Going but not quite gone…

Some years ago, Jo and I went to an event at Halsway Manor at which, as I discovered later, she decided that we would join Friends of Quantock, of which I had never heard. However, I then found out that it owned two bits of Quantock Common, that the bits were very good for all sorts of wildlife, which is where my interests mainly lie, and that I might be allowed to meddle. I ought to know better at my age. Your interest is encouraged, your opinions are listened to, you are invited on to a committee, then you are a trustee and given a sort of job title. And before you know it, while preoccupied by saving a patch of bog plants, you are invited to become chairman – who better indeed than such a man?

Bartleby’s column in The Economist this week, headed Dare to follow considers the fact that there is a tsunami of books on leadership but not on how to be a follower. Only slightly tongue-in-cheek he considers follower types and their importance or otherwise in the paid workplace. What he does not do is to consider the voluntary sector, its demand for people to do things and how best to keep one’s head down and avoid responsibility.

To come to the point, I am resigning from the post of chairman. I’ve enjoyed meddling with a lot of things, some familiar ground, some quite new. Our Objects are to promote for the benefit of the public the conservation, protection and improvement of the landscape and natural environment of the Quantock Hills and that gives scope for a remarkably wide range of activity that needs to be done to a professional standard and, when dealing with the public sector in particular, with a fair degree of determination as its priorities and ours often differ.

So I’m very lucky in having a Committee of knowledgeable people with a very wide range of talents between them, plus some bloody-mindedness when needed. Thanks to our Project Officer Zoe and her successor Tracey we have done our best to keep you informed of what we do and why we do it. I hope in turn that makes you feel that we are worth supporting.

Amongst the most important of our roles is to support the work of the National Landscape team who are set ambitious targets by government but never as well-resourced as they need. And a personal aim has been, as far as we are competent, to help the commoners, the farmers, the landowners whose decisions, made in a time of real uncertainly, shape this landscape and its biodiversity.

Why am I resigning? Well, I hate to admit it but old-age – legs and brain not what they were. However, I hope to remain as an active Trustee, support my successor but mainly focus on the things I most enjoy, not least the wildlife of the hills.

John Andrews, May 2024