The new format for the Guild’s national annual meeting proved a great success again, as farmers joined members to hear about the needs of a UK and world farming industry trying to feed a growing population.
Organised by the Midlands group – in particular chair Julie Mate, vice-chair Helen Brothwell and secretary Liz Snaith – the event attracted a high-profile speaker in Prof Ian Crute (above right) and good responses to his presentation by George Freeman MP (centre), and farmers Guy Smith, Robin Thompson and Nick Green, with proceedings ably managed by Guild member David Richardson (left).
Read Alistair Driver’s report on the Farmers Guardian website.
Read Joe Watson’s report in the Press & Journal.
During the Guild’s national business meeting that preceded the press briefing and debate, Nick Bond completed a busy two years as chairman by reporting on the previous 12 months’ activities and reminding those present that it was a year since Don Gomery carried out his final duties as secretary of the Guild.
There had been many tributes to Don since his sad death last April, including a memorial service at St Brides, the ‘journalists church’ in Fleet Street, London, and at the IFAJ Congress in Belgium,” Nick pointed out. “Don relished the comradeship of the IFAJ Congresses and like many other Guild members had enjoyed the hospitality of the Japanese guild at the 2007 Congress in Sendai, one of the coastal towns hit by the earthquake and tsunami.”
Members and guests then stood for a few moments silence in respect for Don and the people of Japan.
On a happier note, Nick (above right) handed over the medal of office to the Guild’s new chairman, Adrian Bell, who was elected at the meeting, Adrian has served on the management council for several years, during which he devised and commissioned the Guild’s Farming Media Centre website, produced new Guild promotional literature and pull-banners and, as deputy chairman over the past 12 months, managed the Guild’s awards programme.
Members also re-elected their president of the past year, Lord Cameron of Dillington (pictured centre above), who made his AGM debut. Ewen has been very supportive of the Guild at Council meetings and in judging some of the awards between his commitments as a cross-bencher in the House of Lords and at home on his Somerset farm.
There were no elections to the management Council because as a result of rule amendments passed 12 months ago, the Council will henceforth have fewer members – one of several measures aimed at reducing running costs.
A word of thanks is due Mike Gooding and Ray Vale, who have stood down from the management council after making some very valuable contributions, and in Ray’s case for serving over many years, often vociferously representing the interests of colleagues in the fresh produce sector.
Special thanks are due retiring chairman, Nick Bond, who has shouldered considerable extra responsibility since Don Gomery’s untimely death. Nick’s calm assessment of sometimes awkward issues discussed at Council meetings will be missed and his enthusiasm for and dedication to the Guild during his two-year term as chairman has been exceptional.
Using all the experience gained from many years service on Council, including several as treasurer, to good effect, Nick ensured that the loss of its long-serving secretary did not result in Guild organisation and management falling into disarray.
Guild officers (left to right) Tim Price, treasurer; Clemmie Gleeson, secretary; Lord Cameron of Dillington, president; Nick Bond, retiring chairman.