30 September 2020

Getting More Involved

At the AGM in October we elect the new committee for the Forest Hill Society. We are always keen to have new members on the committee, as well as existing members who wish to continue.

We are fortunate to have a committee consisting of many people who are passionate about Forest Hill and making a difference to benefit the area. The most visible way this can be seen is the planting and maintenance of plants around the town centre - even when activities had to be socially distanced. This year the Forest Hill Society has again been awarded “Outstanding” for the In Bloom competition organised by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Having more members on the committee means we get a better idea of what is important to you and the everybody in the community. And it also means more people to help at events and in campaigns.

We are particularly looking for people with an interest in the following areas:
Environment - including planting and gardening around the town centre and looking at ways to improve air quality in the local area

Transport - including improving roads for pedestrians and cyclists, ensuring Forest Hill is well served by public transport, and considering flight paths over Forest Hill
Planning and Development - including developing long-term plans for the town centre, and also reviewing planning applications in the area
Communications and Events - including contributing to our newsletter and arranging events for the community (e.g. book sales, gin tasting, history talks, pub quizzes Christmas tree lighting and carols).
This is a great time to get involved, and there are even rumours that we might have a new chairperson starting at the AGM.

You can put your name forward for the committee in one of two ways:
1. Email email@foresthillsociety.com to let us know you wish to stand
2. Join us at the AGM and raise your hand when we ask for nominations
and you can become part of the team that has been making Forest Hill even better for 14 years.

22 September 2020

Forest Hill Society AGM 2020

All members and non-members are welcome to attend our Annual General Meeting via Zoom on Wednesday, 7th October from 7:30pm.

The AGM is an opportunity to find out more about what is happening in Forest Hill, to share your concerns and to shape the future of the Society.

We would encourage all members who wish to get even more involved by standing for the Executive Committee, or joining one of our committees focused on Planning, Environment, Transport, or Communications. And we continue to be on the look out for a new chairperson for the Society.

Please register in advance of the meeting to receive joining instructions: https://fhsocagm2020.eventbrite.co.uk

If you are interesting in discussing any of the roles in the Society or how you can get more involved, please email email@foresthillsociety.com

19 September 2020

Surviving Lockdown at Shannon’s

By Linda Shannon of Shannon’s Garden Centre

Since the official lockdown on 23rd March we have had to adapt several times to new ways of trading. With our doors firmly shut to the public and a lockdown in place, it was hard to imagine how we would  sell plants. In our industry, March to June is our busiest season so it couldn't have come at a worse time. Stock had arrived, having been pre-ordered at the beginning of the year, and a lot more was already on the way to us.

We realised quickly that people still wanted to buy plants. We did not have an internet-selling platform as our stock changes weekly, even daily in busy seasons, and comes from many suppliers. We asked customers to email their wish-list orders to us. We were overwhelmed with emails, which sometimes reached 250 per day with all sorts of enquiries; and for seven weeks we worked 12-hour days answering emails and preparing orders for collection and deliveries for a quarter of our normal sales. Since we are a family-run business, we created our own small family ‘bubble’ and worked together in isolation. We had to be careful like everyone else because, if one of us got ill, we could all catch the virus.

Since the weather at the time was glorious, people were enticed into their gardens. Whether they were sheltering at home, working from home or home-schooling their children or were just busy frontline workers looking for escapism, they all needed gardening supplies to be able to grow plants; for that, it was worthwhile to keep going as a business. 

It was a relief when our industry was allowed to reopen and let customers back in to choose their own purchases. We realise how lucky we were, as other local businesses could not open at that time. Customers came back and initially we had queues around the block!

We had good stock levels when we reopened but, as things started to sell through, we realised that new stock was either not available or on a long delay.  Understandably, upon lockdown, plant growers had to stop growing their plants. Instead of us choosing which plants we need, we now have to be content to take what the growers have. It's always a mystery what turns up! Compost was the new toilet roll as people bought it in large amounts in a small period of time; and we had to limit the quantities being purchased. The manufacturers of compost then went into lockdown and ultimately furloughed staff, which resulted in reduced stock levels and only larger bags of compost being packed for sale. 

During this strange time we have seen new gardeners who, whilst being confined to their houses, have rediscovered their gardens. With an enthusiasm to sow and grow their own vegetables and plants and the time to tend and care for them, they have been able to reap the benefits of gardening. 

It’s heart-warming to see people venturing back out and choosing our garden centre as the place they feel safe to shop in, and we are thankful we have been able to open for business. Many have commented since restrictions have lifted how grateful they were that they were able to source their gardening needs while under lockdown, and that gardening helped keep them sane.