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CONSTITUTION OF THE OLGAR TRUST

NAME
01. The name of the organisation shall be the ‘Olgar Trust,’ hereafter referred to as ‘the Trust.’

ADMINISTRATION
02. Subject to the matters set out below, the Trust and its property shall be administered and managed in accordance with this constitution by the members of the Witan Assembly, constituted by clause 20 of this constitution.

OBJECTS
03. The objects of the Trust shall be to conserve, for the benefit of the public, woodland and associated open land in England and Europe.

STRUCTURE
04. The Trust shall be based in England and Europe.
05. The Trust shall be a structured organisation with representation at local level.
06. The Trust shall be non-party political and non-sectarian in its affairs.

POWERS
07. In furtherance of the objects, but not otherwise, the Witan Assembly may exercise the power to raise funds and to invite and receive contributions provided that in raising funds the aforementioned Assembly shall not undertake any substantial permanent trading activities and shall conform to any relevant requirements of the law.
08. In furtherance of the objects, but not otherwise, the Witan Assembly may exercise the power to buy, take on lease, or exchange any property or land necessary for the achievement of the objects and to maintain and equip it for use.
09. In furtherance of the objects, but not otherwise, the Witan Assembly may exercise the power to sell, lease or dispose of all or any part of the property of the Trust, subject to any consents required by law.
10. In furtherance of the objects, but not otherwise, the Witan Assembly may exercise the power to borrow money and to charge all or any part of the Trust’s property, excluding woodland, with repayment of the money so borrowed, subject to any consents required by law.
11. In furtherance of the objects, but not otherwise, the Witan Assembly may exercise the power to employ such staff, (who shall not be members of the Witan Assembly,) as are necessary for the proper pursuit of the objects and to make all reasonable and necessary provision for the payment of pensions and superannuation for them and their immediate dependants.
12. In furtherance of the objects, but not otherwise, the Witan Assembly may exercise the power to co-operate with other charities, voluntary bodies and statutory authorities operating in furtherance of the objects or of similar charitable purposes and to exchange information and advice with them.
13. In furtherance of the objects, but not otherwise, the Witan Assembly may exercise the power to establish or support any charitable trusts, associations or institutions formed for all or any of the objects.
14. In furtherance of the objects, but not otherwise, the Witan Assembly may exercise the power to appoint and constitute such advisory committees as the aforementioned Assembly may think fit.
15. In furtherance of the objects, but not otherwise, the Witan Assembly may exercise the power to do all such other lawful things as are necessary for the achievement of the objects.  

MEMBERSHIP
16. Membership of the Trust shall be open to anyone interested in furthering the objects and who has paid the relevant subscription fee laid down from time to time by the Witan Assembly.
17. Every member over the age of 16 years shall have one vote in any elections held.
18. Application for membership shall be made to the Witan Assembly who shall have the right, for good and sufficient reason, to refuse or terminate membership provided that a person shall have a right to be heard before his or her membership is terminated.
19. Any member who, in the opinion of the Witan Assembly, brings the Trust or its aims and ideals into contempt or disrepute shall be liable for dismissal.

WITAN ASSEMBLY
20. The Trust shall be controlled by its Witan Assembly, a governing body comprising of between three and thirteen members.
21. The Witan Assembly shall have an Elder from its own body who will, amongst other duties, oversee the appointment of all other members to vacant posts on the aforementioned Assembly from Trust members.
22. The Elder of the Witan Assembly shall take the title ‘Witan Elder’ for the duration of his or her period of office.
23. At the annual general meeting of the Trust the members shall elect from amongst themselves the Witan Assembly, whose Assembly Members shall hold office from the conclusion of the meeting for a period of four years.
24. All the members of the Witan Assembly who have served four years in post shall retire from office at the end of the next annual general meeting, but they may be re-elected.
25. The proceedings of the Witan Assembly shall not be invalidated by any vacancy amongst their number, or by any failure to appoint or any defect in the appointment or qualification of a member.
26. No one shall be appointed as a member of the Witan Assembly who is aged under 18 years.
27. No one shall be appointed as a member of the Witan Assembly who has not been a Trust member for at least six months.
28. No person shall be entitled to act as a member of the Witan Assembly whether on a first or on any subsequent entry into office until the person’s name has been recorded in the minutes of the aforementioned Assembly.
29. A member of the Witan Assembly shall cease to hold office if her or she is disqualified from acting as a member of the aforementioned Assembly by virtue of section 72 of the Charities Act, 1993 (or any statutory re-enactment or modification of that provision.)
30. A member of the Witan Assembly shall cease to hold office if he or she becomes incapable by reason of mental disorder, illness or injury of managing and administering his or her own affairs.
31. A member of the Witan Assembly shall cease to hold office if he or she is absent without the permission of the aforementioned Assembly from all their meetings held within a period of six months and the Witan Assembly resolve that his or her office be vacated.
32. A member of the Witan Assembly shall cease to hold office if he or she notifies to the Witan Assembly a wish to resign, (but only if at least three members of the aforementioned Assembly will remain in office when the notice of resignation is to take effect.)
33. No member of the Witan Assembly shall acquire any interest in property belonging to the Trust, (otherwise as a trustee for the Trust,) or receive remuneration or be interested, (otherwise than as a member of the aforementioned Assembly,) in any contract entered into by the Witan Assembly.   

