Though back at the beginning of last month the English Apples & Pears (EAP) AGM still stands out in my mind for a number of reasons, principally because of the amount of work that has quietly been going on in the background. Anyone who has taken on an industry institution knows that there is the potential to stall in the midst of the traditions, the established way of doing things and also to overcome the challenges left by the departure of the previous incumbent.

Volunteer committees are always created through the devotion of already busy, talented people (the adage ‘always ask a busy person’ certainly rings true as you look around the EAP board) and it’s tough taking on something that is dependent on folk whose primary focus isn’t that which you have just taken on. With Phil Acock as the new chair leading an extended board changes have been made and this new structure will provide the basis for improvements in communication, governance and accountability. With the new CEO reporting in to the board rather than sitting as a member, there is clearly a great relationship between Steve Munday and Phil. The cracking pace that they maintained throughout the meeting was delivered with a lot of humour! Administration has also been streamlined – the British Growers Association have taken on the admin function, Richmond Towers (RT) have been appointed as the marketing agency in charge of both the Dessert and Bramley campaigns.

RT are one of the oldest, most respected and successful PR and communications agencies in the UK. This is a great step forward for the future of consumer facing messages about how great our home grown apples are. An agency that has a portfolio rich in food and produce brands, they have a team that have really understood the brief, who know consumer purchasing and engagement habits and understand the formula behind the success of the Summerfruit campaign. Refinements are needed to the branding, the messaging is great, literally, the imagery clear and already the work has begun with the creation of a portfolio of images of every variety from bud break onwards to illustrate the beauty of our workplace.

What of the future? Well Steve is firmly in control, he has a great board around him and an agency giving best value and impact for the substantial budget available – EAP has better funding than the summerfruit campaign these days, it’s fair to expect truly great things from Richmond Towers. The launch of the season this year will take a completely different format – ‘gone’ is that formal dinner with the disconnect from the consumer, ‘in’ will be an extended press engagement programme starting far earlier in the year to warm up all channels, ‘in’ will be a big event launching the season, ‘in’ is direct engagement with the retailers from the RT team who know exactly how that works and also ‘in’ will be a multi level understanding of making social work for the sector, hallelujah!

No column written at the end of April can be devoid of the talk of frost. Sadly we are not out of the danger zone yet with three more nights forecast the news may continue to worsen. Many sites that have historically had problems appear to have been missed but sadly there is some damage in all regions – with such a phenomenal volume of blossom this year lets hope its just been some judicious thinning! My facebook page has been full of images of candles burning in orchards and vineyards, across Europe there are reports of frost damage in the South Tyrol and the wine regions of Chablis and the Languedoc have reported damage from successive nights as low as -6.

With bad forecasts in mind, I thought that the pictures this month should be about how fantastic orchards can be and of some of the pollinators busy giving us a hand.