More than 200 people, including trustees, committee members and supporters, attended the meeting in Oxfordshire on May 17.
Malcolm said: “We have come into uncertain times and for any business uncertainty can be extremely corrosive.
“There is a lot of hardship and many difficulties in our rural areas. This year, we’ve already given out more than £637k. Calls to the charity are running at the same level as 2016 despite the fact that we’ve not had the flooding problems we had last year in the north. That, to me, shows the work of R.A.B.I is growing.”
In 2016, R.A.B.I paid out grants of £2.1 million to 1,375 individuals and families. Of this, around £450k went to working people and/or dependants.
Malcolm added: “Last year our care homes received Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections. The results from Manson House put it in the top five per cent and Beaufort House is among the top one per cent of care homes in the country.”
Guests at the AGM included Lord Plumb, former president of the NFU, John Kinnaird, RSABI chairman, Nina Clancy, RSABI CEO and Charles Smith, CEO of the Farming Community Network.
Pictured above are Malcolm Thomas (left), Lord Plumb and R.A.B.I CEO Paul Burrows.
Sarah Dunning (right), whose farming family launched the highly-acclaimed Tebay and Gloucestershire Motorway Service Stations, was guest speaker at the AGM. The service stations follow a unique business model, working with local producers (including the Dunning’s own farm) to provide quality food and supplies to customers.
David Ottley of Blue Welly Farm also spoke about the help he had received from R.A.B.I. David courageously told the packed marquee about his mental health struggles. He said: “The money that R.A.B.I gave us kept the house running so the farm had a little bit of space and we could function. R.A.B.I helped me to focus so I could hear the birds again.”
A change to the board of trustees
This year marked the end of the first term for three trustees, who had been elected in 2013. Joshua Hosier and Chris D’Olley were both re-elected for a second term.
Sadly, Pat Davies stepped down from her role as a trustee. She said: “It’s been a humbling and very rewarding experience that I’ve undertaken these past four years. I’ve met inspirational people and shared some amazing experiences.”
Former R.A.B.I chairman Chris Riddle also became a vice-president.
Final words from Lord Plumb
Lord Plumb paid tribute to R.A.B.I by saying: “It’s encouraging to see so many people at R.A.B.I doing this great work. Listening to the speakers today I’ve heard them say the same thing: It’s those behind them, supporting them, who encourage them to carry on.
“Keep up the good work and keep helping those in real need. R.A.B.I may be needed even more in the future than in the past.”