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The Carnivorous Plant Society - Update from the Vice Chair


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Posted on behalf of the Carnivorous Plant Society

 
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Est. 1978.  Registered Charity number 281423
(Registered 1981)
 
Dear Members,

First of all, I would like to thank those of you that attended the virtual AGM on Saturday 28th May. It was a pleasure to meet you and to hear your contributions.

I thought it would be a great idea to keep you informed of what's happening behind the scenes, as the Society belongs to you - the members.  Therefore our intention is to issue a "From The Chair" (or Vice-Chair) update at least once a quarter.
 

AGM Update

The Committee held a meeting in the morning before the AGM.  The Treasurer presented the accounts for the last financial year.  The Committee could not vote on passing them due to questions on the allocation of payments, which need to be resolved first.    

During the Committee meeting, our Acting Chair, Treasurer, Librarian and Trustee announced that he wanted to step down with immediate effect.  The Committee proposed a vote of thanks at the AGM to Phil Wilson for all his hard work over the years.

At the AGM, Trustees and Committee members were elected as follows:
  • Ian Ladd - Trustee and Vice Chair (acting Chair)
  • Fiona Wowra - Trustee and Secretary
  • Debra Blackburn - Membership Secretary
  • Ben Morris - Events Organiser
  • Ian Jones - Newsletter Editor
  • Stephen Morley - Conservation Officer
  • Francesco Gorni - Deputy Conservation Officer
  • Dave Quarrell - Internet and Enquiries Officer
Fiona Wowra, who has been a great stalwart of the Society, announced that she intends to step down at the next AGM from her roles of Secretary and Trustee.  Fiona has recently spent over 150 hours of her time re-sorting the Seed Bank after it had been handed between different volunteers in quick succession; she has now ensured that everything is arranged in a logical and manageable order.  Fiona has a great deal of respect within the Society and will be greatly missed.  We are very grateful to Fiona for giving us another year of her time and experience.
 

Management Committee and Trustees

It must be said that the past two years have been a difficult time for the Society. Various Committee members and Trustees stepped down, others were unwell and therefore unable to fulfil their duties, which led to the Society being unable to operate at full strength.

Thank you to everyone who stood by us. I can now say, with great confidence, that we have strengthened the Society with the additional Committee members.  They are committed to making your Society a first-class organisation.  We are putting together a document called “Know Your Committee” which will include a brief resume for each committee member and how to contact them if you have any queries. We aim to send this to you in the next four to six weeks.
 

SGM

As noted at the AGM, the Committee are planning a Special General Meeting to be announced in the next few weeks.  The first reason for this is to approve the following as Trustees:
  • Ian Jones 
  • Debra Blackburn  
  • Dave Quarrell
These new Trustees will be a great addition to the existing Trustees and give the Society additional expertise and resilience.   

The second reason is to propose replacing our existing Governing Document with one based on the model constitution for a Society of our type approved by the Charity Commission.  The current document has been difficult to interpret, and in some places, it contradicts itself.  We will circulate the Governing Document to you, the members, in plenty of time before the SGM to read and digest it.   
 

New Policies

You, the members, are the Society's soul. Our charity must be an environment where everybody feels that they are included, able to speak up without fear, and to make suggestions or comments without feeling bullied or harassed.  To this end, I am currently preparing an Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy that will protect everyone within our Society. 

We will also have an Equality Policy.  We will welcome everyone regardless of colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion, sex or sexual orientation, marital status, gender, disability, political opinion, family status, or age. Further details of these policies will be provided in due course.
 

Finances

Following the AGM it also came to light that the accounts submitted to the Charity Commission for the year 2020 - 2021 contained some errors. The stated loss of £35.25 was incorrect; we actually made a loss of £250.95. Our bank balance was also incorrectly reported as £16,086.30; the correct figure was £15,086.55. 

Systems are now being put in place to ensure that the Society's finances are monitored, correctly prepared and independently checked before being presented to you, the members and the Charity Commission.   
 

Membership 

Over the last couple of years, our membership has reduced to 246 paid up members.  I intend to increase the appeal of membership by adding additional content to a newly invigorated website that had already been approved last year, along with our core values of Education, Cultivation and Conservation.  On Facebook, for example, we have over 4,500 people that have expressed an interest in our Society. We will aim to try and convert some of these people into fully paid up members.   
 

Schools Program 

We are considering a pilot education program for schools.  Initially, approximately 10-15 schools where we will provide seeds, compost, growing instructions and ongoing support to the school throughout the year.  The aim is to encourage our young people to be interested in Carnivorous Plants and expand these not just at school but also at home.  We would look to offer a Schools membership to our website, where the teacher would be able to access and download information etc., for their class.  This idea is still in its infancy and we will, of course, keep you up to date on how this goes.   
 

Technology

Along with a new website to be launched shortly, the Committee is also introducing other technology to improve the running of the Society.

We have nearly completed migration of all Committee communications and document management to Microsoft Office 365, under a free non-profit subscription arranged by Ian Jones. This will make it easier to organise the Committee’s business and provide greater security and resilience.

We are also looking in the very near future to move our membership database from an existing offline setup to a professionally hosted platform, specifically designed for membership administration. This should significantly improve the management of memberships, subscription payments, reminders etc. and eliminate some of the difficulties we have experienced with these aspects over recent years.
 

Get In Touch

Finally, if you have any ideas or comments, good or bad.  Please don't hesitate to contact me at [email protected].  
 
Thank you for your continued support, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Ian Ladd
Vice Chair (acting Chair) of the Carnivorous Plant Society
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I have now locked the other thread about the UK CPS as it had run to over 100 replies.

If you have ideas, suggestions, or comments feel free to add them here and we'll ensure they're seen by the Committee.

For questions specific to your own membership, payments, seed bank orders etc. you can email [email protected].

 

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Just a minor comment on the seed bank list on the society website, many species listed appear to have significant spelling errors to the extent that there may be scope for misidentification. There are also some particularly obscure names where further description of exactly what the seeds are may be of some help (e.g. Drosera pusila - what is this? Pusilla (two ls) is a synonym of at least two other distinct species). I appreciate it may be hard to fully identify everything in the current inventory, but could there be stricter donation requirements with regards to positively identifying and documenting what the seed actually is?

I would also like to say the work done to bring the seed bank back to working order is very much appreciated and I fully understand there may be bigger issues to tackle with this right now.

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Thanks for your comments AKR.

We're working on a new website which will include a different format for the seedbank. We'll try to make sure any errors or ambiguities are caught as part of that work. In the meantime if there's any particular ones that are giving concern, please let me know and I'll see whether I can correct them.

For donated seed we're reliant on the information provided by the donor. I gather that seedbank donations have reduced significantly over recent years, so I'm not sure if placing further restrictions on donations would be helpful. One change we are planning with the new website is to give clearer information about the provenance of seed and the expectations for donations, which we hope will help to some extent.

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One thing you could do to help membership is to reply to queries which have been submitted on the Society website using the online contact form. I've let my membership lapse because of a total lack of response to a question I had on the current membership charges.

I shall look to rejoin the society if I see the improvements described.

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Hi linuxman,

Over the past year or two there have unfortunately been a large number of enquiries that I fear have gone unanswered. I can only apologise for that situation, which pre-dates my involvement with the Society and is one of the reasons I volunteered to help.

I'm not sure when your enquiry was sent, but for what it's worth I have taken over the Enquiries role as of a few weeks ago and I'm reasonably confident that all enquiries sent to the Society since then have been answered promptly.

If you'd like to re-send your enquiry either via the contact form or by email to [email protected] I'll look into this for you.

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