R E V I E W A N D A N A L Y S I S 15 WELCOME MIKE BROWN, IHBC PRESIDENT Welcome to the IHBC Yearbook, now in its 21st wonderful year. Within its pages you will find a comprehensive guide to the world of heritage conservation, including a directory of members, affiliates and associates, articles on topical conservation issues, useful national and local addresses and details of many valuable conservation products and services. The last year has seen yet more of the ‘interesting times’ I referred to in last year’s Yearbook and I trust you have weathered the Covid-19 storm as well as can be expected. Many of us have lost loved-ones, friends and colleagues in the last year, and among them was David Lovie, past IHBC President, who served the IHBC so magnificently and with great humour in our fledgling years. A great loss. As you will know, the lockdown has restricted many IHBC activities and we have become used to operating in a digital world. Who knew in 2019 how well we would adapt? As I write we are still awaiting the delayed final stage of the lifting of the lockdown restrictions. Let us hope for as near as possible a return to normal times – tempered, hopefully, with many lessons learnt. But for now we still cannot meet in numbers and our annual school has had to be conducted online once again. Given the enormous amount of work the branch put into this (twice) I feel branch members’ deep disappointment but note the splendid array of speakers that they, nevertheless, lined up, and its huge success in terms of digital delegate numbers. If restrictions allow, there will also be a range of physical tours in September so please sign up and treat yourself to a weekend in lovely Brighton. I’m sure you deserve it after the year we have all endured, and the CPD hours will be useful, too! Despite the restrictions we have made excellent progress with two particular projects. The first is the establishment and now smooth running of the IHBC-supported UK-wide All Party Parliamentary Group on ‘Conservation, Places and People’. Under the chairmanship of Layla Moran MP, this has attracted great support from MPs and peers. It has already undertaken its first study and I am grateful to those IHBC members who took the opportunity to contribute. This promises to be an invaluable communications channel with Parliament. The second project, our ongoing governance review, is vital to the future of the IHBC. The new articles of association were adopted at our AGM and we are now working on the substance of the supporting new byelaws and regulations. The articles have enabled the restructuring of the IHBC’s governance to separate the roles of council members from those of trustees. We now have a small governing board of elected trustees and an advisory council with representatives from across our UK and overseas branches, our committees and panels, and including all member categories, all sectors of employment and the principal disciplines, as shown on page six. With the articles in place we have now convened the new governing board and I had the privilege of chairing the inaugural IHBC Council which was open to all members and debated its future constitution. This will feed into the forthcoming byelaws and regulations. It is my intention as your president to keep the future membership of Council as open as is practical so that it is ‘the voice of the membership’. Do join in. One idea discussed at our inaugural council meeting was that the IHBC applies to become a chartered body. This was greeted with considerable enthusiasm by those in attendance. However, we are conscious that this is the view of the more ‘active’ sections of the membership and that other members may not be of that mind. I wish to assure all members that the proposal is not a foregone conclusion; these are early days, much work has yet to be done and all members will be presented with the pros and cons in due course. There will be many more discussions at branch level and elsewhere before any proposition is put to members for a vote. In the meantime, the institute will continue to ensure that all new constitutional documents are prepared such that they are ‘charter compliant’ to avoid the need for any expensive rewrites should the membership wish to proceed to charterdom. A year ago in discussing these matters I closed by reminding members of the old Chinese saying that ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. I am pleased to report that, despite these turbulent times, that journey is now underway. Mike Brown is President of the IHBC (email@example.com), Director of Conservation & Design Ltd and head of the conservation service at East Herts District Council.