Code of Practice

Bristol and Avon Family History Society comprises Trustees, Committee Members and Society Members.

This Code of Practice sets out the relevant commitments expected of the members in their duties to which adherence will help to ensure the effectiveness of the Society.  This will maintain openness and accountability across the organisation and support positive working relationships between the Committee and Society Members.


The Management of the Society including its groups is undertaken by Trustees and Committee Members who are elected by and from the Society’s subscribing membership.


Trustees are the current officers of the Committee together with the 5 longest serving members of the Committee.  Further details can be found in the Society’s Constitution and the Charity Commission’s Handbook for Trustees.  The Trustees will be held legally responsible for what the Society does.


Officers are elected Committee Members holding the offices of Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary and Editor.

Committee Members

Committee Members are elected by the Society’s Members at the Annual General Meeting and hold office in accordance with the Society’s Constitution.  They comprise a Chairman, Secretary, Editor and Treasurer plus no more than 8 non-office holders.  The Secretary is responsible for all legal aspects of the Society.  For details on the responsibilities of all office holders, see Job Descriptions.   Further details can be found in the Society’s Constitution.  (see Website)

Post Holders

Post Holders are members who have specific responsibilities for areas of the Society’s operations.  These are not elected positions but appointments which are approved by the Committee.

Duties of Trustees

Trustees of the Society must:

  • Act with probity, due prudence and should seek and consider professional advice on anything in which the Trustees do not have expertise.
  • Administer the Society and all its assets in the interest of current, potential and future beneficiaries, making all decisions on the objective merits of the case and strictly within the terms of the Society’s Constitution.
  • Hold themselves accountable to the Society’s stakeholders including the public for their decisions, the performance of the Committee and the performance of the organisation.  They must submit themselves for scrutiny appropriate to their role.
  • Not gain financial or other material benefit for themselves, their families or their friends from the Society except where legally authorised; not attempt to use their status as Trustees to gain advantage within the Society; ensure that they abide by written policies on the claiming of expenses.
  • Not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals and organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.
  •  Conduct themselves in a manner which does not damage or undermine the reputation of the Society or its members individually or collectively and not take part in any activity which is in conflict with the objects of the Society or which might damage the reputation of the organisation.
  •  Make decisions together and take joint responsibility for them.  The extent to which any one Trustee or a small group of Trustees is empowered to speak for or take action for the Society must be a matter for all Trustees to decide together.  Such decision must be recorded.
  • Not discriminate with regard to age, gender, race, creed, colour, sexual orientation or physical ability. 


Duties of the Committee

The Committee shall:

  • Meet at least 8 times per year at a time and place which is convenient to a majority of them.
  • Formulate and review annually the objectives and strategy of the Society.
  • Ensure that the Society complies with regulatory and statutory requirements and exercises overall control over the Society’s financial and legal affairs with the assistance of appropriate professional advisers.
  • Have a commitment to the development and implementation of good practice.
  • Be familiar with, and keep under regular review, the Rules and Constitution of the Society.  Any changes must be made in accordance with Constitutional and legal requirements.
  • Attend Society Meetings regularly and develop a good working knowledge of the Society; attend Committee Meetings regularly bringing a fair and open minded view to all discussions and ensure that all decisions are made in the best interests of the Society and in accordance with its Constitution.  Any Committee Member failing to attend 3 consecutive Committee Meetings without good cause shall be deemed to have resigned from the Committee.
  • Ensure that minutes of committee meetings are kept, and that these are available for inspection by members.
  • Be as open as possible about any decision taken, giving reasons where appropriate and restricting information only when wider interests require it.  Where matters must remain confidential, the Committee must ensure that such papers are kept securely.  Any confidential discussion which takes place will be recorded in a Confidential Record Book.
  • Aim to foresee and avoid any personal conflict of interest with the Society’s business.  Where such a conflict arises Committee Members must at once declare their interest and absent themselves from any discussion or vote.  Any transaction where a Committee Member will benefit either directly or indirectly must have proper authority.
  • Ensure that confidential information or material (relating to members, volunteers, consultants, commercial or business bodies, etc) provided to, or discussed at, Committee Meetings remains confidential within the confines of the meeting and is managed according to relevant legislation. 
  • Take responsibility for all paperwork generated.  It is the decision of the Committee Members whether the paperwork should be made available to a wider audience.
  • Develop and ensure the maintenance of a properly constituted, balanced and competent Committee, including clear procedures for selection, training, retirement and, if necessary, removal of Trustees and Committee Members.
  • Decide how the Society is run, ensuring that it keeps within the law set down by the Charity Commission.
  • Discuss and make decisions regarding affiliation to other appropriate bodies.
  • Submit recommendations for Vice President, President and Honorary Life Members to the AGM of the Society.
  • Conduct disciplinary proceedings.


