Mick joined the WEGA Committee at an AGM, in the 1980s, along with his friend Eddie Marshall who had a plot at Northleigh Road. Mick then went on to become Chairman and Eddie Treasurer as the previous generation retired or died.
During his time as Chairman of WEGA, there was a period of allotment association self-management which was ended by the Council, and in the last few months we were beginning to talk about that again. WEGA also managed to get a few grants, so they were able to do some repairs, renewals and additional facilities on the sites, despite lack of resources. Mick himself repainted the Northleigh Road pavilion with a 14 year old assistant, and as well as leading the Committee he was always there to do the practical work of erecting marquees or setting out tables for the shows, putting up decorations or organising raffles for the annual party.
When allotments became less popular and vacancies started climbing, Mick kept everything going on the sites, trying to encourage the next generation to get involved so the sites wouldn’t end up being sold off to developers. He was old enough to know about the loss of 3 sites already when the Council sold Lime Tree Road site 1 for housing after telling WEGA it was going to be a wildlife area. So he encouraged new people to come on the Committee and welcomed ideas for changes which could help to revitalise allotment sites. For example, Kate Lancaster was the first woman on the Committee in the 1970s, at a time when most plots were rented by men and many wives never set foot on the sites. Kate Lancaster took on the role of Show Secretary and donated a cup for the most points in the 3 shows that WEGA used to hold up to 2019. Mick supported her efforts to put WEGA on the map when the Birmingham Annual Show used to be held at Kings Heath Park. They would go in Mick’s mini and Kate and her husband George went in their Ford car, both cars full to the top with exhibits. The Police would stop them and say: ‘Are you trying for the record?’ WEGA’s plotholders continued to win lots of cups and awards over the years, including the Frank Carter Shield for Community Involvement in 2012.
A real people person, Mick was always available to people wanting to learn about growing or worried about anything to do with what was going on at site level. Many of us benefited from his wise advice over the years. He was good with children of plotholders and children visiting the site as part of school parties or attending events. And if you needed some tips, he’d be ready with these when you went to buy your compost or chicken pellets at the Stores.
Mick was also an active member in the BDAC where he was on the Executive, as well as the National Allotment Society, suggesting ideas and making proposals as well as helping to run and taking part in events, shows, and meetings. He will be much missed for his contributions which were always timely and based on experience.
Everyone will miss his presence – even those who didn’t know him or were too new to have met him at all. He was at the heart of our Association and his legacy will be if we can keep it going beyond the many changes that happened during his watch, and which will continue to challenge us in the future.
For more images of Mick at WEGS click here
Article reproduced from Ward End Gardeners Association (WEGA) website
Hester – WEGA Secretary