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1 February 2024 : 
Annual General Meeting

The meeting was opened with a welcome from the, President Ron Johnstone. He was pleased that

there were so many in attendance as last year it looked likely that the Society would have to close.

Apologies for Absence : Denise Pugh, Norman Pugh, Denise Shortman, Ian Imlach, Sean Garvey, Allison Garvey

Minutes of the 2023 Annual General Meeting were read by the Secretary, Diane Murphy.  These were passed as a true record.

Proposed : Eddy Murphy

Seconded : Robert Murray-Smith                          CARRIED

Matters Arising : None

Chairman's Report

The Chairman, Ollie Greensmith reported : 

As you know, last February’s AGM was potentially the Society’s last.  I had only recently rejoined the group, looking forward to the talks and chat about my favourite pastime!  I didn’t think I would be coming back from the meeting with a whole new responsibility but, following a busy year, I am pleased I put my hand up to help out!  I was unaware that the Chairman role came with the dual responsibility of ‘Show Manager’.  Leigh gave me a crash course and, with the Committee’s assistance we had a very successful Spring Show five weeks later with 287 entries from 58 individuals - a great turnout, despite the cold snap we had in the proceeding weeks.

The Committee voted to reintroduce the Autumn Show which had not been scheduled for 2023.  We managed to get a number of local businesses to sponsor our Best Exhibit prizes with £20 donations which added an additional incentive for people to take part in the show.  We saw a respectable 284 entries from 46 individuals, but the extreme heat in the run up, as well as on the day itself, might have put some people off!

In addition to the re-introduction of the Autumn Show, the Committee also re-introduced the Plant Sale in May which was a great success generating a £228 profit.  We had a huge variety of plants donated by our members which sold out over the morning, and a busy kitchen turning out bacon rolls. 

Throughout the year we ran “The Great Verwood Grow Off” for younger members of the community, and it was great to see the results on show day.  We will be running this again in 2024 and hope to promote entries into the shows by the schoolchildren of Verwood.  I think it’s important for the VDHS to foster an appreciation of gardening with the children around us, and promote inclusion via the Junior section – these are our potential members of the future!

In June we had our first outing for some time where a small group gathered for a guided tour around the Russell-Cotes gardens in Bournemouth.  The group enjoyed visiting the local garden with an insightful tour giving a history of the house and gardens with their unique microclimate, and how it is run today by a group of volunteer gardeners.

We have introduced a new website to help provide information on the Society, documenting our events, history and write ups of our monthly talks for anyone who has missed them. 

We have also increased our event advertising on social media covering Verwood and district from Ringwood to West Moors through to Alderholt and Fordingbridge.  We have seen an uptick in visitors to our events since we began this initiative, and on the back of this we have had a good few new joiners.  This is a great way to show the local community what we are doing and promote the talks and activities.

Our monthly raffles continue to generate income.

Most recently, we have set up our Bloom of the Month competition as a bit of fun for the members, giving an opportunity to show off our garden flowers in the months outside our 3 shows.  The Monmouth Ash has donated a £30 voucher for the annual prize for most points this year.

We are pleased that we have managed to keep the annual subscriptions at £15 despite rising costs.  Membership is up by 26% on last year and we hope to continue to increase this over the next year.  On the flip side, we are very sorry to have lost a few of our member friends this year.  Please continue to promote us with any friends and family in the area – it would be fantastic to see the number of members grow over 2024.

I am looking forward to the next 12 months of the VDHS – we have a great programme of talks scheduled, an early visit to Stewarts for a tour around their glasshouses later this month, our Verwood Through The Lens competition to choose some images for the Verwood Memorial Hall and two open shows.  Our Summer Show in 2024 remains members only, but if there is interest from the group we could look to reinstate a mid-year show in 2025

We continue to have the support of local businesses for both our Spring and Autumn shows in 2024 and have already raised an over £600 in sponsorship donations.  This means we can offer £20 Best Exhibit prizes for both shows this year, with some left over for next!

I would personally like to thank the committee members for all their hard work, commitment and support over the past year, as well as those who have volunteered their time to help with any of the setting up of the meetings and shows, and helping behind the scenes in the kitchen – your time is greatly appreciated.

Treasurer's Report

A statement of the accounts was distributed to members prior to the meeting.  We currently have 62 members and 49 were in attendance.

Proposed : Jan Alexander

Seconded : Tina Dickinson                 CARRIED

Appointment of Examiner of Accounts

David Hadden has agreed to examine the accounts for year ending 31 October 2024.

Proposed : Jean Stubbs

Seconded : Wendy Cook                        CARRIED

Proposed Changes to the Constitution

Discussion started at the AGM last year, but was not fully resolved. The Committee have discussed

altering the VDHS Constitution to help ensure the Society doesn’t find itself in the same position as

we did last year. Per the rules of changing the Constitution, we have proposed the below

amendments in writing to the Secretary at least 4 weeks before today’s AGM :

1. Removing the role of Vice Chairman

2. Reducing the Quorum of the committee from 8 to 6 members

Proposed : Eddy Murphy

Seconded : Diane Castro                        CARRIED

Election of Officers & Committee

As all Committee Members have agreed to stay on in their current roles a vote was taken to relect

en-bloc.  A volunteer to be Social Secretary was requested but no one came forward.

Proposed : Jeanne Johnstone

Seconded : David Townsend                    CARRIED

Any Other Business

The Committee have proposed to nominate Leigh Craig to become an Honorary Life Member for his

outstanding service to the Society. This was confirmed by a majority show of hands.

There being no further business, the meeting closed at 7.50pm.

The date of the next meeting will be 6 February 2025

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