Annual General Meeting 2020

Chair’s Report

Our first year as the co-chairs of Ashtead Horticultural Society has been hugely different from what we expected, with the extraordinary impact of Covid-19 on the whole country also seriously affecting the society’s activities.

For AHS, the virus meant the cancellation of our regular talks, the coffee morning and coach trip, and that it was not possible to hold either our Summer or Autumn Show in the normal way in Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall. We worked hard to ensure that we were able to go ahead with the Garden Walk in July – with Ginny and Jane doing an excellent job designing additional measures in place to keep everyone safe. Huge thanks to Karen and Steve Winder and Michael Lomax their support and sharing their beautiful gardens with us, we know was a very welcome outing for many of you. 

We felt that the online shows were a great success, and that view seems to be widely shared given all the positive feedback we have had from members. They were possible due to the development of this new website on a pro bono basis by Pragmatic, through Business in the Community, which enabled the judges to evaluate anonymised photographs of the entries and allowed us to display all the fantastic entries for members to view. The new website will also shortly provide the capability for members to pay the annual membership fee securely online. We hope that this will be more convenient for many people, and you will also now be able to send a cheque to the membership secretary. Although it will still be possible to pay cash to road stewards, we hope that most people will pay online or by cheque to reduce the need for any close contact given the Covid-19 restrictions.

As the Treasurer’s Report shows, this year has seen both reduced income (due to activities being cancelled) and increased costs (including the annual licensing cost of the software for the new website – the development was all done for free). The Committee has therefore proposed that we need a small increase in our membership fee, which has not changed for many years. We also propose to simplify the membership so that it is £5 per household (rather than the existing different fees for singles and couples). We think this still represents excellent value for money!

Looking ahead to next year, it is hard to know exactly what this situation will be with Covid-19, but we expect it will continue to impact on what we can do and how we do it. We have nevertheless planned a full programme and will update members on any changes or cancellations as required. The first two meetings will be held  on Zoom but after that fingers crossed we will be able to be back in APMH. 

We have also talked with as many members as we could about what sort of things you would like to see from the Society, and one consistent bit of feedback was a request for help and support to more inexperienced gardeners.  We therefore hope that you like our first two Zoom events of the year—a practical talk on how to grow and care for roses, and in March our very own Gardeners’ Questiontime!  This will enable you to tap in to the wealth of knowledge and experience of a fantastic panel drawn from our excellent exhibitors and committee members.

We would also particularly welcome any volunteers to open your garden for the Garden Walk in July. This is always popular, and members enjoy seeing a variety of gardens – it doesn’t have to be immaculate: our’s certainly wasn’t we hosted the Garden Walk! If you are interested, please email

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Scott and Gill McPherson, Co-chairs, AHS

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