Minutes of the Wild Flower Society Annual General Meeting 2016

2.00 pm Saturday 3rd September at The Juniper Hall Field Studies Centre, Dorking, Surrey

John Swindells welcomed the President, Sir Ghillean Prance, and members to the Members' Weekend in Surrey and thanked everyone who had helped with the organisation of the weekend.

Present: Sir Ghillean Prance (President), John Swindells (Chairman), Robin Blades (Treasurer), Sheila Wynn (General Secretary), Pippa Hyde (Magazine Editor), Nichola Hawkins (Publicity Secretary), Judith Cox , Nicola Dixon and Anne Kell (Committee Members) and 51 other members.

Apologies for absence: Jan Armishaw, David Bevan, Julie Clarke, Elizabeth Elliott, Ro FitzGerald, Catherine Haines, Lorna and Derek Holland, Helen Jackson, Geoffrey Kitchener, Chris Pogson, John Poland and Rachel Rabey

Minutes of the 2015 AGM: The minutes published in the Spring 2016 Wild Flower Magazine were approved as a true record.

Matters Arising: None

Financial Matters: Robin Blades said that the 2015 accounts were circulated with the last Magazine. General fund receipts included donations totalling £1,290 from a long standing member. Printing expenditure included a reprint of the diary. General fund expenditure exceeded receipts by £3,314 compared with £4,709 in 2014 because of a transfer to the Grants and Development Fund. This means that Grants and Development Fund receipts were £655 more than expenditure in 2015 compared with excess receipts of £1,926 in 2014.

Total payments exceeded receipts by £2,659 compared with excess payments of £2,783 in 2014. At the moment we are able to cover routine expenditure from routine income. The excess payments result from a planned policy of maintaining a high level of charitable grants as we aim to use the large legacy received from Dr Chicken in 2012 over a period of around five years.

We supported the publication of two county floras, Derbyshire and Devon. Our grants for study days for volunteers with Wildlife Trusts continue to be one of our main projects and we made a small start to our support for the BSBI Atlas 2020 project. There have been some short articles in the Magazine from recipients of the grants.

The value of our investments at 31/12/15 was down by 0.7% compared with 31/12/14 as a result of market movements. During 2016 the grants to Wildlife Trusts have carried on as before and we have supported some work on teaching adult novices to identify plants. We have been told to expect a higher figure for the FSC bursaries because of a change in the way they are being promoted to potential recipients. The support for the BSBI Atlas is really getting going this year with £3,700 promised for work in Ireland and northern Scotland. The value of our investments is now £132,452 up by 8.9% since 31/12/15. Robin thanked Sue Poyser for the excellent job she does administering our subscriptions and membership records. Membership was 628 at the end of 2015, up by 26 in the year, and is currently 606.

The meeting approved the adoption of the accounts. Tom Fowler was thanked for his work as Independent Examiner and was reappointed for another year. Tom subsequently notified the Executive Committee that he would like to retire as Independent Examiner.

Officers' Reports, General Secretary:Sheila Wynn thanked Pat Verrall and John Swindells for all their help with the organisation of the weekend. She also thanked all Branch Secretaries for their hard work on behalf of the members and said how much their contribution was appreciated. She reported that Helen Jackson has retired as Branch Secretary for Scotland, after holding the position for thirty years. Ro FitzGerald has very kindly offered to add Scotland to her increasing collection of regions in Britain and Ireland. Doug Grant has also retired as Winter Months Hunt Secretary, a post he has held since 2008. He has been replaced by Dorothy Ross, who has been a regular contributor to the hunt for many years. Sheila thanked Helen and Doug for everything they have done and also expressed thanks to Ro and Dorothy for agreeing to take on these roles. At the Branch and Competitions Secretaries' meeting the day before, Lorna and Derek Holland announced their intention to retire from their position as Spring Week Hunt Secretaries after next year's hunt.

Sheila went on to say that earlier this year, Pippa announced her resignation as Magazine Editor, a position she has held for the last 15 years. During that time she has done a marvellous job of producing the magazine, which is such a valued source of information and provides so much of interest to members. Sheila thanked Pippa, for everything that she's done for the society over the years and commented that she will be very much missed as a member of the committee. She then thanked Anne Kell who has offered to take on this key role. Anne's transition to magazine editor has left a vacant place on the committee for which Janet John has agreed to stand for nomination This year's new Committee member, Nicola Dixon, was thanked for her contributions and ideas and also for setting up and running the email alerts system, which now has over 60 members.

