GCA Centenary AGM and Conference Celebrated The Past, Present And Future

“Central Hall Westminster is renowned as a place to bring people together, in 1946 the first meeting of the United Nations was actually held in this building,” said Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA in her welcome speech at the recent GCA’s Centenary AGM and Conference. It certainly was a powerful gathering which saw well over 160 members of the greeting card community – publishers, retailers, trade suppliers and affiliates – enjoy all the treats the packed agenda served up, and made the most of the networking.

Acknowledging the appropriateness of the Westminster venue, Amanda acknowledged that the association’s centenary coincided with the 100th anniversary of Nancy Astor becoming the first woman elected to take the oath and sit in the House of Commons, pointing out that the increasing role of women is also very evident in the greeting card industry today.

Above: In her welcome speech GCA ceo Amanda Fergusson updated attendees of the GCA’s recent activities.
Above: In her welcome speech GCA ceo Amanda Fergusson updated attendees of the GCA’s recent activities.

“We didn’t factor in the Extinction Rebellion currently taking place outside, but this of course also links into our agenda as we review what we can do to improve our environmental footprint later today,” said Amanda.

Amanda’s gave a whistlestop account of the GCA’s activities since she took over as ceo at the end of last year, including how it has built membership to close to 500 members (including representing over 15,000 retail rooftops), maintained a high profile in the media, forged ahead with initiatives including Festive Friday, Thinking of You Week and is all set to leverage the Cards To Keep campaign to a consumer level.

Above: Taking place in Central Hall, Westminster, fittingly the GCA shares its centenary with the Lady Astor being the first female to take up a seat in Parliament after much campaigning by suffragettes such as Millicent Garrett Fawcett, a statue of attendees walked past on the way to the venue in Parliament Square.
Above: Taking place in Central Hall, Westminster, fittingly the GCA shares its centenary with the Lady Astor being the first female to take up a seat in Parliament after much campaigning by suffragettes such as Millicent Garrett Fawcett, a statue of attendees walked past on the way to the venue in Parliament Square.

“The UK card industry is vibrant and varied; we’re living through challenging times but with so many young innovative publishers building successful businesses, it’s an exciting time. We estimate that GCA members turning over less than £3m contribute £250m to retail card sales, and that is without including the many large GCA members taking UK designed cards into retailers throughout the UK and across the world.  We should be very proud of our industry and its world-leading status,” said Amanda.

Above: The event saw the launch of a transportable exhibition to celebrate 100 years of the GCA through greeting cards of the last century. (Left-right) New GCA president Rachel Hare (Belly Button), outgoing president Ceri Stirland (UKG), Geoff Sanderson (Celebration Nation, who curated the exhibition) and Amanda Fergusson (GCA) in front of one of four sides of the exhibition panels.
Above: The event saw the launch of a transportable exhibition to celebrate 100 years of the GCA through greeting cards of the last century. (Left-right) New GCA president Rachel Hare (Belly Button), outgoing president Ceri Stirland (UKG), Geoff Sanderson (Celebration Nation, who curated the exhibition) and Amanda Fergusson (GCA) in front of one of four sides of the exhibition panels.

Among the speakers and panelists who took to the stage on the day were Olly Tress, founder of Oliver Bonas (see separate story); Julian Royle of Royle Publications and Paul Woodmansterne, md of Woodmansterne who superbly covered the GCA’s history through some of its many achievements and Geoff Sanderson, founder of Celebration Nation shared how the 100th anniversary exhibition came about and his take on the industry’s next 100 years. Sainsbury’s buyer Carly Pearson, Waterstones’ buyer Hazel Walker, House of Cards’ co-owner, Miles Robinson joined Woodmansterne’s Adam Osbourne and The Art File’s Ged Mace made up a panel who discussed environmental issues in the afternoon session.

