Principles and Plans

This page contains more information about how the Co-op is structured and managed. Near the bottom of the page are links to Policies and Plans members’ have written to help manage the woodland. 

‘Top Level’ Rules

Our Co-op has a set of ‘top-level’ rules which are the basic minimum for the organisation to operate legally and equitably. These are a tried and tested set of standard rules provided by Co-operatives UK.

Secondary level rules, policies and plans can then be agreed by the membership at a later date. The objects, or aims, of the Society can be found on the ABOUT US page. The full legal rules of Stroud Woodland Co-op are available to shareholders from the Secretary, Dominique Shead ().

A brief summary of what these rules mean in practise is set out below. Please contact Dom if you have any questions.

Our Co-op has been set up as a community benefit society. This is a legal entity that can do things like own land and sell shares. For legal reasons our name is ‘Stroud Woodland Community Benefit Society Limited’ but we are trading with the simpler name of ‘Stroud Woodland Co-op’.

The three ‘founder members’ who signed the documents to set up the Co-op were Richard Keating, Martin Large and Ben Spencer (who agreed to act as the first Secretary).

Further members, either individuals or organisations, have bought blocks of 500 one pound shares for £500. 64 blocks of shares were sold altogether.

The Co-op is obliged to keep a register of all members and Board members. These details can be viewed upon request by any other member.

The Co-op must hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM) within at least six months of the close of the financial year of the Society which is 31 January. The AGM includes:

  • the receipt of the accounts and balance sheet and a report by the Board
  • confirmation of exemption from auditing
  • the election of Board of Directors
  • a decision on what to do with any surplus money
  • any other business agreed before the meeting

We can also hold other formal business meetings called Special General Meetings (SGM) where members can vote on issues. Both of these must be minuted and kept in a minute book. In addition the Directors can hold formal, minuted, board meetings. Other less legally formal meetings can be held. These ‘core group’ and ‘working sub-group meetings’ should report promptly and regularly to the Board.

Board of Directors 

The Co-op must have a board  3-12 directors who deal with the business of the Society. The current directors are Ruth Illingworth, Barbara Imire, Nick Mills, Paul Sheridan, Dominique Shead and Jack Richardson.

At the first AGM all the founding directors stood down and elections were held. Directors can be re-appointed. The Board of Directors then elect a Chairperson and Treasurer (and other officers if required) and appoints a Secretary.


Stroud Woodland Co-op needs to produce an annual return each year for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This includes the accounts. Luckily our Co-op is small enough to be exempt from having to have its accounts audited. The Society must keep a copy of the latest balance sheet of the Society in a conspicuous place at the registered office (The Exchange, Brick Row, Stroud, GL5 1DF).

Return and Exchange of Shares

At the AGM in March 2012 we agreed the following process for the return and exchange of shares:

1. Existing shareholders and other people who have expressed an interest in buying shares are informed that this is a possibility by the secretary by email.
2. Details also put on this website.
3. People send expression of interest to secretary by email. These are recorded in the order they are received to create a waiting list.
4. Existing shareholders who have said they want to return shares are contacted by the secretary. They are asked to return their certificate and send a letter of resignation (basically a note confirming this) by a deadline.
5. The same number of people who have formally returned shares are contacted from the waiting list and asked to send in a £500 cheque and application form by a deadline. If not received by that date then next person on waiting list is approached.
6. New share ownership confirmed by email / letter. New certificates printed, with new share numbers.
7. £500s returned to former shareholders with thanks.
8. Membership list and Google email group updated.

Core Group Meetings

These are held whenever shareholders think it is necessary. There is no formal membership – anyone who attends a meeting is part of the Core Group, although we try to have at least one director there. Notes are then circulated to the shareholders by email via our Google Group.

Written by Ben Spencer, Secretary, Stroud Woodland Co-op Sept 2010, updated July 2014. Updated by Jack Richardson, May 2020. 

Looking After Folly Wood Plan

We took a year to research the plan. We wanted to ensure that we understood the wood and the various needs of group members. The plan is a framework for action against which an annual action plan is agreed at the AGM. (See ARCHIVE page for previous action plans.) The process for making the plan was co-ordinated by the Core Group and open to all members, particularly at Solstice and Equinox ‘Gatherings’, when group decisions were made. A central ethos was to enable all members to take action within an agreed framework. It is understood that over the coming years, different people will add more detail to the plan.

Click to read the “Looking After Folly Wood” plan: Looking After Folly Wood (2011). This includes an initial management plan for the woodland and shared, founding principles.

Action Plan (2014/15)

This is a simple plan drawn up by the members in 2014/15. It sets out what the members’ hoped to do in the coming year and the resources needed: Stroud Woodland Co Action Plan (2014/2015)


Legal Documents

GDPR Policy

A copy of Stroud Woods Data Protection and Privacy Policy is available here: Stroud Woodland Community Benefit Society Limited GDPR Policy_June2020

Website Information Statement

While every effort has been made ensure information on this website is from authoritative and up-to-date sources, Stroud Woodland Co-op can accept no liability for any loss made as a result of any error or omission.

Safeguarding Policy

A summary of the safegaurding policy is available here: Safeguarding Policy Summary (2013)

This is the full safeguarding document: Safeguarding Policy and Risk Assessment Form (2013)

Camping Guidelines

Camping guidelines for Folly Wood are available here: Camping-guidelines-for-Folly-Wood

Risk Assessment

A risk assessment form for anyone organising an event in Folly Wood is available here: Folly-Wood-risk-assessment-form