In December 2020, ADFAS Molonglo Plains committee arranged a live lecture, an exciting venture indeed as it was the first one held since lockdown. This took place in November, in a new venue for the committee, the Queanbeyan Bicentennial Hall. They also held their 2020 AGM before the lecture and both were followed by a delicious afternoon tea. A few words on how they fared in 2020 from Molonglo Plains membership secretary, Chris Costas:

“We had managed to hold one live lecture before lockdown but, like most other societies, had to make some hard decisions about whether to shut down and refund members or try to adapt to the challenges that COVID-19 presented. We chose the latter and proceeded to run a virtual society, with six video lectures plus a host of links to an eclectic range of free digital presentations. We knew that these were well received by some members but it was impossible to determine just how many were in favour and how many felt alienated. Our focus, of course, was on keeping ADFAS Molonglo Plains viable and ready to return to a ‘traditional’ format as soon as it became possible.

As the year progressed, and it became apparent that a live lecture might just be possible to finish the 2020 season with, we started a search for a new venue as the capacity of our previous one, the Queanbeyan Roos Club, was constrained by social distancing rules. Luckily, the Queanbeyan Bicentennial Hall was nearing the end of a refurbishment and would be available to us in time. And we had a lecturer immediately available, Charlotte Nattey, who is well known in the broader ADFAS community. Charlotte is actually a member of ADFAS Molonglo Plains and was, in fact, scheduled to deliver her lecture earlier in the year. This was to be From Gambling Chips to Imperial jewels: Jewels of the Romanovs and Charlotte was more than happy to present this at the new venue. We also decided to complicate the logistics by running our AGM as well!

So, we asked our members to reply to our invitation to both the AGM and live lecture. Our fingers were crossed because we just didn’t know what the response would be after so many months of enforced absence from the intellectual and social aspects of our lecture season.

We needn’t have worried as the response exceeded expectations. Exactly 100 people attended (including 14 visitors), many of whom were happy to sit through the AGM while waiting for the lecture. The event was a success and Charlotte’s lecture, in particular, was enjoyed by everyone. With this event, we feel that we have promoted interest in and, hopefully, loyalty to our society.

A good number of members have already subscribed for the 2021 season and, of course, we hope to attract many more. We have significantly discounted our membership fee for 2021, in recognition of our reduced costs this year, as compensation for the absence of traditional lectures and as a reward for our members’ patience and perseverance. And we have put together a full program of lectures from Australian lecturers for the 2021 season”.