A warm welcome from our new Chair Pip Sayers

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Hello! My name is Pip Sayers, I’m 22 and I’m a music teacher and performer. At the start of this month I was elected Chair of General Council, potentially making me the youngest chair of a trustee board in the country. I started my Woodcraft life as an Elfin in Bradford. One of my earliest memories of Woodcraft is being encouraged by my Elfin leader to perform on saxophone at the Christmas Merrymoot, a skill which has gone on to shape my education and now career. Woodcraft has offered me countless valuable and character defining experiences from Elfins right through to DFs, and now as a Venturer leader in

 Manchester it’s a joy to see it doing the same for the next generation.

Woodcraft Folk has a rich history of empowering young people and I’m very proud to be leading GC, a trustee board committed to improving the lives of young people, and a board where over half the members are under 25. You can find excellent examples of youth leadership at all levels of Woodcraft, from Scotland’s Council of the Smalls, to Venturer Committee, to General Council. We are truly a youth lead organisation.

There is plenty to be excited about right now. In March Woodcraft took over management of Biblins campsite in the Wye valley. It is a delightful location and a fantastic place to visit with your group or district. Our centres are a huge asset to our organisation, and GC are focused on supporting our centres to be both amazing facilities for young people, and ambassadors for Woodcraft to the wider public.

We have also recently welcomed not one but two new Chief Execs to the charity! Debs McCahon (Director of Development) and Sarah Welsh (Director of Finance and Operations) will be cooperatively leading Woodcraft Folk, helping us grow, reach wider audiences, and develop as an organisation. Cooperative principles are at the core of what Woodcraft does, and it’s great to be able to show the value of cooperation in our staffing structures as well as our group nights and camps.

This summer we launched our 7-year strategic plan outlining what we want Woodcraft to achieve between now and our 100th Birthday. The plan underlines our firm belief that young people from all communities should be able to benefit from Woodcraft, and that we have a duty to make this possible. Woodcraft was founded on the principle of inclusion, and we can build on where we have successfully reached into new communities to continue to diversify and grow as a movement.

Part of my role as chair is to make you, our membership, feel connected to General Council. You should be able to catch up on what we’ve been doing without having to trawl through the minutes of our meetings, so through using engaging ways of summarising our work I hope to make you feel more in touch with us. GC have also recently elected Elliot Francis-Hewett and Sapna Agarwal to be our joint accessibility and inclusion reps. They will be looking at how we can be more inclusive as a council, and how to ensure that all voices within Woodcraft are heard on GC, something that is vital for us to be an effective trustee board.

There is also plenty of excitement on the Woodcraft horizon. This summer VCamp will be taking place at Biblins from the 3rd-10th August. VCamp is a must for Venturers, DFs and Kinsfolk alike, and promises a week of workshops, games, people to meet and crucially, fun. We also have Common Ground, Woodcraft’s international camp taking place at Kent County Show Ground from the 1st-11th August 2020; a fantastic opportunity to engage with likeminded young people from across the globe as well as camp with Woodies of all ages from across the country.

Finally, next years Annual Gathering will be at Bramhope Camp Site, Leeds on the 21st-23rd June 2019. AG is a space to skill share, play games and socialise as well as being Woodcraft’s AGM. This year’s AG was a fantastic event, but lets make our next one even bigger and better. Hopefully I’ll see you there!

I feel very honoured to be Chair, and it is testament to Woodcraft that I have the skills and experience necessary to take on this role. Let’s go singing to the fashioning of a new world,