Gardens and Allotments society chairman retires after 52 years

Richard Lancaster (front) with Nim Whitmarsh at Garden & Allotment society show 2013 SUS-140320-084953001
Richard Lancaster (front) with Nim Whitmarsh at Garden & Allotment society show 2013 SUS-140320-084953001

The chairman of the Bexhill & District Gardens & Allotments Society, Richard Lancaster, has retired after dedicating 52 years to the local club.

Members of the Society bade farewell to Mr Lancaster when he officiated at his last Annual General Meeting (AGM) on February 21, held at Bexhill’s Royal British Legion Club.

Around 60 members attended the AGM to wish Richard well and thank him for all his hard work on behalf of the Society.

Mr Lancaster said retiring from the Society had been a hard decision, he said: “It has been a difficult year for me health-wise and reluctantly I have to retire as Chairman after 52 years with the Society and 50 years in office as Chairman - concurrently serving 46 years as Social Secretary.”

Mr Lancaster recalled some “wonderful times” that members had spent together, adding that with a new Committee he hoped these times will be repeated in the future.

He gave special thanks to the Society’s President, Councillor Stuart Wood and Vice-Chairman Brian Bestley for their support. Thanks were also given to Molly Elphick for her good work with membership and all the members for their continued support with the Shows and Outings, which Richard said proved to be “an excellent way for members to meet up.”

Paying tribute to Richard, Cllr Wood said that it was a pleasure to speak to the Society about their retiring chairman - fondly known as Dick - saying: “In some ways a sad evening but we are thankful you have given so many years of service and commitment to the Society.

“Lots of people have gained much pleasure over the years with the shows, outings and holidays.”

Cllr Wood said that having served in the role of chairman for 50 years must be something of a record, adding: “This is a kind of ‘This is Your Life’ – at one time you were Chairman of the Bexhill Horticultural Society and are a life-long member too. I know that you helped them at a time when they were in difficulties and you helped to keep that Society going. You help and support wherever possible.

“You have served the Bexhill & District Gardens and Allotments Society well all these years with both the former Bexhill Borough Council as well as Rother District Council. You have a wide knowledge and experience of staging the shows and this came about because you took it upon yourself to study and become a judge of vegetables – always a difficult task to get fulfilled and we owe you many thanks for this. Over the years you have put in many hours visiting and marking the allotments around Bexhill. The standard was always high and if there was something wrong you aimed to put them right.

“You have given so much pleasure with your leadership, not only those who are here but many who are no longer with us.”

Cllr Wood’s tribute received a hearty round of applause, followed by a presentation of gifts to Mr Lancaster including a framed print which members had signed on the reverse and a Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the Society.

Mr Lancaster said the gifts would be “a reminder of all the good times”.

As retiring Chairman Richard said it was lovely to see such a good turn-out at the AGM. He said: “Thanks again for your cards - about 94 in all - many saying how much they enjoyed the trips.

He added: “This is a particularly sad time for me this evening.”

Everyone in attendance was then invited to enjoy a buffet, supplied by Mollie and daughter Julie.