Sue Coppard, founder of WWOOF, was unable to join us for the Members Weekend this year but sent this appreciation to be read out at the AGM meeting, where Richard officially let go of the reins.
Richard joined WWOOF in 1976 – forty years ago! – and we owe him a great debt of gratitude. He has helped and worked for WWOOF in so many ways; indeed he’s been propping up WWOOF for over three decades!
Richard’s first job, if I recollect, was to take over from me the job of running our annual conference get-togethers. During this time a crisis arose: two WWOOF members (that is David Holman and I) were threatened with a court case over an alleged £3,000 that WWOOF UK owed for printing our Working Organic Reference Manual and Sourcebook (WORMS for short!) – a project to publish a DIY organic training manual as so little organic training was available at the time. The brilliant David Holman, together with his solicitor friend, got us off the hook by pinpointing all the flaws in the printer’s case, and he dropped it. (Sadly, the excellent WORMS manual was never published; however, it is being partly recycled in the newly launched, universally accessible Erasmus/WWOOF organic training website.) This crisis taught us an important lesson: if you are an unincorporated association anyone can sue any member they care to pick on! In his role as WWOOF’s in-house solicitor, Richard masterminded our transformation into a limited liability company in September 1993, so that no one could threaten us in this manner again. (Just imagine the situation if a WWOOFer had lost a leg or worse!) Later, in 2008 after several attempts, he managed to acquire charity status for WWOOF UK. He has also been Chairman of our Council of directors for many years.
What a hole will be left in the WWOOF UK structure by Richard’s ‘retirement’. Thankfully, however, he has agreed to continue helping us in an advisory capacity. So, Richard, our very grateful thanks for all you have contributed to WWOOF, we wish you many happy times ahead with us.