AGM minutes from 18th May 2018

The Friends of Jesmond Dene
Registered Charity No. 702260

Minutes of AGM
13 May 2018
2:00 pm
Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene

Yvonne Shannon, a member and volunteer, called the meeting to order by welcoming everyone present. She outlined the running order and handed over to the Chairman.

Apologies: Maggie Dowman, John Blakemore; there were 25 in attendance.

Previous Minutes (14 May 2017) Matters arising:
• Two of the four apple trees planted last November by Volunteers and children from Heaton Manor were vandalised; however, one of the Volunteers has attempted to graft onto them in the hope that they will survive and fruit in due course.
• A correction to the minutes – the Plant Stall on Armstrong Bridge is the 3rd Saturday of each month.

Treasurer’s report
Copies of the Accounts and the Independent Examiner’s Report were made available.

Summary:
• Lynda is stepping down as Treasurer; she thanked Geoffrey Carter (the Friends’ independent examiner) for his help and support over the past four years. She also wished her successor the best of luck; the transition will be made easier by Lynda’s handover.
• The accounts are straightforward with healthy balances in both accounts.
• A query from the floor re the ‘sundries’ item being the largest expenditure; Lynda reported that this comprised three training sessions for the committee as well as a donation to the Jesmond Festival.
• There had been a 30% increase in sales from the Plant Stall and sales through the shop – mainly of logs; Keith reported that the additional log store had helped with log sales.

Chairman’s report
Volunteers: The Chairman thanked all the Volunteers – Friends and Volunteer Rangers – for their hard work over the past year – including the Plant Stall, the Christmas raffle, guided walks, planting trees from the Rotary Club and work to digitise the archive (now over 1000 documents).
Picnic Field: The Friends have purchased 3 metal picnic tables for the picnic field; it is hoped that these will be installed for the summer.
Photo Competition: The Friends continue to support an annual photo competition together with local photographer, Neil Atkinson.
Parks Trust: The Friends have been involved in all discussions and consultation regarding the new Parks Trust and will continue to do so.
Position Statement: The Friends, through the committee, produced a ‘position statement’ following a survey of the dene. It outlines what we do, what we expect from the new Parks Trust and how we might work with them in the future.
Newsletters: A small subgroup of the Friends works hard to produce our bi annual newsletters; the next one will be the autumn one; many thanks to all those who contribute and edit.

Recruitment: The Committee undertook to recruit some new members earlier in the year and are pleased with the result – potentially three new members.
Patron: The Friends have been without a Patron for many years; however, we are now delighted to have John Grundy as our new Patron and look forward to working with him in the future.

Election of Officers As previously mentioned, Lynda Fean, the current Treasurer is standing down after 4 years on the committee. The Chairman thanked her for all of her hard work.
The Chairman asked if there were any nominations from the floor for the officer posts; there were none. Luckily, two of the existing officers agreed to put themselves forward to serve for another year and a new member agreed to be the Treasurer. The following were proposed, seconded and duly elected:

The Officers are: Chairman Clive Gerrard
Treasurer Jacki Holmes
Secretary Sue Stokel-Walker

Committee members: John Blakemore, Robert Brandt, Geoffrey Carter
Sarah Capes is the co-opted representative from Newcastle City Council.
Keith Pringle remains Honorary Membership Secretary.
Geoffrey Carter remains our Independent examiner for the annual accounts.

The Position Statement
The Chairman asked the membership present to approve the Position Statement put forward by the Committee; it was approved by show of hands and will be used in future discussions with the Parks Trust.

Any Other Business
Fallen Trees
Robert questioned the policy on leaving fallen / felled trees in the dene. The Chairman stated that his understanding of the council’s policy was to leave deadwood in situ provided that it was safe to do so and not in an inappropriate /unsafe place. Sarah agreed that that was the position; however, due to staff shortages and cuts to budgets, the park staff are unable to adhere to this policy. This means that there are a number of tree trunks currently in less than desirable locations.
Dawn stressed the importance of deadwood for wildlife habitat and encouraged us to not clear away all fallen trees; Sue assured her that the object was to clear the fallen timber to another / nearby location to decay – not to removed completely in all cases.
A member pointed out a dangerous tree in Paddy Freeman’s; Sarah will discuss that with him after the meeting.

The AGM ended at this point; Clive introduced John Grundy, our Patron, who proceeded to provide a very entertaining and informative talk giving examples of philanthropy in the northeast through the ages. Yvonne thanked John for his talk and everyone for attending the AGM.

Date and time
The date of the next AGM will be Sunday, 12 May, 2019 at 2:00 pm in the Classroom of the Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene.