The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps
Powering Chimney Sweeping into the 21st Century

AGM 2020 minutes

21 July, 2021

    Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps AGM on 29th February 2020. Chesford Grange Hotel, Kenilworth, Warwickshire

    Start of meeting 3.41pm

    Minutes from last AGM accepted.

    The Guild Chairman Lawson Wight (LW) opened the meeting and welcomed members.

    LW said a company AGM is required by law. We will have a presentation report covering activity and developments over the last year with some plans for the future. If anyone wants a copy of the financial report, please ask.

    LW presented the following reports:

    Training Report produced by Dave Woofindin

    42 candidates attended Guild courses, 29 of which were new to the industry and 32 new members to the Guild have been assessed. 36 members took the Refresher course, 10 CCTV course and 15 the Historic Property and Thatch course.

    As of December 2019 we have 430 members, with 20 trainees in process and 32 members left or retired. We have 3 new Guild Master Sweeps bringing the total to 54.

    Scottish sweeps report produced by John Stone

    In June 2019 the first fully interactive CCTV and pressure test course was held in Scotland, attendees came from across the northeast of Scotland. They trailed the RPS turn tilt prototype camera in an active chimney along with other makes for a full hands-on experience.

    In September we attended a Scottish Building Standards meeting in Glasgow. The intention of this meeting was to gain recognition for the Chimney sweep trade.

    In January we saw a sad start to the year as Keith Price retired from chimney sweeping to concentrate on battling cancer. Over £8000.00 has been raised by sweeps across the industry associations and organisations to help him.

    Also James Meah has retired from sweeping due to a pre-existing injury flaring up.

    In February 2020 the Guild held its 2nd ever Masterful Sweep course in Scotland.10 sweeps of which 2 were novices, 2 were installers and the other 6 were experienced sweeps wishing to join the Guild and gain further knowledge from attending the full course.

    We are continuing to grow and add members within Scotland from new as well as existing sweeps. They are attracted to the Guild for its ethos and professionalism. They tell us they consider being part of the Guild Sweeps is the greatest benefit to them and their business.


    In January 2020 we launched the new Trade website, the existing site was no longer suitable for an organization like the Guild. There are lots of functional changes which you can see by doing the video tour of the website (see ‘Latest News’ on the site). There is a valuable archive of many articles and information going back many years. Magazine archive. Training course information has been updated and completely redesigned. We now have online purchasing for the Guild shop, Burnright products etc.

    Please can all members check their profile entries on the findachimneysweep website and notify us of any changes.

    Facebook campaigns during Chimney Fire Safety week brought 176 likes and 750 people went to the findachimneysweep website. A ‘dead bird in chimneys scam’ was featured by BBC Rogue Traders. Guild Vice Chairman Sascha Meding along with other Guild members other were involved with uncovering the scammers. The article on this pushed 1800 people to the website. An article appeared on the BBC website about female chimney sweeps where Joanna Thurgur mentioned Burn Right. This sent 850 people to visit the BurnRight website. LW emphasized the value of stories of interest in raising the Guild profile.

    LW explained the idea behind ‘National Bird Guard’ week. It can boost the Chimney sweeping industry in March and bring focus to the Guild and individual members. We (all members) need to start it off. We have a dramatic video of what can happen over time showing 36 bird carcasses removed from one chimney. Members are asked to look at it, like it, share it and comment. Midtec have donated £100 to add to the online advertising budget. We’ll give you initial results at the dinner tonight.

    SweepStuff magazine, we still have the digital edition, but sending out a hard copy by post has proved very popular. We cover the cost of print and post through advertising. We will continue to develop this high quality publication and further it as the premier sweep magazine.

    Burnright Campaign

    We have entered another phase in 2019 through exhibiting at the NACS show and it became something a bridge building exercise. LW made a presentation to members of REHIS (Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland).  30 + influential Environmental Health Officers were given a 40 minute presentation and Q&A on efficient use of fires and fuels and details of the Burnright campaign. Steven Howard manned the Burnright stand at SootFest in the northwest England. Wilkins chimney sweeping franchise members hosted LW for a presentation at their annual meeting. Wilkins made a generous donation to the campaign. It has not been easy to keep Burnright independent from the Guild but it is essential as it continues to bring sweeps together in a common cause.

    Industry engagement

    Meetings have taken place with Government bodies, with SIA (Stove Industry Alliance), DEFRA, HETAS. Meetings were held with others regarding the NVQ and other matters.

    The show this weekend is the biggest chimney sweep gathering of the year. Visitor numbers are up again, bucking the trend of every other show. LW  thanked Steven Howard for all his organizational work.

    The DEFRA domestic policy on fuels – our engagement has started up again on behalf of Burnright and the Guild. We sent replies to DEFRA’s consultation on the killing of wild birds. The Guild paid for research on the law behind the ‘General Licences for the taking and killing of wild birds’. This was published on the website with a document outlining what a chimney sweeps responsibilities are if it is necessary to remove a live nest. The Guild were the only sweep association to respond to the government consultation on this issue.

    Thanks to Les Bowering and Andrew Taylor for their help organising a trip to Charnwood stoves. 10 Guild members had a superb day out with the great hosts at Charnwood. We are still looking for a liaison person to organise future trips. The CPL briquetting plant in Immingham that we visited three years ago is keen to arrange another trip. We as a Guild are keen to help members engage with other parts of the industry.

