Patron and Chairman’s Report
This is the last SGT Newsletter I am editing. Frustrating at times but ultimately rewarding when the various articles, events and commentaries are put together by Deltaprint in Sudbury to provide the good-looking finished article.
As we have said before our Newsletter is the envy of many other County Gardens Trusts and this is due to the early examples set up by Polly Burns, Nigel Surry and Tina Ranft. As with so much at SGT, together they provided an excellent blueprint for us to follow.
I will also be standing down as Chairman at the AGM in June. It seems almost a custom to hold the Chair for 4 years: it is certainly a good time to pass this on to someone with new enthusiasms, skills and knowledge.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my tenure. It is not just the honour of representing you at the various Gardens Trust’s symposiums and events in East Anglia and London but also the pleasure of being involved in the Capability Brown Festival last year and trying to tell all and sundry what SGT does and stands for. There is also the comradery of members while encouraging, noticing and promoting both gardens and landscapes through our County.
I set myself two particular tasks during my Chairmanship - to increase the membership numbers, and make SGT better known through Suffolk. I have probably failed in both: as much as I encourage people to join, others find reasons to leave; and friends still mention SGT to me as "that garden thing you do".
There has also been that well-known struggle in any such voluntary organisation to get members to come forward and help. New lifeblood is always needed and everyone has talents we can use - sitting through one of our Quarterly Council Meetings can soon enlighten as to the width of topics we try to cover. I always encourage any member to do something to help.
Of course I have learned a lot. Jenny even thinks I can now identify a few more plants, and I think my pruning techniques have improved. But overall I have learned what we do is important, not just in bringing like minds together, and not just by showing you the variety and wealth of wonderful gardens we have in Suffolk but also how we can try to take forward what is good for future generations but both recording and preservation. With this in mind I urge you to sign up for this summer’s garden visits. Most of these will provide you with an opportunity not available to others. For my own part, I hope to give some of my future energy to SGT research and recording.
I am reminded of a former BBC stalwart, John Ebdon, who used to end every broadcast with "and if you have been listening, thank you"; similarly if you have been reading the newsletters - Thank you.
CHANGE of CHAIRMAN 2017
After four busy years - Stephen Beaumont stepped down at the AGM which was held on 24th June 2017 at Shelley Hall near Hadleigh. Stephen took up the office without having first been on the council but he soon settled in and achieved much. Stephen - like Polly Burns before him, gamely served an extra year and both covered the additional roles of Newsletter Editor and Visits Administrator. The Capability Brown Day at Heveningham that Stephen led was a triumph. We gladly acknowledge Stephen's contribution to the SGT.
In Stephen's place, I was elected with Stephen helpfully as Vice Chairman. I aim to follow along the same lines - encouraging wider membership and helping the Trust to be better known through the county and with a clear identity. A Visits Administrator may be recruited before long.
Fortunately I have long experience of the nursery trade having spent most of my career in Notcutts Nurseries at Woodbridge. Additionally, I was head of the Flower Show at the Suffolk Show for many years and am still involved with it and with the Bi - annual Gardening Conference, the next of which is on November 2nd.2017. A member from the early days, i have been on the council for a number of years.
A major matter under consideration is an event next year for Humphrey Repton along the lines of the 2016 Capability Brown celebration while, before then, will come the Winter Lecture series. I urge you to support these informative, friendly gatherings ; the details are likely to appear in September.
I look forward to meeting even more members and their guests at various - thank you for electing me.