Richard Hazell was Chair of WWOOF UK's Council for many years. He retired from this formal role in October 2016 but agreed to stay with us as an honorary adviser to share his expertise as a solicitor and the wisdom accrued from his long experience. Here he reflects on his time with WWOOF UK so far.
WWOOF became a company limited by guarantee in 1993, when we realised that the organisation had no limitation of liability in place to prevent us from being sued (as almost happened that year, when we didn't pay a publisher's bill!). I was one of the first directors of the limited company.
The directors have taken care over the years not to have an ‘us and them’ attitude to management, but to try to involve all relevant people and to make any decision by consensus. In the early years this meant that we had a management team of the directors, the WWOOF UK staff and the WWOOF Independents staff and this has generally worked well. Yes we have had to deal with difficult situations, people have come and gone; but we always talked the issue out and generally came to a decision with which most of us were happy, and we have tried hard to maintain the basic service to our members.
We have been very lucky in attracting both as staff and as directors people who not only shared our vision of what Edward (Acland – host, RHC and ex-director) used to call ‘the organic mind set’ and of ‘living lightly on the land’, but who also had very particular skills and experience to lend to us, such as IT, the law, management development and the recruitment and selection of staff in accordance with Equal Opportunities.
WWOOF faces a number of challenges and opportunities and we need more directors who can share the workload of carrying forward our vision of an organic future. In particular, it would be nice if any younger solicitors who are WWOOFers could become involved and could gradually take over the reins of giving legal advice to the directors and staff. If I can do it, anyone can!