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.

• 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.

AGM info

Dear Members

As you will know, the Annual General Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, 8 May at 2 pm in the Classroom at the Visitor Centre in Jesmond Dene. I would like to make you aware of a couple of issues that we will be discussing on the day.

Constitutional amendment
The Committee wish to make a slight change to the name of the charity to better reflect the make up of our membership and the variety of work that we all do. We think that changing the name to “The Friends and Volunteers of Jesmond Dene” is a more accurate description of the way the charity works now and allows members to have different roles within the organisation.

We would also like to make one other minor change to the constitution (the current constitution is below) as follows. In section 3 Aims and Objectives we are suggesting the following change:

The objects of The Friends and Volunteers of Jesmond Dene shall be to improve, protect and preserve for the benefit of the public the area known as Jesmond Dene and the adjacent parks in the County of Tyne & Wear, and for this purpose, but not otherwise, the Friends shall:

The reason for this proposed change is to acknowledge that the parks are integrally linked geographically and to allow collaborative work to take place as and when required.

Election of officers and committee members
We will be electing the four officers for the charity – Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer at the meeting and are actively looking for additional committee members. If anyone is interested in standing for one of the officer positions or wishes to be a committee member, please get in touch with me at least a week prior to the meeting.

Many thanks,

Susan Stokel-Walker


Registered Charity Number 702260


The name of the organisation shall be “The Friends of Jesmond Dene”.

2 Membership
Membership of the organisation shall be open to all residents of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne and elsewhere.

The objects of The Friends of Jesmond Dene shall be to improve, protect and preserve for the benefit of the public the area known as Jesmond Dene in the County of Tyne & Wear, and for this purpose, but not otherwise, the Friends shall:
1. Organise concerted action and promote co-operation between Local Authorities, local societies and other persons.
2. Act as a centre for furnishing and procuring advice and information upon matters affecting the aforesaid object.
3. Arouse, form and educate public opinion in order to ensure the promotion of the aforesaid object.
4. Make representations at public enquiries or in such other ways as from time to time appear necessary.

The organisation shall be run by a committee of seven persons, four to be elected at an Annual General Meeting of members, plus two members of the Recreation and Leisure Department of Newcastle City Council who shall be ex-officio.
Retiring committee members shall be eligible for re-election.
The Committee may co-opt others providing the number of co-opted members does not exceed three.
At Committee meetings, four members shall form a quorum.

The Officers shall be a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasure, who will be the Trustees of the Charity. All shall serve for one year and be eligible for re-election.

The Officers shall act as a Standing Committee to carry on the business of the organisation between meetings, three to form a quorum. All major business requires consultation at a full committee meeting.

The organisation shall hold an Annual General Meeting each year, not later than 31st May, at which the Society’s Accounts shall be presented, committee members elected and such other reports submitted as may be agreed.

A minimum of three weeks’ notice of such a meeting must be given to all members, and any items for discussion at the Annual General Meeting, including nominations for committee members, must reach the Honorary Secretary not less than seven days before the Annual General Meeting.
Extra-ordinary meetings may be called at the request of not less than ten members giving a minimum of three weeks’ notice.

Annual subscriptions shall be due on 2nd January annually with a minimum amount to be set by the Committee.
The organisation shall have the power to accept donations towards its work, and may raise funds to further it Aims & Objectives.

Alterations to this Constitution shall receive assent of two-thirds of the members present and voting at an Annual General Meeting or a Special General Meeting. A resolution for the alteration of the Constitution must be received by the Honorary Secretary of the organisation at least 21 days before the meeting at which the resolution is to be put forward.
At least 14 days’ notice of such a meeting must be given by the Honorary Secretary to the membership and must include notice of the alteration proposed. Provided that no alteration to the Objects, Dissolution, or to this clause shall take effect until the approval of the Charity Commissioners or any other authority having charitable jurisdiction shall have been obtained, and no alteration shall be made that would have the effect of causing the organisation to cease to be a charity in law.

The organisation may be dissolved by a resolution passed by a two-thirds majority of those members present and voting at a Special General Meeting convened for the purpose of which 21 days’ notice shall have been given to members. Such resolution may give instructions for the disposal of any assets held by or in the name of the organisation, provided that if any property remains after the satisfaction of all debts and liabilities, such property shall not be paid to or distributed among the members of the organisation, but shall be given or transferred to such other charitable institution or institutions having the objects similar to some or all of the objects of this organisation as the organisation may determine; or, if in so far as effect cannot be given to this provision, then to some other charitable purpose.