Minutes of 2018 Wild Flower Society A.G.M.

The minutes for the AGM held on 1st Sepetmber 2018 at Slapton Field Studies Centre can be downloaded here:

2018 AGM Minutes.doc

The document is in Microsoft Word format(1997 to 2003) but will be accepted by later versions. If you don't have Microsoft Word then the full minutes are set out below:


Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held at 2pm on Saturday 1st September 2018 at Slapton Ley Field Studies Centre, Slapton, Kingsbridge, Devon TQ7 2QP

John Swindells welcomed our President Sir Ghillean Prance and other members to the Members’ Weekend in Slapton and thanked Sheila Wynn for the organisation of the weekend.

Present: Sir Ghillean Prance (President), John Swindells (Chairman), Robin Blades (Treasurer), Sheila Wynn (General Secretary), Anne Kell (Magazine Editor), Janet John (Meetings Secretary), Nichola Hawkins (Publicity Secretary), Judith Cox, Nicola Dixon and Jill Oakley (Committee Members) and 44 other members.

1. Apologies for absence: Brian and Helen Bonney, Julie Clarke, Doug Grant, Catharine Haines, Pippa Hyde, Peter Jepson, Geoffrey Kitchener, Pamela Lee, Lizzie Maddison, Sue Poyser, Mary and Claire Smith

2. Minutes of the AGM held on 2nd September 2017 The minutes published in the Winter 2018 Wild Flower Magazine were approved as a true record.

3. Matters Arising None

4. Financial Matters

Robin Blades reported that the large fall in subscription income in 2017 is because the revised timing of the Magazine led to the later issue of the 2018 renewal form not because membership numbers have fallen; it will be back to normal in 2018. Gift Aid had been unusually high in 2016 because we had been able to claim on some large donations. Since we received the large legacy from Dr Chicken in 2012 we have been following a plan to spend it over the next few years and we sold some investments during the year to fund this.

The cost of the magazine fell despite the increase from three to four issues per year. While grants were lower than in 2017, they were high in historic terms. We supported two important BSBI projects: the publication of their work, Threatened Plants in Britain and Ireland and recording in Ireland and Scotland for Atlas 2020. Smaller grants were given for research on Himalayan Balsam and Bee Orchids and our long established support for study days for Wildlife Trust volunteers and for young people attending FSC courses continued.

The value of our investments at 31/12/17, after adjusting for the sales, was up by 5.96% compared with 31/12/16 thanks to continued high share prices.

In 2018 we have supported two publications: a second edition of a work on the wild flowers of the Lizard and John Poland’s Field Key to Winter Twigs. Support for Atlas 2020, the Wildlife Trust study days and FSC bursaries is continuing and we have supported research projects on Hogweeds and Pale Flax. The EC has reviewed our Reserves Policy and agreed that in addition to spending the balance of Dr Chicken’s legacy we will aim to spend around 2% of our investments each year on our charitable aims.

In 2018 our investments have continued to increase in value and, even though we have sold another £3000 worth, their value of £137962 is more than at 31/12/17. The like-for-like increase is 3.45%. However the income yield from the investments is falling.

Robin thanked Sue Poyser for the excellent job she does as Membership Secretary including the extra work this year to meet GDPR requirements. Membership was 620 at 31/12/17, up by 15 in the year, and is currently up to 641.

The meeting approved the adoption of the accounts.

Robin thanked Bob Holder for carrying out the independent examination of the 2017 accounts and proposed his re-election. This was agreed.

Robin went on to express his sorrow to hear of the death in May at the age of 91 of Tom Fowler who was our Independent Examiner for 19 years.

5. Officers’ Reports


Anne Kell reported that the magazine is continuing to evolve, with the most significant change this year being the introduction of the separate Year Book. This has been well received and will continue into future years.

Anne thanked her proof-readers, John Swindells and Rodney Burton, as well as all the contributors and said how fortunate she is as an editor to have too much copy rather than too little. However, with the constraints of magazine size, this means that some articles are having to be held over and are appearing somewhat later than she would like. Anne apologised to all those affected, but asked that they keep the articles coming, especially those of a more general nature as she would still like to have a wider range of articles beyond the Meetings Reports for example: My Favourite Plant, A Place of Special Botanical Interest, Ways of Identifying Specific Plants, Entertaining Moments etc. They all add variety to the magazine and reflect the interests of our members. She asked people to consider taking some pictures at meetings to accompany their reports: overviews, specific plants, people botanising etc.

She finished by reminding us that the magazine is only ever going to be as good as the articles we submit and said that any ideas for future magazines are always welcome.

Meetings Secretary

Janet John started by thanking Anne Kell for producing the Year Book, as showing the Meetings Programme in a separate booklet has been a very helpful development.

Janet reported that it had been another successful and enjoyable year for WFS meetings. There have been eight Main Meetings of two or three days, and twenty eight one-day Meetings. There was the odd hiccup with the meeting at Cookham Marsh having to be postponed until next year when it was realised that it was on the same day and in the next field to the “Let’s Rock the Moor” Music Festival, and likewise a late season meeting at Monk’s Wood NNR was shelved for the time being as the flowers had been and gone. However despite the challenging conditions of late spring and the blazing summer all the other meetings were rewarding.

Two and three day meetings in particular have been well supported. The one day meetings in general attract a more local support and are often where new members start their Field Meeting experience, gaining confidence and getting to know us.

The meetings in Kent and Hampshire were a series of one day meetings in locations not too far apart that could be enjoyed as a longer meeting. This seemed to work well and Janet said that she plans to try again, if possible, to have meetings close in location and timing in next year’s schedule.

Janet reported that the season started with a Poland meeting in January in Ipswich led by Stephen Clarkson. This was a workshop day with lenses and microscopes using vegetative keys. A good learning experience but more than that - a chance to meet up, catch up and have fun. Since then there have been opportunities to botanise in Kent, Gloucestershire, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Brecknockshire, Hampshire, Perthshire, Northumberland, Somerset, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Oxfordshire and Essex. We have botanised on an island - Holy Island; mountain tops - Ben Lawers at 3983ft being the highest; chalk downs; bogs and marshes; around lakes; on the beach; a limestone pavement in Silverdale; and in quarries.

She went on to say that there are so many people to thank for giving their time, sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm, encouraging budding botanists and satisfying the curiosity and interest of the experts. We will all have special plants we have met for the first time, or reconnected with, on meetings this year. Personal ones for her include the Man Orchid in Kent, the Wild Gladiolus and Field Cow-wheat in Hampshire and the Drooping Saxifrage at the top of Ben Lawers. She encouraged anyone who has never attended a meeting to do so. They are always memorable, you always see something that delights and it is a pleasure to spend time with like-minded people.

Janet said that one of her objectives is to get more of our membership participating in Field Meetings. Out of a total membership of over 600, we have had 140 attending Field Meetings this year. She urged members to attend, and encourage others to come along, saying that the meetings are relaxed, supportive, open to all abilities and inclusive.

Janet thanked everyone who had responded to her request at last year’s AGM for suggestions of locations and leaders and said that this year she was again hoping to receive ideas and offers.

Publicity Secretary

Nichola Hawkins reported that the membership leaflet has been reprinted to take account of the requirements of GDPR. She asked members to destroy any old ones they still have and to pick up new ones during the weekend.

She reminded members about the WFS T-shirt which can be obtained from www.streetshirts.co.uk

Nichola reported that she had again exhibited our materials for children’s activities at the BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting last November and would be doing so again this year. She reminded members that if they would like to run a stall at an event near them, she could provide materials for plant-related quizzes and children’s activity worksheets.

She has been involved in producing the monthly Spotter Sheets for children as part of the Herbology Hunt on the BSBI’s Wildflower hour site.

General Secretary

Sheila Wynn thanked Andy Byfield for all his help in the planning of the weekend. As well as organising and leading the meetings for Sunday and Monday, he was also to give the afternoon’s talk on ‘Saving Rare Plants in the South-west.’

