From the Committee

Grayshott Gardeners Patron

Gordon Rae VMH

Grayshott Gardeners Committee 2023

PresidentGordon Rae
Shows CoordinatorPamela
Membership SecretaryJane
Programme SecretarySue
Plant SalesJan
CateringChrissi Dye

Grayshott Gardeners AGM

9th November 2022

Annual report by Chairman Mr John Price

2022 has been a unique year, it commenced with living under the fear of Covid, with members attending meetings in masks with chairs double spaced. But being hardy gardeners we did turn up.

For normality, the New Year flower count took place with an amazing 53 distinct species of flowers being found in Grayshott, despite the stones!

Your Committee underwent significant change at the last AGM. Following long service, the Chairman, Minute Secretary, Treasurer, Shows Co-ordinator and Plant Sales Co-ordinator resigned, followed later in February with our Secretary resigning.

With a much reduced committee this overloaded most of the committee, demanding a quick learning curve for those of us new to our roles, hence my consistent request for assistance.

A concern was, that as a result of Covid, there were limited plants laid down last year for us to sell this year at our main plant sale, which is a key generator of funds.  Jan who took over from Karen was facing an unrealistic challenge. Karen who had given us 12 months notice of her resignation, kindly returned to help Jan and along with Vanessa and members who supplied plants, helped us achieve the fantastic sales of £3,000 for the main sale, which was a major contribution to us financially breaking even for the year.

In 2023 Karen and Vanessa will be concentrating on Hidden Gardens, which we support by opening our gardens.

 As you know your committee made the difficult, but realistic, decision not to hold the main plant sale in 2023 due mainly to a lack of support. Since I announced that, a number of members have come forward offering to help. On that basis the committee has agreed to announce the plant sale will take place in 2023. However, not on such a large scale.

It must be emphasised our decision is based on all the help members have offered, which is critical if Jan is going to produce a worthwhile sale to give us a break even result for the year. We are grateful that Anne (past Chairman) and Jane have offered to help organise the Plant Sale with Jan.

With rising costs generally, including speakers costs, mileage rates and room hire increases, the committee has reluctantly concluded that we may need to increase subscriptions for 2024 to £25. When we will have gone 4 years without an increase, but it’s our view we must maintain the calibre of speakers, which is the life blood of the club. So, we may be asking for your support in voting for that potential increase at the AGM next year, to give us the flexibility of maintaining our target of breaking even each year.

There is one thing that hasn’t changed is Sue’s selection of high quality speakers, with which we have become familiar and enjoy. From Matthew Wilson who gave us his first live talk for 2 years about his Chelsea story to Ann-Marie Powell who designed some of the new gardens at Wisley, two superb keynote speakers. Sue has another good line up for 2023. Sue also looks after our web site, which gives members up to date information and possible new members a positive impression of the club, please use the site it has all the latest information about your club.

Judging by the figures, the videoing of our speakers is being well received with an average of 45 viewings per speaker after the event.

Thanks to you the members, the Shows Committee led by Pamela did a wonderful job in coping with the highest number of entrants for 10 years for the summer show. Sadly, due to the cold weather the Spring show entries were down slightly.  The prestigious RHS Bronze Medal was won by Gill Meech.  This is awarded to the exhibitor who gains the highest number of points across the Spring and Summer shows.

Some aspects of our computer systems were outdated and our new Treasurer, Alan, has brought a much needed skill to help us improve in the IT area. Helen has redesigned our Monthly Newsletter which has created a new house style for us, which keeps members up to date. Helen also ensures the village posters are produced to publicise our activities locally.  Gill our past President, has kindly taken on the role organising the Inter Village Cup entries.

We have re-established garden visits thanks to Vanessa offering to take on the role of Events Organiser. With three successful visits this year, Millais Nursery, the coach trip to Woolbeding Gardens and a private visit to Wisley, where we were also shown behind the scenes where  seeds are sorted for members of the RHS. This was enabled by one of their volunteers, and our very own Liz Munson. Of course we always enjoy our (annual) visit To Judith and Gordon’s garden with the amazing array of Snowdrops that tell us spring is on the way.

As a result of our drive to replace those members who did not return after the Covid scare, plus improve our profile in the village, we manned a stall at the Grayshott PIG day, Selling plants as well as gaining members.

As we have improved our marketing of the club with regular articles in Grayshott Today as well as other magazines, Jane was able to report at our last meeting membership levels had risen to 220.

Sally Hancock has joined us as Secretary and is also writing our copy for Grayshott Today and other local magazines with diary pages to advertise our programme.

Another non committee person most worthy of mention is Karen Cozens, who has been using her computer technical skills revamping our Handbook into a format which makes it easier  to update in the future.

The old warning “be careful what you wish for” came home to roost after the dreadful summer of 2021, when we all wished for a sunnier summer in 2022. Oh dear what a devasting effect the drought had on our plants and trees and lawns, not helped of course by a hose ban to complete this unique year.

From what I have said I hope you can understand, what has been going on behind the scenes, I think the committee has done a sterling job with what it has delivered, at times under difficult circumstances, often working long hours, way beyond what is reasonable for volunteers. On your behalf I thank them.

After all my appeals during the year to the membership, asking for volunteers to help the committee, may I thank the 14 members who responded to the leaflet appeal at our October meeting, which filled all our current vacancies, adding to our confidence in holding the plant sales, the committee are grateful for your response. it will enable us to deliver an ongoing and improving service to members. And for the moment no more appeals. Except perhaps for plants and help in spring!

There is one thing I would like to add, please do not forget those members many of whom are not on the committee who are the volunteers behind the scenes. They operate in the small room when we enter manning the tables with any activity they are involved in, like Rosario who runs the raffle, or those who will be supplying our refreshments after this AGM and do so at all other meetings.  They must be more important than me, because there were no complaints when the Chairman was missing, but when we stopped serving tea and biscuits, backbenchers were complaining,

Tea and biscuits keeps the club running smoothly, so thank you Chrissi and your team plus those who kindly cook the cakes for us, who together with Rosario and her raffles made just over £900 for the club.

May I say that, if the committee vote for me as Chairman for 2023, I am prepared to do so for one more year, retiring at the next AGM. A new Chairman will have to be elected for 2024.

Thank you.

The Engine Room