Kewite-mail, August 2020

Dear Kewites and Friends,

I hope you are all well, despite COVID.  I promised to send out a further update to you in July, but as we are due a Newsletter I thought I would combine the two.  

There is still a lot of Guild activity continuing ‘behind the scenes’ and we had another Trustees meeting (online) on 23 July. Thanks again for all the messages of support we have received. They are most welcome. 

AGM 

After consultation with the Charity Commission we will be going ahead with this year’s AGM. It will be an online meeting which will take place on Saturday, 24 October 2020 at 2pm. This later date will allow us to get familiar with the technology (!) to make sure the meeting runs as smoothly as possible. We plan to use ZOOM video-conferencing software. The agenda will be limited to essential items required by the Charity Commission, but we will send out all the usual reports to members beforehand. Members will be able join the meeting online but participation will be limited in order to keep everything manageable. I’m sorry that the meeting will be accessible only to those members with internet facilities but under the current pandemic restrictions we feel this is the safest way in which it can be held. Further details will be sent out in the next few weeks.

Annual Dinner 

We had a revised plan to hold the Annual Dinner in early September but I’m sad to say we have cancelled it altogether for this year. I know it’s a highlight for many members but restrictions on the numbers who could attend would be too great to make the event viable.

Here’s hoping for 2021… 

Events 

Likewise, we’ve cancelled all our Events programme for this year, with the intention, COVID-permitting, of re-organising them for next year plus a few additions that were being planned. The Ireland trip is already being re-organised and most members who wanted to go this year have expressed interest in joining next year. There is waiting list for any vacant places that may arise. Please contact Brian Phillips (brian@brianandsylvia.com) if you would like to go on the waiting list. We would welcome any suggestions for future events and offers to help organise these would also be welcome!  

Charitable donations 

As reported previously, the Guild made a one-off charitable donation to RBG, Kew of £5000, to help our Alma Mater through a difficult period and this was gratefully received. We have also made smaller donations of £1000 each to Perennial (The Gardeners Benevolent Society) and the Arboriculture, Forestry, Horticulture and Landscape Trailblazer Group. Again, these have been gratefully received. All these donations have been made strictly in line within the Guild’s charitable objectives and, as a condition of the donation, we expect a report from all three organisations on how our money was spent within one year of the donation being made.  

Committee appointments 

Chris Kidd will assume office as our next President at the AGM.  

Two of our Trustees will retire at the AGM: Stewart Henchie and Alan Stuttard. Both have been around for as long as anyone can remember (!) but they have given great and service to the Guild over the years, including stints as President, and we warmly thank them for all they have done.  

The names of proposed new appointees for President Elect, Vice-President and two new Trustees will be sent with the AGM paperwork. 

Archives Officer 

Janette Ames resigned as Archives Officer on 23 July to focus on her family business. We were sorry to see her go and warmly thanked her for her excellent work with the Guild archives at our last Trustees meeting. I’m pleased to say we earmarked a successor. Her name is Christina McCollough and she is the current Graduate Trainee in the RBG, Kew Archives, so it will be great to have that direct Kew link. 

Awards 

The Awards Committee meeting was postponed cancelled in July (yes, because of COVID). Very few of the awards made in March have been taken up and we have agreed to extend their take-up at least until March 2021 and further if necessary. 

I am pleased to say that Professor Mark Chase FRS (RBG, Kew) has been awarded, and has accepted, the Kew Guild Medal for 2021. We have also approved a nomination for Honorary Fellowship and the new Fellow will be announced as soon as we have confirmation of their acceptance. 

News from Kew 

Kew has continued to expand its visitor offer at both the Kew and Wakehurst sites, with most glasshouses and catering facilities now open. Pre-booking is still required, with entry by timed ticket. This arrangement is going well and although visitor numbers are down overall at Kew, there has been a big increase in visits at Wakehurst. Staff are gradually returning to work on both sites although 50% are still on furlough which brings in much-needed income but the government doesn’t allow staff to do any work while on the furlough scheme. Those staff not on furlough are able to work at home, while horticultural staff have been in keeping the gardens looking great. Much work has gone into planning various COVID-related scenarios and at the present time Kew’s management are confident they will come through without too much detriment, although a second wave may mean the organisation has to revise its financial forecasts downwards, which could have significant impact.  

COVID stories 

Richard Ward and Sparkle Ward are asking members to send in their COVID-19 stories – how it has affected you, your work life, your student life, your business or your retirement. Given impact this has had on all of us we believe that this should be recorded for posterity in the ‘Events of 2020’ Kew Guild Journal.

Please email editor@kewguild.org.uk very soon.  

During these challenging times we are looking for ways to engage with the membership and are considering some virtual talks and lectures. If anyone would like to participate, or if you have any ideas, please contact Secretary, Sara: secretary@kewguild.org.uk.

Finally… 

I want to take the opportunity to say thank you for your support of the Guild (and me as President) during a very difficult year. I’m extremely disappointed we have been unable to hold our Events as planned, as these are so much an enjoyable part of Guild membership. Fingers crossed, our programme for next year will go ahead. Despite the challenges of COVID, the Guild is very much determined to come out of the current difficulties with renewed vigour but in order to do so we very much need your continued support and participation; I sincerely hope you will feel able to do both in the coming years. 

Floreat Kew! Very best wishes, Dave