Chairman’s Report 2023/24

This being the 78th AGM of the Alresford and District Horticultural Society and my first year as Chairman I can’t help thinking of all the illustrious chairmen of the past, hoping that I will be able to live up to their formidable reputations. Looking at the records I see that I am only the second female in the role, the first being Miss Boize in 1975 who followed Mr Witchard, a familiar name in Alresford.

I feel this has been a good year for the Society. We have a very competent and hard-working committee, although we have some vacancies, a vice chairman, a minute secretary and a show secretary to assist our show manager. Our treasurer is handing over to Vivienne Isemann but has agreed to stay on the committee. Please think about joining us. More hands make light work and we are always looking for new ideas. We have a monthly committee meeting (with refreshments) and meetings are usually fun and fairly short. 

We have enjoyed a wide range of talks throughout the year and some excellent speakers. The hall screen we had been using for many years suddenly disappeared, so we purchased one for the Society. Val Ramshaw organised the annual holiday, this time based in Harrogate and with the help of Angela’s Coaches. Despite the rain spoiling a scenic tour and York Minster closed for a rehearsal, everyone had a good time and there were calls for another holiday this year. Val also organised the annual visit to Wisley, this time a summer visit on 1stJune. It is getting more and more difficult to attract enough people to cover our costs and both visits made a small loss. An outing to Parham in October which had promised to be one of the highlights of the year, offering a visit to both house and garden in beautiful weather, had to be cancelled for lack of support and we lost the deposit on the coach. We are going to have to think very carefully about future holidays and trips, wishing to avoid more financial losses and are thinking of approaching other organisations in the town with a view to joining forces.  

Spring seems to get earlier and earlier and there were few daffodils to feature in the Spring Show but nevertheless we had a good range of entries. We do encourage everyone to take part. Ralph Pointer won the Bosie Cup for the highest number of points and Best in Show was won by Vivienne Isemann.  Ann Ward won the Rose Bowl at the Rose Show in June. Runner-up was Sarah McKenzie. The Hanging Basket and Container competition in July was won by Jeremy Ashmore. Thank you to all those who took part.

On 1st July we were invited to the home of Vivienne Isemann for our annual summer party. On a warm and sunny evening, we enjoyed Vivienne’s beautiful garden and a sumptuous buffet provide by our generous members. Thank you, Vivienne. Apparently, the garden design was in part a lock-down project and it was much admired.

The Alresford Show is always our greatest commitment of the year involving members, friends and family and work starts on preparing the schedule early in the New Year. This year’s show was judged to be very successful, and we had a steady flow of very enthusiastic visitors. Despite weather problems there was a good display of fruit and vegetables although the flower arrangers were largely absent.  The craft, photograph and cookery sections get bigger every year and this year was no exception. Our grateful thanks to Ann Winfield, Show Manager, who together with the show committee put together a really professional show. Thanks to our generous members and support on the day the tombola raised ÂŁ600 which helped towards our show expenses.

The Christmas Supper on 6th December at the Swan was well supported despite coinciding with the arrival of Father Christmas and Late-Night Shopping. Next year we will find another date.

During the year we were sorry to hear that Ann Bravery and Jeanne Perry had died. Ann and Tony Bravery and Jeanne and Tony Perry made huge contributions to the life of the Society in the past and leave us with fond memories.

Finally, please don’t forget to check the Society’s web site from time to time There you will find newsletters and photographs of recent events as well as programme details etc. We are grateful to Ted Winfield’s son for hosting the site for us. Members have requested that we hold the membership fee at ÂŁ15 for the coming year. We are happy to do this for one more year, but our costs continue to rise and we are having to dip into our reserves to balance the books. This is not a good state of affairs. We want to continue to offer an interesting programme, including visits, but we need to increase our membership. So I urge you to help us to promote the Society and encourage your friends and neighbours to join. We were very sorry to hear that Alton Horticultural Society has had to close because of a lack of support. I know we can do better.

Janet Pooley