Results of poll to amend the Society’s Bye-laws – Special General Meeting

Latest update: 19 February 2021

RHS members have voted in favour of a change to the RHS Bye-Laws to enable RHS Council, in circumstances deemed exceptional, to support the election of a new member of Council who, at the date of nomination, has been a member of the RHS for less than three years.

The Special General Meeting was held on 19 February 2021 to announce the results of the poll on Council’s proposed change to the Bye-laws, that would take effect immediately.

The results of the poll were:
For 3199
Against 669

In order to introduce the new amendment in a measured way, Council has also decided only two people who have been members of the RHS for less than one year can be ordinary members of Council at any one time.

Read the full minutes of the Special General Meeting (87kB pdf)

What will the changes mean to the RHS and why were they proposed?

Keith Weed, RHS President, explains what the changes mean for the RHS and how they will help the gardening charity be in better shape to support the UK’s nation of gardeners in the future.

This change to the Bye-laws that members have supported will enable RHS Trustees to approach people of talent from a wide range of backgrounds, who may not yet be members. While RHS Council has a wealth of horticultural knowledge and rich mix of commercial and charitable experience, it urgently needs critical new skills and experience in technology, data, mental health, inclusion and environmental and social sustainability to further strengthen its role in society. We cannot afford to wait to access exceptional candidates who have the skills it needs now.
We want to thank all our members who participated in this vote. Our horticultural knowledge and passion for gardening is core to everything the RHS does, and must always be embedded through this charity, but we must also adapt to ensure we continue to thrive for the next 200 years.
For example, some 30 million people used our website last year to grow their gardening knowledge, demonstrating how vitally important it is that, as well as having the highest levels of horticultural knowledge, we must also improve our technical expertise and further innovate in the digital world to succeed as a charity and best support this nation of gardeners. To achieve this we need to widen our talent pool and build the right balance of skills and mix of backgrounds so the RHS continues to thrive and be relevant into the future.

The RHS wants to help people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy the benefits of gardening at a time when gardening of any sort is needed now more than ever before. In 2021, we therefore plan to increase our community outreach work and support even more schools to garden just as soon as we are able to. By being a more open inclusive society we hope to help people from all backgrounds, with or without gardens to get gardening and access nature, be it growing plants in your garden or your home, herbs in a pot in the kitchen, joining a community group or harvesting vegetables from an allotment. The RHS has a place for everyone.
We need to have a more inclusive approach, which should start at the top and must therefore include the Council (our trustees) to ensure it better reflects the backgrounds, interests, knowledge and needs of all of us.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.