The Future of the Whitewater Valley Conservation Society

The future constitution of the Whitewater Valley Conservation Society, as informed by the letter from the Chairman in advance of the Annual General Meeting of 3 December 2023, can be summarized as follows.

Historical Context

The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society was established in the late 1970s to combat proposals for dredging the River Whitewater for gravel. The Society has since been involved in various activities, centered around the conservation of the chalk stream and its valley.

Constitutional Issues

By the early 2020s, the Society’s original constitution was deemed inadequate for current needs. It was a loose association without a legal entity, which brought limited structure, minimal presence, and potential personal risk to members due to increasing regulation and compliance requirements.

Key Reforms

Establishment of Legal Entity: The absence of a legal entity made members jointly and severally liable for the Society’s actions. To mitigate this, the Committee sought legal advice to address the issue.

Achieving Charitable Status: The lack of a separate legal entity also meant the Society could not attain charitable status, which had financial benefits for both the Society and its members. Establishing charitable status was seen as a means to grant the Society more substance, authority, and credibility.

Incorporation and Charitable Status

Following the advice from specialist solicitors, the Society formed a “Community Benefit Society” named the “Whitewater Valley Conservation Society”, which was registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. However, achieving charitable status also required confirmation from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, which was granted after two years.

Current Status

The transformation gained unanimous final support and approval, following a strong turnout for the vote, from the contributors at the AGM on 3 December 2023 at the Cross Barn, Odiham.

The new Whitewater Valley Conservation Society now operates as a separate legal entity with charitable status, having its own bank account and is set to continue the work of the former Whitewater Valley Preservation Society.


The Society commends the efforts of and thanks the Chairman, Candy Burnyeat, Andrew Soundy for legal oversight, and Hon Treasurer Rupert Wiggin for their roles in navigating the Society to its new status.