The AGM was held on 31st May in the picnic area of Batchwood. In spite of poor weather, the event was really well attended, although the AGM itself was conducted standing to avoid wet seats!
Chairman Roma Mills welcomed the stalwart members, all of whom had come appropriately dressed for cool temperatures and heavy showers. She said that the obvious work done around Batchwood was performed by the Friday and Sunday volunteer groups, fulfilling the Group’s objectives of protecting and enhancing the woodland. However, Friends of Batchwood is concerned with the whole estate and its formal constitution, with chairman and committee, enable it to interact with all interested parties [St Albans District Council, 1Life – which manages the Sports Centre, the Golf Club, the Bowls Club and Club Batchwood], on a day-to-day basis and at the twice-yearly Batchwood Forum. During the year the committee has tried to keep up pressure on the various management organisations involved; sadly the main bones of contention are usual ones, namely the lights being left on continuously on the road and in the car park, litter, noise from home-going nightclubbers and need to conceal the exceptionally ugly water tank near the front of the Hall.
Roma formally thanked 1Life for their financial contribution to training for FoB volunteers and also Peter Bell, manager of Club Batchwood, for the contributions of beer and soft drinks for the barbecue, a donation which has been made for many years.
Miles Soppet, Volunteer Co-ordinator, reported on the work done by the team during the year. The previous years’ coppicing and the past winter’s efforts have reaped almost immediate rewards in the profusion and quality of the wild flowers, encouraged by increased light. ‘Mount Batchwood’ was reduced in height and extent during the year [as has been reported in website posts] and has been planted up with native trees and willows, most of which are doing well despite the almost solid clay soil. The top of the soil heap was sown with poppies earlier in the year; these are germinating and will hopefully give a good show later.
A number of new volunteers have joined during the year and their contributions have been as welcome as they have been valuable. The local Explorer Scouts, based in the Everlasting Lane Scout Hut, had a litter pick evening in May, which they enjoyed despite bad weather, and which was very helpful. The Friends have also been liaising with Batchwood School and have been pleased to welcome small groups of children with special educational needs who gain enormous benefits from working in the woods.
Liz Atkins, the Treasurer, was again able to report a healthy financial situation. Any major costs were offset by sale of equipment that is no longer needed and by the sale of ‘lake’ golf balls.
After the meeting, Miles led a walk around the wood to explain the work undertaken during the year while the catering crew got down to business!
As always, members contributed food of fantastic quality and, as the rain managed to hold off for a couple of hours, everyone had a very enjoyable lunch. It was particularly good to meet the families of our new volunteers and members, to welcome a number of guests who were good enough to come and also welcome our long-term members who enjoy the woods throughout the year.