Tilehurst Horticultural Association


11th February 2016

Around 70 members gathered at the Village Hall on 11th February 2016 to celebrate a special occasion – our 75th AGM.  It was in 1941 as a result of the Dig for Victory campaign in World War II, that a group of gardeners and allotment holders formed what was originally the Tilehurst and South West Reading Allotment Holders Association.  The real need then was to obtain lime and fertilisers, which at that time was difficult for individuals, so a trading association was formed.  The Association is still today a thriving organisation, with sheds for the purchase of gardening supplies, together with winter talks, plant stalls and, of course, a well-supported Summer Show. 

At the AGM, the appointment of a new President of the Association, Lynne Jones, was confirmed. During 2015, our previous President, Alec Simmons, had retired because of ill-health and he was unfortunately unable to attend this evening; it was, however, announced that a new trophy had been purchased in recognition of his contribution to the success of the organisation. This trophy, the Alec Simmons Trophy, will be presented to a winning exhibitor for the first time at the Summer Show on 6th August 2016.  Alec has also been given Life Membership of the Association.

Alec with the new trophy

It was also announced that Edna Shepherd has decided not to continue arranging trips. As thanks for her contribution in arranging trips for over 15 years, she was presented with a bouquet of flowers. A further presentation of a plaque, together with Life Membership of the Association was given to Ray Haines, who has relinquished the role of Trading Secretary, although he will remain in situ until a successor can be found. 

Finally, the Chairman, Joan Macphee, announced her own retirement.  Later in the evening she was also presented with a plaque and an arrangement of flowers.

Pauline Sinclair and Joan Macphee

Terry Bryant was proposed and elected as new Chairman and took over the chair of the meeting. 

Terry Bryant taking over from Joan Macphee

The theme of the social evening which followed the business of the Annual General Meeting was “Dig for Victory” and members rose to the occasion by dressing in 1940s style, with music and refreshments appropriate to that time.  To the strains of Glenn Miller and in a Village Hall decorated in red, white and blue, they enjoyed Spam sandwiches and Lord Woolton Pie, accompanied by sherry and local ale. 

To set the scene, Tilehurst historian, Mike Cooper, gave a short talk to illustrate life in Tilehurst in 1941 and there was interesting discussion about the nurseries and market gardens which, next to the potteries, were significant employers at that time. 

Mike Cooper

The 75th Anniversary cake, made by Christine Imber, was cut by our new President, Lynne Jones, and member Edna Shepherd.  Edna has been an active member of the Tilehurst Horticultural Association since 1956. 

Lynne and Edna cutting the celebration cake

There was a display of wartime memorabilia, loaned by Alec Simmons, including a gas mask, a crystal radio, and an accumulator and photographs of old Tilehurst.  We also had on display photographs and documents from the early days of the Association.  

This formed the basis of an entertaining table quiz and the evening concluded with a free raffle.  Prizes were generously donated by Greenfingers.com, Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, Hare Hatch Sheeplands, Justseed.com, Peter Nyssen Ltd, Primrose.co.uk and Whetman Pinks Ltd.  

The winning quiz team

Members also received the floral arrangements, made by Julie Crawford, as raffle prizes. 

More photos of the evening are in our Gallery.  

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