For the Sussex & Surrey Coppice group.
As you may be aware we recently had the groups AGM, This was the first Agm we have had at our new base at Shadow Wood, This base has been in the planning stage for well over the last four years,
As with all things Covid got in the way and slowed progress, But with a bit of persistence and some hard graft from willing volunteers fuelled by tea and sausages we now have a smart secure shipping container and a paved covered area for craft skill sharing events and meetings, compost loos and a galley area with a bbq.
So what of the Agm, well there have been a few changes to the committee, with a reshuffle of outgoing committee members and new members being elected,
Starting from the top Chris Letchford has stood down as chairman having served several years as your chairman holding the rains with his last hurrah or headache being the administration for earth burn, Insurance is his favourite topic,
Sarah Brown has stood down as Treasurer having served the thick end of four years plus, recently moving to Skipton, North Yorkshire with her family, We wish her the best of luck, health and happiness,
Bob Hewitt that’s me has stood down from Events & Meetings coordinator,
Graham Bowbrick has stood down as shows sec.
John Sinclair as long standing wise man has stood down.
So the new Committee looks like this ,
Bob Hewitt Chairman,
Chris Letchford as Treasurer,
Richard Lerner as Hon Secretary,
Tina Bowbrick Membership sec,
Ashleigh Martin as Shows sec & NcFed rep,
Simon Weaver as events coordinator,
Rose Rendell as social media,
Ollie Clifford as web master,
Clive Cobie as Centre manager for Shadow wood,
Rodger Crab and Katie Kemp as without Portfolio.
On block I would like to thank all of the outgoing committee members for their support to the group over the past years and the new committee members for their support for the future.
So that leaves one more,
You the member,
The Sussex & Surrey Coppice Group is the only organisation I Know that pays you hard cash to be in the group, For your £25 quid membership subscription not only do you get endless benefits from the members directory, networking opportunities, tips & advice from other members, a training bursary for £200 quid and free wood fair and show pitches if you attend with the group at shows to name a few,
We are also a member of the National federation of Coppice workers, Of which is included in your membership subs , Ncfed representing you and coppicing at national level and available discounted rate to the annual gathering on 13th October 2023, With skill sharing in abundance good food, good company from like minded individuals and good beer, This is a must attend event.
So where does the we pay you bit come in,
As a group we get invited to attend shows, The group charges the show organiser for our attendance, We then pay you £50 quid or other agreed sum to turn up with your display of your craft skill, demonstrate your skill and sell your product if you chose not to take the £50 that is up to you, If you are demonstrating and not selling then you are covered for expenses and covered with full public liability insurance under the Sscg banner,
We have three shows left to attend across the three counties Sussex, Surrey and Kent on the 27th Aug, 9th Sept, 15th Sept, Check the web site for details and contact the show sec if you wish to attend.
Future meetings, since Covid the attendance of group meetings fell off sharply to a stage where there were only two members turn up for the meeting, As meetings organiser the decision was taken to throw all the energy into the work party’s to build the new base and erect the secure container at shadow wood’s,
This year we hope to revitalise the group meeting in the autumn with some fresh content and renewed vigour.
Training, Education & the next generation,
Every time I am in the company of coppice workers the question all ways comes up, How do we encourage the younger generation into the industry? This is an age old chestnut and universal to all industries, the difference is other industries have more recognition from the Government and the educators along with more funding for training,
However through the Forestry Commission a substantial sum of Government money has recently been allocated for training through the collages and external training providers, This is a good thing as the Government are finally starting to recognise the value of coppicing, the wealth it brings to the woods and the biodiversity of the countryside,
It’s up to you to play your part in encouraging the next generation into the practice of coppicing and to recognise the value & health benefits from being out in the woods and working the coupes.
I would like to say there has never been a better time to be in Coppicing, With greater awareness from the general public on environmental issues and for them to use natural sustainable products in their daily life,
Brexit has affected the import of Charcoal and thatching spares once imported form Poland has all but ceased, giving rise to a renewed market on spares that are now fetching £1.20 per unit,
Local Charcoal is more popular than ever with a sustainable provenance and a local story,
Land reclamation companies are busier than ever, increasing the need for Faggots and other products associated with landscape stabilisation, More development planners are insisting on hedge laying around new developments to satisfy Government green planning requirements.
The Sussex & Surrey Coppice group is your group! the more you get involved the harder the committee will work for you, if you have got something to offer of interest to bring to the table, let’s have a look at it.
Don’t be shy.
I look forward to meeting as many of you at the next group meeting.
Sussex & Surry Coppice group