Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held at Crowle Village Hall on Saturday 14 March 2015, commencing at 2 pm.

Present were Jan Vaughan, Chairman, Judith Doughty, Secretary, Roger Smith, Treasurer, and 50 members.

  1. Apologies for absence were received from Ian and Mollie McPherson, Robin Pearce, Andrea Fitzsimon, Becky Dale and Linda Marsh.
  2. To receive and adopt the minutes of the AGM held on 8 March 2014.


  3. Matters arising: none.
  4. Chairman's Report

    Mrs Vaughan wanted to look back through the past year, to remind members of what we had done, and to thank those who had worked to make the year a success. She wanted to start, in this year of the Group’s 20th Anniversary, by thanking all the members who contributed so much by their participation and enthusiasm; without them the committee would have long ago thrown away their phones and computers and gone to have a sulk in the shed.

    She had taken on the role of Chairman at a very sad time when Bev Drewitt’s health had deteriorated, and we lost our dear friend not long after. The Committee she joined had held the fort brilliantly, and she wanted to thank them for enabling a smooth handover, particularly Judith who was now stepping down as Secretary, but whose guidance had been invaluable to her.

    We had enjoyed a rich and varied programme over the past year and she wished to thank Wendy Richards and Margaret Stone for hosting coffee mornings, the damp weather serving only to intensify the colours and scents of their wonderful gardens. Thanks were due too, to Sue Chitty for organising coach trips to Bretforton Manor in May and to Ashwood Nursery and Preen Manor in September.

    In May John McGhee had masterminded another HPS display at the re-named Malvern Spring Festival, this time showcasing the work of the Conservation Scheme. He and David Pollitt had constructed the stand, Nicola Content had devised the planting scheme, Helen Mount had brought information about the scheme and conservation plants grown by HPS members, with many other plants again provided by Bob Brown. The members who had helped to man the stand over the four days of the Show had enjoyed talking to visitors and telling them about the HPS.

    In June we had had another very successful Plant Sale, showing what green fingers members had, to produce such a wonderful array of plants for sale, and adding a substantial sum to Group funds. Many thanks to the team of Kathryn Elrick-Smith, David Pollitt, Marilyn Wrightson, Roger Smith, Julia Dale, Margaret Lewis and Linda Nicholls and all the volunteers.

    John and Leslie Bryant had hosted our summer garden party in July; they held their nerve when there was a sudden deluge before everyone arrived, but the sun came out and we had enjoyed an evening of good company in their lovely garden.

    Mrs Vaughan reported changes to the Committee: Judith Doughty, Kathryn Elrick-Smith and Julia Dale were stepping down; she thanked them for their commitment and hard work. She was pleased to say that Julia was willing to continue co-ordinating refreshments at our meetings.

    She also thanked Marilyn Wrightson for handling publicity, Judith Davis for organising our programme of events and running the raffle at meetings, to Roger Smith for taking on the task of Group Treasurer, and Mick Dunstan for choosing and booking speakers, and encouraging us to stage a Celebrity Lecture with Anna Pavord last month which had been a great success. Mick had also been engaged on his ‘Over the Garden Wall’ project, visiting and recording a number of our members' gardens through the seasons and those present were looking forward to the first instalment that afternoon. Thanks were due also to Colin Doughty for his work on our website which Mrs Vaughan thought was one of the best of the HPS local and specialist group sites.

    Finally we had been well looked after by caretaker, Rob Skinner, in our new permanent home at Crowle, and Mrs Vaughan expressed gratitude to him and his wife.

  5. To receive and adopt the accounts for the financial year ended 31 December 2014.

    Group Treasurer Roger Smith summarised the financial position of the Group by saying that there was a small deficit of £258 this year following several years of surpluses. However the cost of the microphone and banners of £239 had been written off and we had spent about £500 more on our speakers, whose costs had increased to £1536. The deficit was therefore planned rather than forced on us, was expected and was not a problem. The balance sheet showed that our financial position was sound with assets of over £6600.

