Afternoon tea with Susan Hick.

I thought as a tribute to Susan, I would record for all some sense of Susan’s past and TT activity and highlights.We all have learned a lot from Sue over the years with her abundant knowledge, calm, reassuring manner yet with a firm understanding of the direction she wants to go. I would like to personally thank you Sue for all of the patience and understanding you have shown me over the years.

Past:

1973 -76: Sue was fortunate in being on the second intake of the first Rural Environment Studies course in the UK. She studied at the Wye College in Kent, which was at that time part of London University. Wye College was a well-known study and research centre in the fields of rural business and management, biological sciences, and the environment and agriculture. Sue met her husband Jim to be during those early years. Sue recalls visits  to the college by many luminaries of those days most notably by Errnest Friedrich Schumaker, author of the book “Small is Beautiful, as if people mattered” and founder of the Schumaker Institute.

1976 – 82:  Following graduation, Sue worked overseas with her husband in Papua New Guinea teaching agricultural science. In those days the Island had little income to spend on fertilisers and many of the villagers used organic means. Sue learned a great deal about village life which helped consolidate much of what she had learned in her Wye college days. Her first 2 children were born there.

Having returned to the UK Sue took to being a full time mum.

1997 – 2009: Having first received grant funding, Sue worked at Dilston College providing practical vocational skills for the students where they cooked their own food in the college kitchen. Sue set up a veg box scheme to provide additional funding for the students and to provide experience of a business outlet to deepen the vocational learning.

Transition Tynedale:  

It was Sue’s horticultural knowledge outside of flora and the veggie boxes which brought Sue to the attention of Ross Menzie and Peter Sampson who at that time along with Gillan and Jo Burill were founders of Transition Tynedale. Ross asked Sue if she would do a public presentation about how to grow your own food back in 2008. Having formed TT the questions at that time were what are we to do? It was decided to raise awareness of sustainability issues and two groups were formed, the Energy group and the Food group. Sue was instrumental in launching the food group and at that time the Hexham Community Partnership ( HCP ) were trying to engage the run down East Hexham community . fFunding was found for Number 28 as a social project of which gardening was one of many projects undertaken therein. Sue was invited to run gardening courses at Number 28 and various raised beds took shape as did a more formal plan for the garden. The headmaster at Hexham Middle School, Mr David Watson, admired the work done at No 28 and invited Sue and Ross to look at a portion of land at the HMS which was abandoned but had at one time been an allotment. David planned a partnership of work between the TT members and school children engagement.

The HMS garden project was started and members came forward, in particular Megan, Pat, and David, and with the help of Elizabeth and her husband over the years HMS garden has become what it is today. There were set backs. The Dunblane disaster led to a requirement for additional security which was a drain on school resources and in 2011 the stock market crash brought hardship to school funding meaning cutbacks on many school activities.

Sue and Debbie jointly ran the Hexham market TT stall and Sue set up a garden share scheme.

2013 – 2015 Sue took a break for a few years to be with her husband in Singapore

2015:  Back in the UK, Sue went with other TT members, Richard, Rosemary and others to Todmorden to look at the “Incredible Edible Todmorden”  movement to see if such a movement could happen in Hexham. A fund raising event ran and Rosemary acquired funding from the Northumberland Community Fund” , Wendy got funding from the RHS, as well as the Hexham Courant. The purpose of Edible Hexham was to promote awareness of local food production. Sue knew she had to engage with other local groups such as Hexham in Bloom.  Hard work paid off and Sue found help from local businesses in particular the Garden Cafe near the Hexham Old Jail.

Highlights from TT:  

Knowing that she founded something special and needed which for her was the HMS garden and Edible Hexham. Receiving an award from the council for community engagement and an invitation for 2 ladies to a Queens garden Party in May. In particular making new and valuable friendships through TT and Edible Hexham.

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