The Herb Society year 2014

A good year for the Herb Society!

Early in 2014, the Herb Society committee met up for a strategic review to consider the best way forward in terms of aims, membership and communication. This has led to increased visibility on the web this year, a new logo and many other benefits.

New Herb Society logo

This year saw our new logo design. It was felt that the previous design, although adding a level of gravitas to the Society, was rather outdated with a display of Roman numerals along the bottom that few people would relate to (actually referring to the founding of the society in 1927). So the new design was purposefully light, airy and colourful, and hopefully creates the feeling of a profusion of foliage and flowers.

herb society logo before and after

The old Herb Society logo (left), and new design (right)

Herb stand at RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

Congratulations again to Barbara and Peter Depledge and their team of volunteers from the North West group of the Herb Society who won a Silver Gilt for their stand. Local groups are an important and growing area of our Society, and a great way to meet like-minded people.

tatton stand

The Herb Society stand at Tatton and medal. Images courtesy Peter Depledge.

New Trustees

We were pleased to be able to attract three new trustees in 2014. Sitting on the council, this is an important voluntary role which enables our Society to take on new challenges.

three new Herb Society trustees

New trustees L-R Sue Hughes, museum director; Barbara Wilkinson, medical herbalist; Paul Richards, Herbfarmacy founder

A new Herb Society President for 2015-6

We have very much enjoyed having Jekka McVicar as President. With her wealth of specialist herb knowledge, she has been invaluable to the Herb Society for the last two years and we are very sad that her time representing us has come to an end.

toby buckland

New Herb Society President Toby Buckland. Image courtesy Toby Buckland

We were very excited to be able to secure Toby Buckland for the role in 2015 to 2016, who brings a high profile and infectious enthusiasm to the position along with his extensive plant knowledge. View press release

A new Herb Society Chairman

We were very sad that Gwenneth Heyking made the decision to stand down as Chairman at the end of 2014. Gwenneth says ‘I couldn’t have been involved with the Society at a more exciting time. It has been a period of great change, all of it for the better, with Board members working incredibly hard.’ She has worked as a trustee for seven years, and was heavily involved in the development of our new website and logo. View press release

barbara depledge profile

New Chairman Barbara Depledge

We are pleased to welcome existing trustee Barbara Depledge to the role this month. Barbara has already been very successful in developing our Local Groups. She is a retired pharmacist with a great interest in herbs, and was instrumental in our success at Tatton Park.

Herb Society on the Internet

I have been Social Media Advisor for about a year and have enjoyed being able to help such an enthusiastic group of people. I have been pleased to develop our Facebook and Twitter presence, and started this blog. We also now have a Pinterest account (if you are not familiar with Pinterest, it is a way of collecting together useful links, where each link is represented by an image, for example one might collect “lavender recipes” in one place or “herb garden designs”).

It has been lovely to receive feedback from members who have noticed the increased level of communication of the Society.

Also new this year is the Herb Society email newsletter, which is written by Nicky Westwood, a long-term active member of the Society. This offers all sorts of herb-related hints and tips, and is currently offered as a member benefit, being delivered in the months that Herbs magazine is not sent out.

The design for the new website is in place and was unveiled at the AGM at RHS Wisley. Council members are now working hard to review and update all information to be transferred to the new website. I hear that it is expected to go live in the not too distant future. In the meantime the old one, although slightly clunky, is a still a mine of useful information!

Herb Society member pics 2014

Thanks to everyone who was in touch last year with news and pics of herbs or events you were proud of! Do continue to contact me (ruth@herbsociety.org.uk) with news and I’ll put it on Social Media! Here are some of our ‘best bits’ from 2014:

herbsoc best bits 2014

Top row – Barbara Depledge joined by local MP at Macclesfield Treacle Market – Jekka McVicar and hosts at Presidents Day at Bristol Botanic Garden. Middle row – Malcolm Dickson leading a herb propagation workshop – Herb Society Fellow Jan Greenland receiving flowers for her 80th. Bottom row – Rachel de Thame visits the Herb Society stand at RHS Tatton – Volunteers cheerfully manning our stand at London’s RHS Secret Garden Sundays.

 

 

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An exciting year ahead

New ways forward for the Herb Society

Back in the Winter, I answered an ad in Herbs magazine to help the Herb Society with social media. This had been identified as an important area for the future growth of the organisation, and I am happy to help as I use Facebook and Twitter myself everyday for work.

It is a tough time for plant organisations in the UK, and it only takes a visit to the Charities Commission website to see this. For example the Alpine Garden Society income dropped by approximately 25% between 2012 and 2013. The Hardy Plant Society in their July 2013 newsletter expressed “concern over falling membership”. It is for this reason that we have been very keen to find out how we can keep our existing membership happy, and at the same time attract newcomers.

So, this January the Herb Society commissioned a random phone poll of our members, and were pleased to find that well over a hundred people were happy to give the time to talk. Overall, the members seemed very pleased to be contacted, and generally happy with the society. They seemed equally interested in the medicinal, horticultural and culinary aspects of herbs, and were keen to learn more through the magazine and other channels. Below is a summary of the findings.

herb society phone poll

To discuss these findings, the committee planned a meeting at the NFU Mutual (our sponsors) headquarters in Stratford-Upon-Avon. As the newbie I was invited along to meet everyone. Although I have been a member for about five years, I had not met any other members, and was relieved to find such a friendly group of people! Carole McKellar (Resources for Business) ran the day-long meeting very efficiently and with a smile throughout!

NFU building cropped

The NFU Mutual kindly provided accommodation and meeting facilities

We spent an exciting day discussing how to take the Society forward, in terms of its aims and aspirations, as well as how to adapt for the future. Post-it notes in abundance!

herb society committee

Carole helping organise thoughts for the future

Part of the proposed new way forward for the Society includes a new website which should go live later this year. In the meantime, the existing website is being kept up to date with news and events. A stronger social media presence is also now taking shape as evidenced by this new blog! Hopefully this new tech-savvy approach will attract a new generation of budding herb enthusiasts. Do check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for regular updates of our activities.

herb society people

Some Herb Society people L-R: Gwenneth Heyking (Acting Chair); Barbara Depledge (Local Groups); Malcolm Dickson (Hon Treasurer); Ruth Ridley (new Social Media Advisor); Peter Depledge (Company Secretary); Igor Heyking (IT Media Consultant)

Thanks to the information provided in the phone poll, and the work of some enthusiastic members, we are pleased to be pushing the Herb Society forward. We are aiming at greater publicity in order to grow our membership, enabling us to interact further with the wider community in terms of education and support.

If you are not a member and would like to find out more about joining, do follow this link for more information about benefits: http://herbsociety.org.uk/join-us.htm

If you are like me, and have been a member for a while without getting involved, why not get in touch? We are always looking for voluntary help, and it’s a great way of meeting people. Let us know if you have a particular area of expertise that might be useful, or if you would like to start a local herb group. Look out for specific pleas for help in the magazine, or email info@herbsociety.org.uk with a bit about yourself.

Here’s to a great year ahead!

Written by Ruth (Social Media Advisor and herb enthusiast).