She also thanked John Swindells for agreeing to lead Saturday morning’s walk and local botanists Tim Purches and John Day who helped.

She reported that this summer has seen the introduction of the new regulations regarding Valhalla diaries and thanked Branch Secretaries for agreeing to take on the extra work this involves. To support Branch Secretaries if they come across diary entries about which they are uncertain, there is a referee panel consisting of former Valhalla secretaries Peter Jepson, Heather Colls and Pippa Hyde, who are happy to be consulted.

Of the other Valhalla secretaries, Nick Rumens and Rachel Rabey have retired and John Swindells will receive the diaries of any Branch Secretaries who are themselves in Valhalla.

Following Chris Pogson’s retirement as Secretary for Parnassus 1, Rodney Burton has taken over his role. Ted Pratt has taken over from Rodney as Parnassus 2 Secretary.

Sheila thanked Chris and all the Branch Secretaries for all their work over the years. They perform an invaluable role in maintaining contact with members as well as helping them to improve their botanical skills. She also thanked the Competition Secretaries for all that they do.

This year has brought two changes to the General Members of the Executive Committee. After being elected at last year’s AGM, Jackie Hardy realised that her other commitments made it impossible for her to get to any committee meetings, so she reluctantly resigned.

Judith Cox is now retiring from the committee, having completed her 4 year term. Sheila thanked her for all her help and input during that time.

Nicola Dixon was thanked for running the WFS Alerts email service which has continued to be very popular and now has over 130 members.

Sheila then went on to pay tribute to John Swindells for everything he has achieved during his eleven years as Chairman.


John Swindells thanked members of the Executive Committee, Branch and Competition Secretaries, Meeting Leaders and writers of magazine articles for all their contributions.

He reported the sad news of the death in August of Rosemary Booth. She was one of our longest- standing members, having been enrolled in 1932 at the age of three by her mother, Violet Schwerdt, who was the daughter of the founder of the WFS. Rosemary supported her mother in the administration of the Society and was its treasurer for a time. Last year she donated a complete bound set of all the Society’s magazines until 2016. These are now housed in the Linnean Society’s library and are available for consultation.

6. Photographic Secretary

Ken Southall thanked the nine members who had submitted 73 photographs for the competition and commented on the high standard of entries. This year the photographs were again judged by a panel consisting of Bill and Carol Hawkins and Stella Taylor. He announced that the Violet Schwerdt Cup for the best entry had been awarded to David Rich for his photo of Hazel catkins (Corylus avellana).

He said that there were a good number of entries this year for the ‘Shoot and Show’ category. The 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 Gareth Bursnall for his picture of Fortune’s Holly-fern (Cyrtomium fortunei), showing the indusia on the underside of the frond.


Peter Llewellyn reported that the website had been updated so that it was now more secure and mentioned that if, anyone had saved links to the website, these may no longer work. He said that the list of all British plants on the site, which includes approximately 7,800 plants that have at some time been recorded in Britain, will have to be updated when the 4th edition of Stace’s New Flora is published. He said that the process of updating the names of hybrids, based on the new Hybrid Flora is ongoing and is likely to take some time. Peter encouraged members to join the new WFS Facebook page which now has over 500 members.

7. Election of Officers

Peter Llewellyn was elected unopposed as the new Chairman to fill the vacancy caused by the retirement of John Swindells.

The following were re-elected unopposed: President: Sir Ghillean Prance; Treasurer: Robin Blades; General Secretary: Sheila Wynn; Magazine Editor: Anne Kell; Meetings Secretary: Janet John and Publicity Secretary: Nichola Hawkins.

8. Election to the Executive Committee

Roger Heath-Brown and John Swindells were elected unopposed to fill the vacancies caused by the retirement of Judith Cox and the resignation of Jackie Hardy respectively.

9. A.O.B.


10. Date and venue of next meeting

The 2019 meeting will be held in Wolvercote, Oxford from 6th – 9th September.

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 presented this year’s award to Rosemary Parslow and Ian Bennallick for their excellent book, The NEW Flora of the Isles of Scilly.

Peter Llewellyn October 24th 2018