MEETINGS AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE WITAN ASSEMBLY
34. The Witan Assembly shall hold at least two ordinary meetings each year.
35. The Witan Assembly shall formulate all policy relating to the Trust and its members. Its decisions shall be final and binding on all members.
36. The Witan Elder shall act as ‘chair’ at meetings of the Witan Assembly. If the Witan Elder is absent from any meeting, the members of the Witan Assembly present shall choose one of their number to be ‘chair’ of the meeting before any other business is transacted.
37. Meetings of the Witan Assembly shall proceed only after more than half of its eligible current members, representing a quorum, have assembled.
38. The Witan Assembly shall keep minutes of the proceedings at its meetings.
39. The Witan Assembly may, from time to time, make and alter rules for the conduct of their business except that no rule may be made which is inconsistent with this constitution.
40. The Witan Assembly may appoint one or more sub-committees consisting of three or more members of the aforementioned Assembly for the purpose of making any inquiry or supervising or performing any function or duty which, in the opinion of the Witan Elder, would be more conveniently undertaken or carried out by a sub-committee; provided that all acts and all proceedings of any such sub-committees shall be fully and promptly reported to the Witan Assembly.

RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURE
41. The funds of the Trust, including all donations, contributions and bequests, shall be paid into an account operated by the Witan Assembly in the name of the Olgar Trust at such bank or building society the aforementioned Assembly shall, from time to time, decide.  
42. All cheques drawn on the account of the ‘Olgar Trust’ shall be signed by two authorised signatories.
43. All funds raised shall be used to further the Trust’s objects provided that out-of-pocket expenses may be repaid.

PROPERTY
44. The Witan Assembly shall cause the title to all land held by, or in trust for, the Trust which is not invested in the Official Custodian for Charities, and, all investments held by or on behalf of the Trust to be invested in not less than three individuals appointed by the aforementioned Assembly as holding trustees. Holding trustees may be removed by the Witan Assembly at their pleasure and shall act in accordance with the lawful directions of the aforementioned Assembly. Provided they act only in accordance with the lawful directions of the Witan Assembly, the holding trustees shall not be liable for the acts and defaults of its members.   

ACCOUNTS
45. The Witan Assembly shall control the finances of the Trust and keep adequate accounts and records.
46. The Witan Assembly shall comply with their obligations under the Charities Act, 1993 (or any statutory re-enactment or modification of that Act) with regard to the keeping of accounting records for the Trust, the preparation of annual statements of account for the Trust, the auditing or independent examination of the statements of account of the Trust, and, the transmission of the statements of account of the Trust to the Charity Commission.

ANNUAL REPORT
47. The Witan Assembly shall comply with their obligations under the Charities Act, 1993 (or any statutory re-enactment or modification of that Act) with regard to preparation of an annual report and its transmission to the Charity Commission.

ANNUAL RETURN
48. The Witan Assembly shall comply with their obligations under the Charities Act, 1993 (or any statutory re-enactment or modification of that Act) with regard to the preparation of an annual return and its transmission to the Charity Commission.

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
49. There shall be an annual general meeting of the Trust which shall be held in the month of August in each year or as soon as practicable thereafter.
50. Every annual general meeting shall be called by the Witan Assembly. The Witan Elder shall give at least 21 days notice of the annual general meeting to all the members of the Trust. All Trust members shall be entitled to attend and vote at the meeting.
51. The Witan Elder shall act as ‘chair’ at each annual general meeting.
52. The Witan Assembly shall present to each annual general meeting the report and accounts of the Trust for the preceding year.
53. Nominations for election to the Witan Assembly must be made by members of the Trust in writing and must be in the hands of the Witan Elder at least 14 days before the annual general meeting. Should nominations exceed vacancies, election shall be by ballot.
54. The Witan Elder, or other person specially appointed by the Witan Assembly, shall keep a full record of the proceedings at every annual general meeting of the Trust.
55. There shall be a quorum when at least one twentieth of the number of members of the Trust for the time being or five Trust members, whichever is the greater, are present at any annual general meeting.

