Fascinating February meeting

Our February meeting including our Annual General Meeting, and the afternoon went very well with the business proceeding smoothly. Following on, we took tea and delicious home made cake before being given a talk by Steve Edney. Steve is the Head Gardener of The Salutation Gardens in Sandwich, and a real plantsman. In his talk, he shared his passion for plants and all things horticultural and his enthusiasm shone through. The Salutation Gardens were designed by Edwin Lutyens, and Steve explained how he and his team painstakingly renovated them from neglect back to beautiful health. Very sadly, the garden is now closed as the business as gone into administration. Steve remains hopeful that it will reopen in the future, and we really hope so too, as we would love to be able to visit. There was an added bonus to Steve’s talk as he brought along an interesting selection of plants to buy.

Steve Gedney giving a talk at our February meeting

Here is a brief update of the main points from the AGM, including the Committee arrangements for 2020.

  • President: Ann Taunton has very kindly agreed to remain in post for this year.
  • Chairman: Jenny Nye remaining in post for this year.
  • Vice Chairman: Sally Vaughan is welcomed to this position and has retired as Programme Secretary
  • Treasurer: Margaret Rumsey takes over from Rita Coombs retiring from the position after 5 years. We are very grateful for the good job Rita has done with all matters financial and we welcome Margaret to the committee
  • Minutes Secretary: Jennifer Arnall
  • Programme Secretary: Patricia Ellis – a welcomed return to the committee
  • Sales Table: Pat Weedon who does such a good job for us however please do support it otherwise it will be the old adage of “use it or lose it”
  • Public Relations Officer: Gillian Hogg, with a new title to cover all aspect of our Social Media.
  • Committee: Marion Bowles and Mrs Shirley Sands
  • Rita has very kindly agreed to take on the role of Trading Officer in a non committee manner.

The Christmas Hamper Raffle

The Raffle raised a total of £154 and the Committee decided to round the amount up to £200. Four local charities were nominated by Club members:

  • The Folly Wildlife Rescue Trust in Tunbridge Well – nominated by Deirdre MacIntyre. They do a great job with all wildlife creatures that are in need of care and Deirdre has used them many times
  • Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees – nominated by Lynda Gilbert. Donations are used to settle a new a family who have escaped for the war in Syria. Money is needed for travel to hospital appointments, warm winter coats, shoes that don’t leak, school trips for the children, books for following an English language course and lots more besides
  • The Lewis Project – nominated by Marian Bowles
  • Porchlight – nominated by Heather Allen

It was decided that to split £200 four ways did not give a large enough donation to each of the four charities, each of which were very worthy causes. A decision was taken to give £100 to two charities now and the remaining two will receive any monies raised this year. The Folly Wildlife Rescue Trust and Sevenoaks Welcome Refugees were chosen to be the immediate recipients of our donation and the other two will be our chosen charities for 2020.

Obituaries 2019

Sadly, we a number of members in 2019. We remember them here.

In March, at the age of 102, Betty Southwell, who joined the Club in 1979. Betty was Club Secretary for many years and an Honorary Member until her death.

In July, we lost Brenda Elmer and Renee Fry. Brenda was a member for 39 years, having joined in 1980. She was a past committee member and also Treasurer for four years. Renee Fry was a member for 25 years, having joined in 1996.

Edna Bennet, a member for 34 years, joined in 1985, and died in September aged 93.

In December, Evelyn Mercer died.  She was a distinguished member of The Sevenoaks Flower Club for 50 years. Having joined in 1969 she quickly became a stalwart and very active member, twice being Chairman. Not only was she active within Sevenoaks Flower Club but also in the Kent Area, becoming Chairman and then President.  She went on to join the NAFAS National Committee and became National President, representing NAFAS at the World Show in South Africa. She was also part of a ten-person team from the Kent Area which competed at Chelsea winning a Gold Medal.  Besides being a Past National President and a NAFAS Associate of Honour she was an Honorary Member of the Kent Area. Evelyn arranged flowers on many occasions at Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral and was involved in the flowers for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, and of those for the Duke and Duchess of York. She was a very close personal friend of Julia Clements, and they worked together on the annual Floral Lunch at The Savoy Hotel, which raised money for an Armed Forces Charity.   Guests included Princess Diana and Princess Margaret.  Evelyn became a member of the Gardeners Livery Company and was a Freeman of the City of London.  During the 1980’s she took exams and became a Tourist Guide taking American visitors on specialised garden tours in the South of England. She went on to become a Blue Badge Guide, showing people around London, focusing on historical buildings, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. Evelyn loved flower arranging, her club – Sevenoaks, the Kent Area and NAFAS.  She will be missed by everyone who came into contact with her.