Richard Cracknell elected BDCI president

The managing director of ABP, Richard Cracknell, has been elected president of the Butchers' and Drovers' Charitable Institution (BDCI) at its annual meeting.

He succeeds Douglas Noakes, who was unable to continue in the role due to ill health.

Cracknell, who had a very successful year as fund-raising festival chairman of the charity in 2006, said: "It's a great honour to be made president of the BDCI which is a charity close to my heart."

He paid tribute to Noakes and to Kathleen Dennis, wife of a previous very long-serving president the late Leonard Dennis, who had stepped in to chair meetings of the charity in the absence of Noakes. They would be a hard act to follow, he said.

Acknowledging it had been a difficult year for the BDCI, with changes in personnel and administrators, and redevelopment of the homes, Cracknell said he looked forward to working with the team and building on the success there had already been.

Chairman Susan White paid tribute to Dennis, who had died at the beginning of June. "It is almost 60 years since he first got involved with the BDCI so to me he was the BDCI" she said. Reporting on the year she said Dennis Clark, sales director of Towers Thomson, had raised more than £140,000 for the charity during his year as festival chairman

Treasurer Chris Oberst reported that, during the year, £195,000 had been spent in helping beneficiaries. The charity helps 141 pensioners and their pension had risen from £130 to £200 a quarter. "We do not add many pensioners but the numbers keep up remarkably well," he said. Other major expenditure included one-off grants to those in need, up 25% on the previous year. The average value of awards was £400, although several had been up to £1,000 each. Of 84 applications for help, 72 were successful. Nursing home top-up fees continued to be an area of expenditure, with four new applicants.

Redevelopment of the Smoothfield Homes site in Hounslow, west London, had seen a reduction in the number of flats required by the charity. "During the course of development, it became clear that the requirements of the meat trade were not great," said Oberst. Twelve flats have been retained by the charity on the site - people from the trade occupy six, five are let commercially and one is currently used as an office. The reduction in the number of flats from 30 to 12 meant that the costs of running the homes were relatively small for the charity.

Oberst said 2007 had been a remarkably good year for the charity's investment portfolio, with income increasing 18%. Fund-raising and gift donations amounted to £165,000 during the year and there had been an operating surplus of £163,000.

During the course of redevelopment of the Smoothfield site, a time capsule buried in 1968 was discovered. This contained various artefacts from the period including a then current copy of the Meat Trades Journal. The charity has still to decide what it will do with the capsule and its contents.

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