NOTICES
56. Any notice required to be served on any member of the Trust shall be in writing and shall be served by the Witan Elder or the Witan Assembly.
57. Any notice required to be served on any member of the Trust shall be either by personal service or by sending it through the post in a pre-paid letter addressed to such member at his or her last known address in the United Kingdom, and any letter so sent shall be deemed to have been received within 10 days of posting.  

AMENDMENTS
58. Amendments to this Constitution may be made by two-thirds of the Witan Assembly voting in favour of an amendment. However, no amendment may be made to clauses 01, 03, 33, 59, 60 or this clause without the prior consent in writing of the Charity Commissioners.
59. No amendment may be made which would have the effect of making the Trust cease to be a charity in law.

DISSOLUTION
60. If the Witan Assembly decides that it is necessary or advisable to dissolve the Trust it shall call a meeting of all members of the Trust, of which not less than 21 days notice, (stating the terms of the resolution to be proposed,) shall be given. If the proposal is confirmed by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting, the Witan Assembly shall have power to realise any assets held by or on behalf of the Trust. Any assets remaining after the satisfaction of proper debts shall be transferred to such other organisation or organisations having objects similar to those of the Trust as the Trust may decide, and if and in so far as effect can not be given to this provision then to some other charitable purpose. A copy of the statement of accounts, or account and statement, for the final accounting period of the Trust must be sent to the Charity Commission.

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Agreed version: 12th August, 2010ce

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES

Membership

A member is an individual who has joined the Olgar Trust charity by filling out an application form, reading the constitution and paying the appropriate membership fee (currently £9.00 per year/£45.00 Life.)

Membership brings with it a kind of ‘emotional stake’ in the Olgar Trust, as opposed to a looking in at the organisation from outside. The advantage of membership for the Olgar Trust is that if we had, say, 240 members we would be able to pay for all our running costs and publicity (such as the website and leaflets) from the membership fees, leaving all other donations to go to woodland conservation.

Ironically, by becoming a member, you could be bringing forward the day when a community in Somerset, Herefordshire or Suffolk get an Olgar Trust wood on their doorstep. However, this is similar to what occurred to the original members before we were in a position to buy our first wood in Sussex.

The Witan Assembly

This is the committee which runs the Olgar Trust. The structure was set up before the Olgar Trust became a charity and was carried through. In times past, the witan was a sort of parliament composed of people with certain skills or knowledge that advised the king.

The Witan Assembly of the Olgar Trust makes all the policy for the charity and controls the finances. Members who sit on the Witan Assembly are elected each August at the Annual General Meeting to serve for a period of four years (which may be renewed after that.)

Trustees

A Trustee of a charity is something very specific in law. In this respect he or she has the same responsibilities as an elected political councillor. Members elected on to the Witan Assembly become Trustees under our constitution. In theory the Charity Commission, who police charity law in Britain, could impose its own Trustees on the Olgar Trust. (This is unlikely for most charities.)

Being a Trustee carries extra responsibilities, namely, not to break charity law. Trustees who do so, by stealing charity money for example, could face fines or imprisonment.

Other individuals can also break charity law. For example if a person is purporting to collect money for a charity but that charity knows nothing about it.

Gift Aid

Individuals can sign a simple Gift Aid form indicating that any money given to a charity may have tax reclaimed. (This is only applicable for people who pay tax.) The Olgar Trust does use this scheme and claims hundreds of pounds per year from the Inland Revenue.

THE 'HAVAMAL' FOR VENUS WOOD

Enjoy the special, magical qualities of the wood by observing the following:

  • Adults are responsible for their own actions, irrespective of taking drugs or alcohol. Parents should be responsible for their own children.
  • Do not use violence, threatened or real, against another person or direct abusive language towards anyone else legally using the woods.
  • Respect other woodland users’ opinions and lifestyle and acknowledge that they may come from a different background, or hold a different world view, to your own.
  • Be aware of possible dangers to yourself and other people within the woodland environment. Avoid trip hazards and dangerous equipment.
  • Take extra care during times of tree work. Make others aware of the dangers falling trees present to adults, children and animals.
  • Try to leave the environment as you found it. Do not leave litter lying around and recycle as much waste and packaging as possible. If staying overnight please dig a latrine.
  • Only light fires in the designated fire-pit. Be extra vigilant in the summer and during periods of prolonged draught. Make sure any fires are put out at least an hour before you leave the wood.