At present there are two Groups within the Society which report to the Society’s main Committee.  All the Society’s accounts, including those of the Groups, are subject to scrutiny by an independent examiner.

At Group Committee Meetings minutes must be taken.  These must be sent to the Society’s main Committee for inclusion within B&AFHS records.

No major policy decisions or purchases should be made without reference to the Society’s main Committee.  Group Committee Members should not sign documents which place the Society in a contractual situation without the permission of the Society’s main Committee.

Prior to undertaking any new projects, Groups should consult with the main Committee to ensure there is no duplication of effort across the Society’s Membership.


The Society’s current operating objectives are set out in the Constitution.  The Society’s main and Group Committees will review these on an annual basis and submit any proposed revisions to the AGM.  Such reviews can be conducted as necessary throughout the year.


All expenditure will be authorised by the Committee who will delegate spending authority to approved individuals. 

The Treasurer must ensure that accurate records are kept in line with the Society and Charity Commission guidelines.

The accounts will be examined annually and draft accounts submitted to the Society’s Members at the AGM.  The final accounts will be printed in the Society’s journal.  A monthly report will be submitted to Committee Meetings with a draft annual report to the last Committee Meeting before the AGM. 

Any cheques issued must be signed by any two of the authorised signatories.  Note: Signatories should not normally be from the same household.

At the first meeting of the Society’s main and Group Committees after the AGM, the Committee Members shall decide the cheque signatories for the coming year. 

The value of the Society’s assets is included in the accounts by the Treasurer.  A Schedule of Assets which are of no financial value to the Society will be recorded in a register which will be kept in the Society’s Archive.

Legitimate expenditure may be reclaimed by Society’s Members for authorised purchases made on behalf of the Society. 

Legitimate expenses may be claimed by members when representing the Society at events.  These must be submitted to the Treasurer for authorisation. 

Intellectual Property

All work carried out for the Society, resulting in the creation and / or publication of records or other material, shall be the intellectual property of Bristol and Avon Family History Society.

Disciplinary Policy

The Society expects its Trustees, Committee Members and Society Members to abide by its Constitution and Code of Practice. 

If, however, it is necessary to investigate a matter which is considered may bring the Society into disrepute, the disciplinary procedure will be followed.

The outcome of the decision could be withdrawal of membership and/or the Society instigating legal proceedings.

If a Member of the Society wishes to raise a disciplinary or grievance matter against another Member, he/she should follow the disciplinary/grievance procedure.

Emergency Policy

Emergency Procedures will be put in place with regard to the needs of the Society:

  • Cancellation / change of venue for monthly meetings
  • Cancellation / change of venue for Committee Meetings
  • Research Room closure
  • Loss of key personnel
  • Loss of assets, records or data


Archiving Policy

The Society shall establish an archiving policy to ensure the proper retention of all records in an appropriate format.


This Code of Practice will be reviewed at least every 3 years by the Committee.

This document should be read in conjunction with relevant parts of the Constitution and the Society’s Handbook.

There is an obligation of all members to support the trustees in the management of the Society in accordance with the principles of the Constitution and this Code.

The Society is grateful to the FFHS for allowing their model code of practice to be used as a resource for this document.

How to Join

Society membership is open to all family historians with ancestors or interests in the area covered by the society. We also welcome membership from people living in the area with no local connections, but who have a general interest in family history.

Members receive a quarterly Journal about family history in our area, the opportunity to attend meetings held at three venues most months of the year, and use of the Research Room. They can also list their surname interests in our on-line register and have a personal page showing all the surnames and places they are interested in. Access to the Register is available to all, but only members can have their interests listed.

The subscription year begins in APRIL. Applications for membership are welcome throughout the year, in which case journals already published that year will be supplied.