Officers' Reports, Meetings Secretary: Sheila Wynn thanked everybody who has contributed to making this year's programme of meetings such a success, especially those who were involved in the organisation and leading of the meetings. She reported that the six main meetings were very popular, all but one being almost fully booked and said that in spite of occasional inclement weather, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

She also said that there had been a good selection of one-day meetings in the programme as well as those local meetings that weren't advertised in advance. Many of these were well-attended although, disappointingly, the numbers for others were rather low. She asked members to support their local branch meetings, even when they have moved on to Valhalla. She reported that four two-day meetings had been fixed for 2017, with others awaiting confirmation and asked members for ideas for places to go.

John reminded members that the position of Meetings Secretary is still vacant and asked for volunteers to take on this job.

Officers' Reports, Publicity Secretary: Nichola Hawkins reported that she had a stand at the Bioblitz event at Brompton Cemetery in London, where she set up displays of the children's activity worksheets and organised identification quizzes. She thanked Julie Clarke, Sue Riley and Sheila Wynn for running a similar stand at the Wildlife Festival and Bioblitz at Smithills Estate, Bolton. She said that she had a box of materials for anyone who would like to run a stall at an event near them. She demonstrated the PowerPoint presentation that she has put together which could be used as a basis for anyone wishing to give a talk on the Wild Flower Society.

Officers' Reports,Editor: Pippa Hyde thanked Rodney Burton for all the help and support he had given her over all the time she had been editing the magazine. She also thanked John Swindells, her other proof-reader, Sue Poyser for always responding so tolerantly to her requests for information and Sir Ghillean Prance for his prompt Wild Flower Magazine 498 production of the President's Letter. She thanked everyone for the articles they had sent in over the years and said that she was delighted that Anne Kell had agreed to take over the editing of the magazine. Anne introduced herself and outlined some of her ideas for the magazine.

Officers' Reports,Chairman: John gave an overview of the history of the magazine and paid tribute to Pippa for the valued contribution she has made to its development. He emphasised the importance of the role, saying that the magazine editor probably has more contact with a wide range of members than anyone else. He reminded members that the Wild Flower Society relies entirely on volunteers and thanked all Officers, Committee members and everyone who contributes to the running of the Society.

In particular, he thanked Sue Poyser for her efficient keeping of membership records, Ken Southall for organising the Photographic Competition and producing the excellent displays of photographs, Stephen Clarkson for once again providing his challenging plant quiz and Peter Llewellyn for managing the website.

He also thanked the team of thirty-one Branch and Competition Secretaries and went on to say that at their meeting on the previous day, attended by twenty two Branch Secretaries, a radical proposal had been made. The suggestion was that once members start cumulative recording they should continue to send their record books to their local branch secretaries rather than having different secretaries for the different levels of Valhalla. The Parnassus branches would remain unchanged. Members were asked to let the committee know their feelings about this proposal which is to be discussed at the next Executive Committee Meeting.

Photographic Competition:Ken Southall thanked all the members who had entered the competition and commented on the high standard of entries. The photographs were judged independently by himself and another member of the Society. He announced that the Violet Schwerdt Cup for the best entry had been awarded to Marion Chappell for her photo of Anagallis tenella (Bog Pimpernel).

He also said how pleased he was with the number of entries for the new 'Shoot and Show' category in which members are invited to submit a photo that they didn't think good enough to be entered for the competition but thought others would like to see. Over 40 photos were on display and members attending the AGM were asked to vote for their favourite. Ken had donated a small prize, the winner of which was Jill Oakley for a lovely image of Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell).

Election of Officers:The following were re-elected unopposed: President: Sir Ghillean Prance, Chairman: John Swindells, Treasurer: Robin Blades, General Secretary: Sheila Wynn and Publicity Secretary: Nichola Hawkins. Anne Kell was elected to the position of Magazine Editor and Janet John was elected unopposed to fill the vacancy on the Executive Committee caused by Anne Kell's move to Magazine Editor.

Any Other Business:

Email Alerts Nicola Dixon explained the system of alerts for meetings. The monthly alerts will give information about new additions to the programme as well as details of upcoming meeting dates, availability of places and last minute changes. To sign up for the service, email WFSalerts@outlook.com

BuckinghamshireJanet John said that she was trying to encourage participation from members close to Buckinghamshire and encouraged people to support the meetings she was organising.

Car Stickers and Badges Sue Poyser said that she had car stickers and badges available for sale.

Date and venue of next meeting The 2017 meeting will be held in Llandudno, on 1 - 3rd September. Susan Grimshaw proposed a vote of thanks to the members of the Committee.

Presidents' Award:The Presidents' Award is an award made jointly by WFS and BSBI, chosen alternately by the President of each society.

Sir Ghillean Prance announced that this year the award has been given to Clive Stace and Mick Crawley for their book Alien Plants, (no 129 in the New Naturalist series). Unfortunately at short notice, neither was able to attend to receive the award.

Sheila Wynn

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