Chairman’s Report 2017

Published by Judy Torrance on


Berwickshire Civic Society’s AGM Friday 17th November 2017


I hope you will find this Chairman’s report commendably brief, reflecting that when you read it I will have been trusted with this position for just a short couple of months.

My job ought to be to report to you the work of the committee over the past year. However this year our main task is to record our thanks for the long and valuable work put into the Society by some of our leading lights who are now feeing the need to step back from their huge commitments to the Society.

Firstly Matthew Gibb is departing after a long stretch as our Chairman. Under his Chairmanship the Society developed, confirmed its formal charitable status and instigated a much admired architectural award which recognised some of the very best buildings and projects across the County. Importantly he gained confirmation that we could, again, respond on planning matters across the whole of the Old County of Berwickshire. His mantra that we need to recruit and support the next generation of membership is one I support and urge action on.

Robin Kent is retiring as Hon Architect. For many years Robin has offered us great professional architectural advice and helped to put great design and conservation principals at the heart of what the Society does. This was not Robins first stretch as Hon Architect so out thanks for his commitment are huge and we have the benefit of past articles to remind us.

Barbara Morris has been a mainstay of the Society for far, far longer than I have been a member. As Hon Planning adviser she has commented on thousands of planning applications for the Society and reviewed countless thousands more. Her contribution has been immense and can be found in real physical form across the County where hundreds of buildings will be improved because of the lack of PVC windows or use of more sympathetic materials and methods that were a frequent result of her comments.

Thankfully Barbara has given us some ongoing guidance so we hope that the immense body of work can continue in new hands.

Our thanks go to all three for their huge dedication, effort and for promoting the heritage that Berwickshire has to offer. I hope that the next edition of the magazine can provide a fuller appreciation of the scale and range of contributions made by our retiring officers over the past half century.

The most exciting work of the Society this year has been led by Peter Leggate who intends to right a wrong (or a least an upright an urn!) on the de la Bastie Mounment rebuilt by the Society a quarter of a century ago.

The Society has responded to fewer planning matters this year, but in recent weeks that work has accelerated with a range of submissions and our current consideration of the emerging Local Development Plan. Our monitoring of wind farm development continues with some successes in withdrawn applications but some schemes still awaiting determination.

The Society’s work this year has been a little more erratic than normal, but I hope that with a refreshed and enthusiastic committee, 2018 can see the Society more active in its role as a non statutory planning consultee and in promoting Berwickshire’s heritage – both built and natural.

2018 should see a refreshed website, importantly holding the archive of past magazines which holds a wealth of knowledge for those of us with an interest in Berwickshire. I hope we will soon be able to share our heritage, and our work, with anyone who is interested using the best of social media.

My personal thanks go to our Hon Secretary and Treasurer for keeping the Society on track and in good form as we move towards the Society’s half-century.
Mark Rowley
Interim Chairman
17th November 2017

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