    Sascha Meding attended ECSHFOE IN 2019. Sascha is today standing down after 15 years as a Guild director. He suggested an app used by German chimney sweeping organisations that the Guild might want to utilise or find something similar. It would contain all sorts of information for Guild members and allow us to communicate more effectively with our membership. The Guild are looking into creating something like this for our membership. Sascha thanked the meeting and the Guild for their support over the last 15 years.

    The Chimney Safety Group, comprising Guild, APICS, NACS and HETAS was informed by HETAS that they intended to run a new direct route to becoming a qualified chimney sweep.

    Regional meetings

    We hope to find a member to co-ordinate these for the coming year. As well as discussing chimney sweep issues, suppliers may be invited to give information about new products, services etc.

    SIA have sent through a statement, about independent stove accreditation labelling scheme, including eco design and DEFRA exemption.

    Ed Wilson- will this be retroactive to grade the older models? LW- It looks like it will apply to current and future models.

    Darren Cooke- have SIA changed their stance about including chimney sweeps? LW this is not known.

    Industry governance and trade status

    The Guild been involved in serious negotiations and bridge building across the sweeping industry. All industries have a body to speak for it, we finally have that voice. The Federation of British Chimney Sweeps was officially launched this week. The Federation is an industry facing organization, providing the link between government and industry bodies and the sweep associations, The Federation comprises the 5 main chimney sweeping trade associations and represents 80% of registered chimney sweeps in the UK. In the few days since launching, several official bodies have been in touch indicating they look forward to dealing with the Federation the future. CSA elected not to be part of the Federation. There will be a website, rules will be put in place so that it is transparent as possible. It is a great opportunity to build something from scratch.

    ISO 9001

    We have made improvements to our administration systems but a lot has been happening this year and we have not begun a move to ISO 9001 as yet.

    LW thanked all the members of the board for their work through the year and a well organised event and show.

    He thanks the training team and said the onsite trainers contribution was invaluable. Thanks to James Holbrook, Thomas Wiggins, Paul Clemence, Andrew Lovick and Steven Howard for their contributions to the Sweep Stuff magazine.

    Vote for honorary members

    Bill Wight – Yes

    Les Mitchell – Yes

    Sascha Meding – Yes

    Vote for new Guild director

    Mick Waumsley (MW) asked to make a speech to the meeting.

    LW declined, saying this was not on the agenda and was not appropriate immediately prior to a vote.

    MW asked the room to allow him to make speech.

    LW said that this is a company meeting with legally binding protocols and that Mr Waumsley may not make such a request of the meeting. It is not the process.

    MW raised the issue of a campaign email sent by his election opponent. LW replied that all candidates are at liberty to send out information prior to the meeting. LW  stated that if anyone feels there has been irregular actions, they should contest it later.

    MW stated he doesn’t feel that he has had an opportunity to say his piece.

    LW there has been over a month and we have observed all legal processes.

    LW explained the vote. Two candidates were voted upon for the position of Guild Director – Mick Waumsley and Gavin Cater.

    Non-members present were identified and not included in voting procedure: They were:

    Gail Stevens

    Carolyn Young

    Tim Walker

    Geoff Dunne

    Jez Brook

    Emma Williams-Smith

    John Stone and Dave Woofindin counting show of hands from right side of the room, left side seated those who had already voted by post.

    Mick Waumsley 18 hands

    Gavin Cater 29 hands

    Sascha Meding added on the result from the postal vote counted that morning by three board members.

    Mick Waumsley 69 votes

    Gavin Cator 90 votes

    Lawson- the legal procedure for these elections is available if anyone wishes to see it.

    The postal vote for Special Resolutions for expanding the potential scope of the Guild activities and to adopt a procedure of candidate nomination and postal voting. Result – resolution not passed.

    LW added that Special Resolutions can be voted on by post, or in the meeting but legally not both.

    The election and voting Special Resolution was intended to increase transparency and this is intended to give more power to members.

    Any other business

    Hamilton Jones asked about stove labelling.

    LW- this will be part of the SIA labelling.

    Ralph While-Paddon asked about HETAS meeting and HETAS chimney sweeping assessments.

    LW- HETAS have decided to extend their ‘Approved Sweep’ scheme requirements. Candidates now do not need to be a member of one of the sweep associations. They require get a H00 certificate and to undertake an assessment, pay a fee. They then go on HETAS list as an approved chimney sweep.

    MW said he was an assessor for HETAS and explained the process – four sweeps are fully watched, documented and assessed, the candidate is then referred if necessary for further training if required or more equipment if it is an equipment issue. Skills in power sweeping have to be proved with a proof of training day.

    Darren Cooke- Re. GDPR where do we give permission for the Guild to share our information?

    LW – Member’s information is published publicly on the findachimneysweep website unless there is a request not to.The Guild complies with all its GDPR obligations.

    MW – suggests that meembers contact the Guild if they do not wish to pass on information.

    LW- members information is already public on the website and if someone wants your details anyone can look them up.

    Julian Raffe – Why isn’t Sweepsafe a member of the Federation?

    LW – They have shown no interest in the core aims of the Federation and are not in communication with any of the Federation members.

    MW- I would like to say thank you to all those who voted, Gavin is an excellent choice.

    LW- welcome to our newest member Bruce Ballagher (in the room).

    LW thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting .

    End of meeting 5.06pm

    AGM Attendees 2020


    Mr Bunting
    MrAlan StanleyHutchinson


      What our members say…

      Richard Lawson

      “I found the course to be very knowledgeable. Being a Guild sweep has given me greater confidence when going to customer’s homes and this has enabled me to become a HETAS approved chimney sweep.”

      Richard Lawson (Hexham Chimney Sweeps)
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