Here is a photographic flavour of the wonderful day…

Above: In support of the GCA’s centenary, the Isle of Man Post Office is dedicating this year’s Christmas stamp collection to greeting card art, submitted by GCA publisher members. On behalf of the isle’s Post Office, Ben Glazier, md of Glazier Design presented the GCA with a valuable commemorative set of the stamps, accepted by Rachel Hare, GCA president (and donator of one of the designs) and Geoff Sanderson (of Celebration Nation who co-ordinated the stamp project on behalf of the GCA and Isle of Man Post Office).  
Above: In support of the GCA’s centenary, the Isle of Man Post Office is dedicating this year’s Christmas stamp collection to greeting card art, submitted by GCA publisher members. On behalf of the isle’s Post Office, Ben Glazier, md of Glazier Design presented the GCA with a valuable commemorative set of the stamps, accepted by Rachel Hare, GCA president (and donator of one of the designs) and Geoff Sanderson (of Celebration Nation who co-ordinated the stamp project on behalf of the GCA and Isle of Man Post Office).
Above: Enlargements of the stamp designs (which were created by Belly Button Designs, Carte Blanche, Cath Tate, Ling Design, Marina B Designs and Peartree Heybridge, were shared with the audience by many of the publishers who created them.
Above: Enlargements of the stamp designs (which were created by Belly Button Designs, Carte Blanche, Cath Tate, Ling Design, Marina B Designs and Peartree Heybridge, were shared with the audience by many of the publishers who created them.
Above: The afternoon session was a dedicated panel discussion on the environmental issues. The panellists (left-right) Miles Robinson (House of Cards), Adam Osbourne (Woodmansterne), Carly Pearson (Sainsbury’s), Hazel Walker (Waterstones), Ged Mace (The Art File) responded to pre-submitted questions as well as those from the floor covering all manner of aspects from cellowrapping to paper supply, finishes to labeling.
Above: The afternoon session was a dedicated panel discussion on the environmental issues. The panellists (left-right) Miles Robinson (House of Cards), Adam Osbourne (Woodmansterne), Carly Pearson (Sainsbury’s), Hazel Walker (Waterstones), Ged Mace (The Art File) responded to pre-submitted questions as well as those from the floor covering all manner of aspects from cellowrapping to paper supply, finishes to labeling.
Above: Former president Julian Royle of Royle Publications (pictured left with new GCA council member Mark Callaby), who has been involved with the industry since 1947 shared some of the challenges the GCA has confronted over the earlier decades – including overturning a greeting card ban during the Second World War - with Paul Woodmansterne highlighting some of the achievements of the last 30 years, such as minimising consumer confusion when Royal Mail introduced ‘Pricing in Proportion’ as well as clarity on charity cards. Julian was also a major contributor to the 100th anniversary exhibition, which includes a card design by John Strevens which was hugely popular in the 1960s.
Above: Former president Julian Royle of Royle Publications (pictured left with new GCA council member Mark Callaby), who has been involved with the industry since 1947 shared some of the challenges the GCA has confronted over the earlier decades – including overturning a greeting card ban during the Second World War – with Paul Woodmansterne highlighting some of the achievements of the last 30 years, such as minimising consumer confusion when Royal Mail introduced ‘Pricing in Proportion’ as well as clarity on charity cards. Julian was also a major contributor to the 100th anniversary exhibition, which includes a card design by John Strevens which was hugely popular in the 1960s.
Above: The GCA has welcomed four new Council members Mark Callaby (Ohh Deer), Darren Cave (UKG), Daniel Prince (Danilo) and Karen Wilson (Paper Salad). Daniel is pictured here with Danilo’s new sales director Angela Anderson, formerly of Hallmark and Tesco.
Above: The GCA has welcomed four new Council members Mark Callaby (Ohh Deer), Darren Cave (UKG), Daniel Prince (Danilo) and Karen Wilson (Paper Salad). Daniel is pictured here with Danilo’s new sales director Angela Anderson, formerly of Hallmark and Tesco.
Above: (right-left) Scribbler’s John Procter with James Mace (The Art File) and Tim West (Second Nature).
Above: (right-left) Scribbler’s John Procter with James Mace (The Art File) and Tim West (Second Nature).
Above: (left-right) Richard Bacon (Loxleys), Paul Taylor and James Taylor (both of Cardzone) with Mark Janson-Smith (Postmark).
Above: (left-right) Richard Bacon (Loxleys), Paul Taylor and James Taylor (both of Cardzone) with Mark Janson-Smith (Postmark).
Above: Among the associate members who ‘took a table’ in the reception was Foilco. (Left-right) Foilco’s Paul Hornby and Emma McNiven enjoying a chat with Really Good’s Lisa Shoesmith (GCA treasurer) and colleague Fiona Burge. 
Above: Among the associate members who ‘took a table’ in the reception was Foilco. (Left-right) Foilco’s Paul Hornby and Emma McNiven enjoying a chat with Really Good’s Lisa Shoesmith (GCA treasurer) and colleague Fiona Burge.
Above: Woodmansterne’s Kate Leach and Mark Timlett were delighted to see one of the publisher’s early art designs included in the 100th anniversary exhibition.
Above: Woodmansterne’s Kate Leach and Mark Timlett were delighted to see one of the publisher’s early art designs included in the 100th anniversary exhibition.
Above: The exhibition team (right-left) Helen Snell of Orchard House Design whose company donated the design time, Celebration Nation’s Geoff Sanderson who curated it and Raj Arora of Davora whose sibling company produced the canvas display panels and transportable frame.
Above: The exhibition team (right-left) Helen Snell of Orchard House Design whose company donated the design time, Celebration Nation’s Geoff Sanderson who curated it and Raj Arora of Davora whose sibling company produced the canvas display panels and transportable frame.
Above: Ceri Stirland was presented with a bouquet of flowers as a token of appreciation for all her work as president and longstanding council member. Her colleague Darren Cave (right) has just joined the council thereby maintaining a UKG presence.
Above: Ceri Stirland was presented with a bouquet of flowers as a token of appreciation for all her work as president and longstanding council member. Her colleague Darren Cave (right) has just joined the council thereby maintaining a UKG presence.
Above: A surprise element was the presentation of two special framed artworks by (centre) David Hicks of Really Good/Soul to Max Publishing’s Warren Lomax and Jakki Brown to thank them for their contribution to the GCA over the last 25 years. Warren was given a bespoke Bright Side design while Jakki received a stunning piece of artwork that had been specially created by Belly Button Desgns.
Above: A surprise element was the presentation of two special framed artworks by (centre) David Hicks of Really Good/Soul to Max Publishing’s Warren Lomax and Jakki Brown to thank them for their contribution to the GCA over the last 25 years. Warren was given a bespoke Bright Side design while Jakki received a stunning piece of artwork that had been specially created by Belly Button Desgns.
Above: Lizzie Parker (right) and Carte Blanche’s Grace Elphinstone (left) joined others in looking at the exhibition, which is now available to be used by GCA members and other interested parties.
Above: Penguin Ink’s Lizzie Parker (right) and Carte Blanche’s Grace Elphinstone (left) joined others in looking at the exhibition, which is now available to be used by GCA members and other interested parties.
Above: The whole event was deemed a huge success by all of those who attended.
Above: The whole event was deemed a huge success by all of those who attended.

Top: Caroline Gardner’s Luca Bridges (left) and Carolyn Verderamesign in with the GCA’s Sharna Walters  at the historic AGM and conference reception.

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