The club AGM took place on Wednesday evening, once again hosted by chairman Steve Jones who was celebrating a sixth year in term at the helm. With no other candidates coming forward he was voted in once more to the delight of everyone in the room. Steve does a superb job in his role and the club would be in a poorer state if not for his tremendous leadership. He spoke about the year at the club and thankfully it has been once more a huge success with plenty of positivity. With no major works, costs have been kept to a minimum and the membership continues to grow, now exceeding 300.
Treasurer Mike Abel completed his first year reporting how healthy the club accounts are at present. Of course much of the funds would be needed if flooding was to hit the club as we are self-insured so a decent pot in case of emergency has been secured. Prudent spending has ensured funds remain strong whilst social events and Winter League have brought in some welcome income streams.
Match secretary Jill Abel spoke about a succesful season for the teams with four title wins and a good number of members experiencing team league tennis. The club continues to thrive in League tennis and with a strong membership we offer plenty of action across many standards.
With head coach Angela Crossley on maternity, Harry Full kindly stepped in to report on the coaching. A key feature was the number of members taking coaching both individually and in the various groups that are offered. The vast majority of players taking up coaching then joining the club is testament to the great work the coaching team does and Steve Plant and Ollie Newsome are the latest additions to complement a very strong and impressive coaching squad.
Welfare Officer Jo Coverdale has played an influential role is helping the club gain status in welfare and health and safety areas and she undertook a course and compiled reports and plenty of paperwork to satisfy the LTA, often going beyond the call of duty and exceeding what the majority of clubs provide.
A motion brought by Mike Triffitt to introduce a third mixed team into next summer’s York league was keenly debated with Harry Full explaining and outlining how the pair hoped the team would develop. Essentially recruiting from social tennis, new members, junior members and those looking to branch into competitive tennis, Harry explained how many of the new members he was coaching would love the opportunity such a team could provide. The vote was unanimous in accepting this additional team and Jill Abel will now enter at the York AGM.
Secretary Mike Butterworth diligently minuted the evenings events and once again many thanks for his efforts alongside all those who offer their time on the committee who all decided to continue in those roles.
The night concluded with cheese and wine courtesy of Jill Abel and Rachel Butterworth whilst Bradley Triffitt certainly enjoyed the bread and crisps!
This report will review the year ended September 2019 and is my sixth Chairman’s report to the members.
As forecast last year, the club was able to catch its breath and not have the distraction of major project activity for the first time in four years. This is not to say that much activity has been undertaken on the club’s behalf. The governance requirements of the LTA, as discussed last year, has ensured that your Committee has been kept busy.
Against the backdrop of keeping on top of issues which arose during the year past, we set ourselves the following priorities this time last year:
· complete the professional investigation of the building structure and act on recommendations.
· maintain and improve membership numbers by improving the existing membership experience and attracting new members from establishing deeper local roots.
In terms of the first point, we have been aware of external and internal cracks in our building infrastructure and last year the club engaged a third-party engineering consultant to assess the risk and any remedial activity that the club would be advised to take. The settlement strips have been required to remain ‘in situ’ to quantify the building’s movement. This activity has just reached a conclusion, and we now have an objective report for the Committee to review and consider. Our thanks go to Mike Abel who has informed and co-ordinated our approach to this issue.
Opportunistically, in the meantime, we have taken advantage of an offer from Caddicks to provide some painting resource to freshen up parts of our external building ahead of these further changes, which we have been grateful for.
In addressing the second priority, during the year, the club has built on established programmes and made fresh attempts in a variety of areas to improve the existing membership experience. The competition for members free social time to join and use the club is fierce, not only from other tennis clubs, but also from other activities and media. The Committee regularly reviews the rate of membership uptake, and also those who choose not to re-join, when addressing this priority. Against this backdrop, during the year, the club has progressed:
· beginning of month fun competitive social sessions
· increased allocation of coaching support for social sessions within the coaching budget
· providing external, community-based coaching programmes, and Open Days introducing new members to the tennis club
· Made flexible Winter membership packages available ‘on-line’.
· Progressed a facilities ‘snagging’ and ‘repair’ list.
· Opened the Clubhouse to use by wider, non-tennis groups in the community
· Opened our facilities to a local business
· Delivered successful Wine Tasting and Quiz events with a Christmas Dinner Dance to follow.
