The 2013 FPT AGM was held on Friday 12th April in the Palmer Hall. After the Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting, the Chairman Stewart Benzie gave his report. It was with great sadness he announced the death of Denys Hodson, who will be a great loss to the community and will be sadly missed. He was FPT Chairman 1999-2002. FPT has nominated him for the 2012-13 FTC Citizen of the Year, a posthumous award not being without precedent.

The business meeting was quickly covered. The accounts showed that FPT income was slightly above expenditure. £600 is ring-fenced for the tree project. Stewart Benzie gave the Chairman's report. The main planning issue this year has again been the Pip's Field and Archstone developments. FPT's main concerns were traffic, sewage and possible flooding issues. An outline planning development has again been submitted for Lakes 103,104 etc. FPT with the help of Margaret Bishop has sent in an objection to this development.

The Committee was re-elected en bloc. Greg Phillips gave an account of the Tree Project, the application for the grant has now been submitted to the 'Big Tree Plant' and the outcome is expected early May.

Matthew Millett, Manager of the Cotswold Water Park Trust gave a detailed and informative account of the history of the Cotswold Water Park Trust, how it had overcome its difficulty in the last few years, its aims and achievements.

Interesting facts:

The main of the Cotswold Water Park Trust is to provide education, conservation recreation and leisure. For more information see

The 2012 AGM was held on Friday 13th April in the Palmer Hall.

The business meeting was quickly covered. The accounts presented by Phil Trickett showed that FPT was just about breaking even. Thanks to the very successful Garden Party last summer hosted by David and Jane Perry £489 was raised for the tree project. Stewart Benzie gave the Chairman's report. The main planning issue this year and been Pip's Field, the Archstone development next to Pip's Field will be submitted in the near future. Walkers Are Welcome is a new project in the town spearheaded by Ian Westlake, its aim to protect and promote footpath development in the area and encourage walkers to the town. He also talked about FPT's project to gain money from the 'Big Tree Plant'. It was with great sadness that the death of Len Eales, who had been a Committee member since 1994 and Secretary from 1996-2008 was reported, he will be sadly missed. The Committee was re-elected en bloc and the Chairman mentioned that there is now a vacancy on the Committee.

John Light, Chairman of Gloucestershire County Cricket Club since 2006 then gave members a very interesting and entertaining talk. He was brought up in Sheepscombe and was the great nephew of Laurie Lee who wrote 'Cider with Rosie'. He started with Rodborough Village Cricket team with occasional appearances at other clubs in the area as well as playing for Reading University. He became a headmaster at Balsall Heath, Birmingham, Plymouth and then Hackney. He became a involved with Gloucestershire Exiles Cricket Club and on retirement from teaching got the perfect job for a cricket lover, working for MCC; showing visitors round the cricketing museum at Lord's between playing times and watching the cricket from the Long Room during play and being fed very well at the same time.

The Gloucestershire Exiles got him a place on the Glos County Cricket Board and he became Chairman very soon. He talked about the difficulties of the different club grounds and the fact that 20/20 cricket funds the county championship and the Cheltenham Cricket Festival keeps the Club solvent.

Geoff Hawkes gave the vote of thanks.

The 2011 AGM took place on Friday April 1st at 7.30pm in the Palmer Hall.

Jon Stokes, National Director of Rural Programmes for the Tree Council, gave members a spirited and utterly absorbing presentation entitled 'Why Trees matter'. He set out to prove that from the time when Mesolithic man stopped being hunter-gatherers and made settlements trees have been managed in the landscape in exactly the same way as they are today:- coppicing, pollarding and using mature trees for timber.

Ancient field systems have been discovered in Cornwall and probably many of the field boundaries of today probably originate from those ancient field systems. In the first ever countryside landscape picture of England, of Henley on Thames in 1470, the countryside's pattern could be that of today.

Trees were worshipped by druids, each month having a tree god and those born in that month would carry a piece of that tree hence the term 'touch wood'. Instead of trees being planted in churchyards, it was rather than the churches were built where trees were objects of worship, thus many yew trees being older than the church. The green man image seen in many churches is a carry over of this ancient worship.

For hundreds of years the countryside was a hunting ground for Royalty and country landowners and nowadays for anyone, hedges were trimmed to the box shape to be therefore jumpable by horses, and that same tradition exists today. In the 19th Century the layered hedge came into existence when it was necessary to keep livestock off the rail track, this became known as the 'railway hedge'.

Jon is obviously passionate about trees and it is his aim within the next five years to get trees listed in the same way as significant buildings. With the help of his network of tree wardens he collects and records all notable trees in the country with the aim of giving them some protection.

Unfortunately our generation has not been so good at providing a tree inheritance for our grandchildren and if we would like to do something about it money is available - we just need to think of a project with a heritage aspect for the town.