REPORT IN LIEU OF A FORMAL AGM MEETING which was due to take place on 21 April 2020


1. Coronavirus

1.1. As a consequence of the Coronavirus lock down causing the AGM to be cancelled, the committee has prepared this report covering the issues which were to have been addressed.

1.2. Separate newsletters will be issued regarding the Plant Sale planned for 24 May 2020 and Summer Show planned for 22 August 2020.

1.3. Whilst the VPA Store is not open at its regular time of 10.00am on a Sunday morning, orders may be placed via a committee member and collection/delivery agreed accordingly at a safe distance – email:

1.4. At the end of last year we advised that we planned to consider further charitable donations at Easter time and during the summer.  However, due to the current situation we will now review later this year when the accounts can be evaluated to see what monies may be available, as our fund raising events may not / will not be able to take place.

1.5. If the AGM had been able to proceed as planned we had secured our very own Julia Bolton to come and talk to us about Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville which opened in September 2018. We hope a revised date can be arranged for this, even if it isn’t until next year.  In the meantime an insight into these gardens can be found at

2. Election of committee members.

2.1. No new nominations had been received from the general membership but all the existing committee members are willing to continue in their existing roles:

Stuart Buchanan-Barrow (Treasurer), Alastair Greene (Membership), Lin Underwood (Garden Store), June Abraham, Phil Bunting, Janet Stinton, Alison Townsend.  Due to professional commitments Stasia Parker stepped down from the committee during 2019 but still retains responsibility for social media.  Andrew Sheaf stepped down from the committee due to many travel commitments.

3. Accounts (01/01/2019 to 31/12/2019)

3.1. In brief, net trading profit was £940 (an increase of £121 from previous year); [trading income £9,600, trading expenditure £8,600]; total assets £12,062, which includes bank account and stock value as at the year end which is just a few pounds up on the previous year end.

3.2. All six individual events made a profit (two shows, plant and bulb sales, harvest supper, wreath making).

3.3. Donations totalling £1,975 were shared between 11 good causes as recorded in the November 2019 newsletter.

3.4. The store continues to be the foundation of the VPA with the turnover on course to increase.

4. Membership

4.1. Many thanks for your speedy response and we value the auto-payment subscriptions (£5 per annum, per household) received during April.   If it is not possible, or your preference is not to pay on-line, please free to drop cash or cheques into any committee member.  Please ensure you advise your contact details to enable the membership details to be kept up-to-date.  Any questions/new member details, please contact Alastair at   Our bank details for on-line payments are: payee – Gaddesden District Village Produce Association; Account number – 48549306; sort code – 09-01-51.  Membership hovers around 200 and we hope to boost this and connect with the whole village and surrounding areas.

5. Garden Store

5.1. Firstly, a big thank you to our volunteer team who have supported the store throughout the year.  However, we still need more volunteers to spread the workload and you do not need to be an expert in any way to support the Store.

5.2. July was the start of a much needed clean up and refresh with the walls and shelves painted, together with the display areas tidied.  Chairs and two donated tables (courtesy of Ashridge Golf Club and Sara Crabb) were introduced, so a place to both sit and socialise with a cup of tea or coffee, whilst gaining expert advice on a variety of garden topics and how to deal with a myriad of garden problems.

5.3. Overall turnover is up 30% and the introduction of a card reader as an alternative payment method has been well received.  For the first time we remained open over the winter, further boosting sales, and of course the wild birds benefited as our sale of bird food rose enormously. 

5.4. We have a good range of products, at competitive prices providing real value.  So, we need to attract new customers/members and increase the breadth of products purchased.  New signage has been produced to advertise store opening hours and to raise awareness of the Garden Store that has been here for many years supportng the village and local area.  Input welcomed especially on any product requirements that you do not see in the store.

5.5. We are supporting the campaign for a “Greener Gaddesden”.  The store offers many basic goods loose, so saving on packaging and we will continue to review our range.  Our policy containing lots of guidance about how we can all rethink what and how we do things is readily available on our web site; this also contains helpful links in support of sustainability. 

6. Shows

6.1. In view of the current situation prevailing on us all, we feel very fortunate to have successfully held our Winter Show in February which was well supported although entry numbers were down.  The summer show last August was also a huge success with a variety of entries.  We had the “little cream van” visit us from Berkhamsted to promote the show.  We are naturally hoping it will be possible to hold the show this summer as planned on 22 August 2020 but will have to await the progress and outcome of what we are allowed to do.  Information will be added to our web site.

6.2. The cost of producing the printed format of the show schedules is huge and we are trying to evaluate if there is an alternative way that this could be done effectively.   Any suggestions/ideas are welcome.

7. Plant, Bubbles and Bulb sales

7.1. Our well known Plant sale (and cakes) was a very special event in our calendar and once again we were fortunate to have Sue Godar spearhead the event, particularly on plant donations.

7.2. The Bubbles and Bulbs sale was extended over two days which proved to be very popular.  We are hoping to be able to see many people again this autumn.

7.3. Workshops – there are many subjects that could be tackled. The first workshop was Christmas Wreaths which was enormous fun and well supported for the slots available. This could be repeated if interest is sufficient. Suggestions from members welcomed to highlight interests and enable a programme to be developed that is both helpful and fun.

8. Communications (Web site, Instagram and Facebook)

8.1. – we went live with the first few pages in time for the summer show with entries being sent on-line by many.  We are so very grateful to Andrew Sheard for his unwavering patience, enthusiasm and general support in putting this together for the VPA.  We will continue with the development and welcome input and suggestions   We envisage gathering archive material but also be proactive looking to the future and sustainability of the VPA organisation.  The newsletters are now distributed electronically via Mailchimp so become a member and add your email address to receive them.  However, if there is anyone that does not have electronic facilities please let us know and we will make suitable arrangements to correspond appropriately.

8.2. Message from Stasia Parker: “Since stepping down as store manager due to work commitments, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed continuing to run our social media platforms.  I was sad to leave the VPA committee, but glad I can still play a part in this wonderful organisation.”

8.3. Instagram – we have 568 followers, with our best received post gaining over 700 views and several new members have been recruited through this medium.  This has become our best serving platform to reach followers locally, nationally and internationally, and build community links in both Little Gaddesden and across Hertfordshire.

8.4. Facebook – despite page limitations we reach a fair audience and lots of people use this format to reach out to us and ask questions about the store.

We have also had likes and comments from numerous TV gardening celebrities and been re-posted by The Wildlife Trust.

8.5 Your images are needed.  Please do share your photos with us at: @little_gaddesden_vpa on Instagram; Little Gaddesden VPA on Facebook

9. Going forward

9.1. RHS Wisley  – it is hoped that the regular trip to Wisley (or any other RHS garden) can be arranged for later in the year. Our RHS membership allows for up to 55 people to visit one of their gardens for a day trip. Watch this space!  The only cost would be transportation.

9.2. Many of you have hopefully benefitted from the seed exchange and plants available at the bottom of 20 LG driveway.  Further ideas are being considered for what can safely be arranged for the Plant Sale to enable plants to be exchanged.

9.3. The Young Gardeners area on the website has been launched during this lockdown period and feedback from parents has been positive and encouraging.  Ongoing projects will continue to be released.  We are hoping this will generate a lot of interest from our younger members and budding gardeners of the future.

9.4. Next AGM date : Tuesday 20 April 2021 – date for your diary.