was after all a volunteer project not a regimental one? I was misguided into believing I was part of a team charged with overseeing the restoration project, not a follower of a one man band. What I held to be a group of equals actually turned out to be a set of circumstances where one man thinks he can rule without question. Had this been made clear at the outset I question whether anyone would have put themselves forward to become a trustee, no one man is that untouchable more so in today's world of equality. It became obvious that I no longer had any welcome within the trust and the lack of contact simply confirmed my standing to carry on with the trust website. This whole unsavoury saga has been complex and drawn out with some very questionable issues?
Petty, surely not me, Bitter, now I know its Not me
One might expect that with the passage of time, members of the trust might accept that we are best left to our own devices. I would gladly leave the trust to do their own thing if they could do likewise and leave me to simply follow the progress of the former lifeboat and capture photographs. Unfortunately that is not the case, the ex chairman made it clear to one of my friends that he objected to my having a front page photograph of the William Riley in the local newspaper, so much for any level of impartiality. It was he who once encouraged us that the trust was best left, run without emotion, possibly so yet on more than one occasion he did quite the opposite? There was only worse to come when I received what could only be described as a damming and misleading letter, a copy of which can be viewed using the link on the text below.
© Copyright © Colin Brittain 1999 - 2014\n