Membership subscriptions from 1st April 2014 are as follows:

Full Membership
(for those living within the British Isles)


Family Membership
(for two or more related persons living at the same address, sharing the same copy of the Journal, etc, but possessing individual voting rights)


Concessionary Membership
(for students in full time education or people in receipt of a retirement pension)


Overseas Membership
(for those living outside the British Isles)



Payment Option 1:

Download, print, and send completed form with payment which must be in sterling - either a cheque drawn on a U.K. Bank or an International Money Order. Cheques etc. should be made payable to 'Bristol and Avon Family History Society' to:

The Membership Secretary
49 Wedgewood Road
BS16 6LT 


Payment Option 2:

GENfair on-line payment: Overseas members have the option of joining or renewing on-line, and paying by credit card through GENfair, which is now incorporated into the online bookshop of the Federation of Family History Societies (UK residents may also use this facility but the overseas subscription rate is the only one available)


Payment Option 3:

Membership Renewal / Standing Order Payments

The March Journal each year contains a subscription renewal form (you can also download a copy here for printing). U.K. members may also choose to pay their subscription by standing order, and a form is supplied for you to send to your bank. Standing order payments should be sent to:-

Lloyds TSB at 15 High Street, Westbury on Trym, Bristol, BS9 3DA

Your reference on the standing order should consist of your membership number and surname.

Click for a form to send to your bank.


Society Officers

President - Colin Chapman

Vice Presidents - Rae Collins, Janet Hiscocks

Honorary Members - Jane Baker, Lynne Browning, Joy Holdich, John Watts

Executive Committee:
Officers: Linda Serle (Chairman), Gwyneth Dean (Secretary), John Lewis (Treasurer), Mike Slucutt (Journal Editor)
Other Executive Committee Members: Alan Bambury, John Crew, Peter Dainton, Patricia Holmes, Ken Mead, Francis Tripp, Mitch Carter (Sodbury Vale rep), Sue Dawes, Eileen Sims (Bath reps) 

Contact Details

Chairman - Mrs Linda Serle
27 Goose Green, North Yate, BS37 5BL

Secretary - Gwyneth Dean


Treasurer - John Lewis
BAFHS, c/o Bristol Archives, 'B' Bond Warehouse, Smeaton Road, Bristol,  BS1 6XN.

Journal Editor - Mike Slucutt
BAFHS, c/o Bristol Archives, 'B' Bond Warehouse, Smeaton Road, Bristol,  BS1 6XN.

Membership Secretary - John Crew
49 Wedgewood Road, Downend, Bristol, BS16 6LT

Open Day Co-ordinator - Mike Garside
192 Park Road, Keynsham, Bristol BS31 1AX

Project Co-ordinator - John Watts
3 Poplar Avenue, Stoke Bishop, Bristol BS9 2BE

Publicity - Geoff Gardiner
31 The Witheys, Whitchurch Village, Bristol, BS14 0QB

Postal & Internet Sales - Gaynor Woolley
9 Long Road, Mangotsfield,  Bristol, BS16 9HW

Strays Co-ordinator - John Crew
49 Wedgewood Road, Downend, Bristol, BS16 6LT

Webmaster - Dave Napier
17 Whitwell Road Hengrove, Bristol,  BS14 9DP

Bath Branch Contact
Sue Harrison

Sodbury Vale Branch Contact
Lynne English 

Advice & Guidance for your Family History Research

We do not offer a research service but we will try to give you advice and point you in the right direction.
If you are looking for help with your family history email:


Groups - Where we meet


The Society holds its main meeting in Bristol, with group meetings in Bath and Yate.

Most meetings have speakers and details are given on our events calendar.



Meetings are held at the BAWA Leisure Centre, Southmead Road, Bristol BS34 7RG. Normally the meetings are on the 2nd Monday of each month unless otherwise notified. The meeting itself starts at 7.30pm, but the bookstall, journal library and other services are available from 7 o'clock. No meetings are held in July or August.



Meetings are held at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 16 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HN, starting at 7.30pm on the fourth Monday of most months. Parking at Charlotte Street car park. Some on-street free car parking is available in the vicinity after 7 pm but otherwise Charlotte Street car park is pay-and-display about a 5 minute walk away


Sodbury Vale

Meeting held at St Nicholas Family Centre, Chargrove, Yate, BS37 4LG, on the second Wednesday of each month. The doors open at 7.00 p.m., and the meeting starts at 7.30. The speaker begins at approximately 8.00 p.m. There is no admission charge, but we welcome voluntary donations. Experienced members are always on hand for advice, and there is a fiche and viewer lending service. Refreshments are available.