Friends Of Stelling Minnis

History of FOSM               Constitution                  Work Party Dates


The Society known as The Friends of Stelling Minnis (usually called FOSM) was formed in the late 1970s. As well as forming working parties to undertake work, which cannot be left to professionals with machinery, there is another important function. The existence of FOSM demonstrates that the local community is very much at the heart of Stelling Minnis.

If you would like to become a free life member of FOSM please print off the Membership Form (Click here to open PDF file) and when completed forward it to:

Ivor Champion
Ivy Cottage
Wheelbarrow Town
Stelling Minnis
Kent CT4 6AH

Tel 01227 709338
Mobile 07811 298144


History of FOSM

The Society known as The Friends of Stelling Minnis (usually called FOSM) was formed in the late 1970s. At that time the Minnis had become overrun with impenetrable bracken. Each year it grew to at least 6 feet and it obstructed views in all directions. There were a few open stretches, but not many, and today's walkers would have been forced to follow a few narrow tracks. The other problem occurred when there was a dry autumn and the rotting bracken constituted a fire hazard. It was not unusual to have the Fire Brigade called out in September and October several times each year to dampen down smouldering bracken and under growth.

The chairman of the Minnis Managers, then called Conservators, was the formidable Donald Dougall. He realised the size of the problem, and that it needed many pairs of hands and considerable resources to deal with the situation. He, and the Managers, called a public meeting to try to involve the whole community in the work. At that time their income was almost non-existent as there were no grants from the Ministry of Agriculture – the DEFRA of those days. There was an overwhelming public response and Bossingham Village Hall was full. It was decided to form the Friends of Stelling Minnis. The two main objectives were fund raising and forming working parties to tackle the problems and in many ways that hasn't changed.

In those early days FOSM also became involved in planning the work, and with changes in the membership of the Managers, were often left to take the lead. Every year walks took place on the Minnis to plan the coming year's work, which could involve up to 16 -18 people from the Managers and FOSM's Committee. The main priorities were getting rid of the bracken, widening tracks to create fire breaks and reopening old tracks. The first track to be reinstated was from the shop to the old bakery by Mill Lane. When you walk it today it is hard to imagine that 30 years ago it had become totally impassable.

Professional advice was obtained from the (then) Kent Trust for Nature Conservation, the Ministry, and independent specialists. The long term objectives were much as they are today – to return the Minnis to its natural downland habitat. First however the urgent task was to get rid of the bracken and create spaces and proper tracks. Options used in other parts of the country such as burning and spraying were considered but discounted as unacceptable to the community. It was decided just to cut the plants at a critical stage of its growth which would gradually kill it off. It was known that the cuttings should have been collected and disposed of, but there just weren't the resources. As a consequence the process took longer, but the fact that the Minnis is as you see it today must suggest that it worked. The problem in the 1980's had gone beyond control by any of the measures which are favoured today.

The other important, and time consuming work at that time for FOSM was fund raising, something it soon became very good at. To carry out the work and make a real impact needed the use of machinery, and that cost money. The big annual event was a Country Market based round Bossingham Village Hall and adjacent fields. It was great fun, well supported, and rather like today's Windmill Fete. Another scheme was a Hundred Club drawn monthly at the Rose and Crown under the gaze of the landlords, Phil and Jack Cocks. There were dances, some for youngsters, in the village hall, and once a year a bigger and grander affair at Canterbury's Westgate Hall. These efforts owed a great deal to Phyllis and Ron Champion and the Country Market was lead by Ann Day. At its height an annual income of £2500 was being generated.

It is also interesting to note that it was the only time that the community has had a real, direct, say in the management of the Minnis.

Gradually over a period of some years the bracken was cleared from many areas. However The Minnis Managers together with the Owner recognised that a longer term strategy would be required.

Plans for care and maintenance have been produced, the community consulted, and DEFRA's support and funding obtained. However FOSM is still needed today. As well as forming working parties to undertake work, which cannot be left to professionals with machinery, there is another important function. The existence of FOSM demonstrates that the local community is very much at the heart of Stelling Minnis. Everyone is urged to join and contribute.


1. The aim of the organisation is supporting activities, organising volunteer labour and to raise money to assist with financing projects concerned with the management of the Minnis. In particular the implementation of the current management plan produced by Kent Wildlife Trust and any future management plans adopted by the Managers of Stelling Minnis Common.
2. Membership is open to residents of Bossingham and Stelling Minnis and adjacent parishes. At the discretion of the Society’s Committee, members may be accepted from outside this area.
3. An Annual General Meeting (AGM), open to all members shall be convened in each yearly period running from 1st April to 31st March.
4. A Special General Meeting (SGM) may be called at the written request of a minimum of 5 members.
5. A quorum at the AGM or an SGM shall be 7 members.
6. Fifteen days notice shall be given of any AGM or SGM and will be publicly advertised.
7. A committee shall be elected at the AGM to manage the organisation and shall serve until the next AGM.
8. This Committee shall consist of at least 4 members including officers, one of whom shall be Treasurer and another shall be the Representative Trustee for the Stelling Minnis Charitable Trust.
9. A quorum at Committee meetings shall be half the committee plus one.
10. Membership is free and for life and kept on a register of members. A member may resign in writing at any time. Under 18’s will not be permitted to vote.
11. The Treasurer shall be responsible for keeping accounts and shall present the accounts duly audited for approval by the members at the AGM.
12. An auditor who is not one of the Committee shall be appointed to audit the accounts of the organisation.
13. In the event of decision by a meeting of the organisation to wind up the society, after all outstanding debts have been settled the balance of the funds shall be paid to the Stelling Minnis Charitable Trust for the care and maintenance of the Minnis, or any other similar organisation that replaces it.

25 June 2008

Work Party Dates

Dates are shown on the What's on page - click here to view.

We meet at 12.00 am and finish around 3.00pm with a break in-between.

If the weather is marginal and you want to check if a particular session is going ahead please contact Ivor Champion on 07811 298144 or 01227 709338.

We will not work in extreme wet conditions.

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 Updated 11 February 2024

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