My thanks go to Mike Triffitt, Helen Robinson, Roger Fawcus, Tim and Jo Coverdale, Declan Grogan, Peter Johnston, and Angela and her team, and the many others who have given discretionary effort, for their contributions this year to making things happen to enhance Club life.
I can report that to the 31st of March 2019, the club’s membership had increased to 308 compared to 284 members plus 4 life members last year. This figure is also likely to increase modestly this year. Thanks to Doug Crawford ( and others ) who have wrestled and continue to educate themselves on the use of the ClubSpark online membership portal.
This increase in the club’s total membership numbers has contributed to a rise in the club’s income which Mike Abel will report on shortly in the Treasurers Report. This is important as the Club continues to face financial challenges and risks.
The Treasurer will outline the club’s current resources and some of the planned costed activity in the year ahead shortly. As previously reported, it is worth reminding members that the club is now required to self-insure against future flooding risk and retain enough funds to maintain the current facilities as a sinking fund to ensure the guardianship of the club’s resources. The Committee is not complacent about prudently preparing for these costed risks, and as a result, we do not foresee major capital investment over the coming year. The club is currently reviewing costed options to modestly increase/improve Car Park signage in collaboration with Caddicks, in addition to minor Court and Clubhouse improvements.
Out of the view of most members, significant efforts are required to keep the club compliant and progressing within best practice and the sport’s governance frameworks. As introduced at last year’s AGM, Jo Coverdale, ably supported by Angela, has researched, created and communicated Safeguarding and Diversity policies for the Club. This onerous task culminated in an early third-party audit from a consultant engaged by the LTA and the results have reflected very well on the club as we seek to transparently minimise risk and maximise the enjoyment of the members of our club. Your club’s committee have all voluntarily had positive DBS checks as a statement of support for taking this issue seriously.
Following his election last year to Club Secretary, Mike Butterworth has commenced an exercise in revisiting the club’s rules (or Constitution) to reflect how the club operates currently. This is an exercise in bringing the document up to date, rather making substantive changes, and we will be using external legal guidance in this task. In parallel, the club is formalising the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with the allotment users in an agreed fashion, such that all parties are clear on rights and obligations and again there are no substantive amendments envisioned. Mike will be able to communicate with members over the coming year on the conclusion of this activity.
The successful Club Tournament and Winter League does not organise itself, and once again the club has benefited from the tenacity and enthusiasm of Mike Triffitt, who has delivered these events to the now ‘normal’ high standard. Thanks, Mike, for persevering with Court capacity, non-contactable members and the elements. There is a clear financial benefit to the club, and a softer, reputational upside as these well organised events are established dates in the playing calendar inside and outside of the club.
Another aspect of club life, where the behind the scenes activity is not always readily visible to members is the internal and external communications necessary to have teams accepted into the various leagues, and additionally supporting a mechanism for the club to fulfil multi Mixed, Ladies and Men’s teams being on court, throughout the summer. Our membership is fortunate that Match Secretary Jill Abel professionally represents the club’s best interest to the Leagues, and sensitively and consistently addresses any internal ‘bumps in the road’ in a fair-minded way. As previously stated, Jill’s engagement is heavily influenced by the activity of the team’s captains. The club’s thanks once again go to those members who act as captains throughout the season, it is appreciated.
After operating without a Treasurer, the previous year, Mike Abel’s election has been a great addition to the Committee. Helen Robinson, who has done a fantastic job in holding the club’s finances together in the interim, has continued to offer Mike support over the year, and once again, the club is able to present its members tonight an audited set of accounts for the prior year. This is a key role in the running of the club, and our thanks go to the efforts that Mike Abel has invested in responsibly discharging this task. Thanks once again also to Mark Vines for his oversight in preparing the accounts for the auditor.
As Chairman, my assessment is that the club has taken a needed breath over the last year from major projects, which we hope we can forecast into the year ahead (elements willing). As your committee, over the coming year we will prioritise the following activities:
· complete the professional investigation of the building structure and act on recommendations.
· maintain and improve membership numbers by improving the existing membership experience.
· Update current club governance document.
I would like to end by thanking your Committee members for their hard work over the last year on the club’s behalf. We are very fortunate as a club that we have capable, volunteer individuals committed to maintaining and improving our tennis facilities on our behalf. I would like to encourage any members who feel energised to contribute to any facet of club life to have a chat with an existing Committee member after the meeting.