    He then reported on the income and expenditure account, which showed income was £2670, less than 2013 by £350, but two non recurring items in 2013 had totalled over £500, and our recurring income was more or less the same. Subscriptions of £1063 represented 85 members at £12.50 each. Four members had decided not to renew their membership but new members had joined and current membership was around 90. The surplus on our plant sale was £596 after expenses of labels, printing and hall rent, almost the same as 2013. The surplus on donated plants was £322, nearly three times that of £116 in 2013.

    Expenses had increased by over £700. The cost of speakers was £1536, and was about

    half of our total expenses having increased by £500. Microphones and banners were a one-off cost which would not be repeated. The display boards had now been completely written off. Officers' expenses included £40 for the estimated cost of letters etc sent by himself encouraging members to pay subscriptions by standing order. Other expenses were modest.

    The balance sheet showed that bank balances were over £6000 and a deposit of £1100 had been paid to the hotel in Harrogate where members going on the 2015 garden tour would be staying. Creditors included £466 for tickets sold for the Anna Pavord lecture.

    The five year summary gave the key figures for that period and showed that our membership had been increasing. 'Other expenses' was the total of sundries and Officers' expenses and website fees.

    Mr Smith concluded by saying that the Group's finances were in good shape but would be reduced by spending on the celebration of our twentieth anniversary in 2015 and by probable increased costs of speakers. He anticipated and expected a much larger deficit in 2015.

    2015 subscriptions had all been paid, the vast majority by standing order. There were a few occasions where the bank had not processed standing orders correctly and these had been resolved. New members were asked to pay by standing order if they could.

    Mr Smith was pleased to answer any questions members might have. There were none.

    Proposer: John McGhee

    Seconder: Richard King


  6. Election of Officers

    Jan Vaughan and Roger Smith, having each served for one year as Chairman and Treasurer, offered themselves for re-election.

    Proposer: Alwyn Stanley

    Seconder Katherine Elrick-Smith


    Judith Doughty, having served for three years, did not offer herself for re-election. Lyn Maile offered herself for the office of Secretary.

    Proposer: Judith Doughty

    Seconder: Jan Vaughan


    There being no other nominations, they will serve for twelve months.

  7. Election of Committee

    Marilyn Wrightson, having served for more than three years, offered herself for re-election.

    Proposer: Jackie Davies

    Seconder: Mick Dunstan


    Judith Davis and Mick Dunstan, having served for less than three years, offered themselves for re-election.

    Proposer: Judy Pollitt

    Seconder: Sue Chitty


    Katherine Elrick-Smith and Julia Dale, having served more than or for three years, did not offer themselves for re-election.

    Richard King offered himself to serve on the Committee.

    Proposer: Mick Dunstan

    Seconder: Jan Vaughan


    There being no other nominations, they will serve for twelve months.

    There remained a vacancy on the Committee. David Pollitt had since offered to serve, but after the nominations deadline. The Committee proposed to co-opt him for twelve months.

  8. Election of an independent examiner of the accounts

    Mr Jonathan Davies was proposed by Roger Smith and seconded by Vivienne McGhee.


  9. To approve a change to the constitution to allow for a single cheque signatory for amounts up to £50.

    The Treasurer proposed that Clause 6 (Finance) of the Constitution be amended to read as follows:

    Delete: 'Cheques drawn on the account should be signed by two officers of the Group nominated either by the members in a General Meeting or by the duly elected committee.'

    Add:' Cheques drawn on the account up to the amount of £50 should be signed by one officer of the Group nominated either by the members in a General Meeting or by the duly elected committee. Cheques drawn on the account of an amount of or greater than £50 should be signed by two such officers.'

    Mr Smith said that this change was desirable in that it would enable the Treasurer to be more efficient in the running of the Group's finances and give a more up to date picture of them. The National Treasurer and National Group Co-ordinator had raised no objection. Some local groups already had such an arrangement.

    Proposer: Roger Smith

    Seconder: Colin Doughty


  10. To transact any other business of which 21 days' notice had been given: none.

The meeting closed at 14.17.

Judith Doughty, Secretary