Chairman's Report - June 2019
Time flies ! It's six months now 'in the job' as Chairman of your Management Committee (MC) in what has been an extremely busy period with lots of progress on which to update you.
In my last report, we promised to conduct a survey of members on where they would like to see the club in 10 years' time. Many thanks to Alan Thomas who administered this for us and compiled the results and thanks to all of the 92 of you who took the time to respond. This is a good representative sample from the membership and gives the MC a great insight into where we are and what should be our focus for the future. I attach the results of the survey, including the full unedited comments received. From this we have taken the following key points:-
Maintain the ethos of the club whilst continuously improving...... This came in at #1 in the survey and the MC fully agree that this should be our priority. We believe that our ethos is, and should continue to be, that we are are a small, welcoming, friendly, youth and family oriented club with great facilities. We aim to maintain a healthy balance between team and social play with strong coaching available to all. To continue to rely on enthusiastic volunteers to run and maintain the club to help control costs and to keep membership subscriptions low. We are also committed to manage sound finances to cover the cost of improvements and to secure the long-term future of the club in the best interests of all members. We strongly believe that having an active and varied social programme is a valuable complement to this. So what improvements can we make ? Firstly, it is very pleasing to hear from many of you who responded (see attachment) that the club is felt to be in good shape and well run. Thank you for these kind words, it keeps your MC motivated to know that you think that we are doing a good job. The second highest priority in the survey was:-
To Attract New Members...... Unfortunately we have seen membership numbers decline from around 550 to just under 400 in the last 5 years. This is a major threat to our club. Sandy Chidwick asks non-renewing members their reasons. Thankfully it is not 'dissatisfaction with the club' that is stated, but more usually that these people 'just do not use it'. Many other clubs, tennis, bowls, golf, etc. face the same issue and we can learn from them how to turn this around. We recognise that we must be more proactive in marketing and recruitment as it is clear that otherwise we will continue to see this steady decline.Our ageing demographic will exacerbate this and so we hope to attract more youngsters and families to address this. Accordingly, we have updated our publicity brochure and have arranged for 9000 of these leaflets to be delivered to every home in the local area by mid June. Thanks to Paul Duckworth and Charlie Neilson for helping to organise this. In the past what we have found to be most effective is personal contact. So please do try to persuade your family, friends and neighbours to join our great club. Plenty of spare leaflets are available, please pick a few up and help us to recruit. New members are key if we wish to maintain and improve our facilities and keep membership fees low. Also, of course, we must work hard to retain existing members.
Playing Surfaces...... Quite a few respondents suggest that we consider clay courts. We agree the need for softer surfaces to protect our joints but also have concerns over the high maintenance that comes with clay. Technology in this area is constantly evolving, so Kim Martin, Carole Bacon and the Tennis Committee have agreed to investigate all options available and to make a recommendation later this year.
Additional Courts...... Apart from some peak times during the annual tournament, court availability has not been a major issue. This could change if we are successful in attracting many new members. We have noted the comments on not 'squeezing in' an additional court into the existing grounds. When the survey was sent out, that was (correctly) seen as the only way to accommodate. Since then, we have received a very generous offer from Richard Ashness to donate a parcel of land that he owns. It lies the other side of the Church Landway directly opposite Court 5 and could easily accommodate one or two additional courts. At this early stage we are planning to investigate the legal costs of the transfer and ongoing maintenance.
Clubhouse........ Not much commment on this in the survey, unsurprising perhaps as despite being over 50 years old, due to continued maintenance it remains in fair condition, is fit for purpose and the envy of many visiting clubs. The last condition survey 5 years ago estimated its life to be 15-20 years and the replacement cost is around £300,000. For many years we have been putting money aside to allow for this, but we are now investigating whether there is another viable option. That would be to increase the annual maintenance budget to enhance and extend its life. For example, replacing the roof and windows and upgrading the kitchen, bar and toilet/shower facilities over the next 10 years. This would also avoid the serious disruption that would be involved with full replacement.
In summary, we will work on the above key points and evaluate what we see as the best way forward. We aim to bring this back at the November AGM. There are also some useful smaller ideas for improvement from the survey comments that we will also consider in Committee.
2019 1st Half Review.
Tennis...... Team-wise, we entered 5 Ladies', 4 Ladies' Vets, 2 Ladies' over 60s, 3 Men's, 3 Men's Vets, 2 Men's over 60s, 1 Men's over 70s and 3 Mixed in the winter leagues. Ladies' 1 won their section but lost the divisional final, Mens' 1 won their section and the divisional final and Mens' 2 won their section but lost the divisional final. Mens' & Ladies' team practice nights have had problems from January to March, with a number of members being unable to play, if you have any suggestions to alter/improve these sessions please contact Kim Martin. The tournaments are progressing well and there are many informal friendship groups that organise their own social tennis rotas. Club social sessions this summer are underway with Wednesday and Sunday social play going well, thanks to Neil and Anne Buscombe. We have a regular group of players of varying standards and welcome anyone else who would like to join in. A buffet lunch is available each week and the bar is open. Hopefully the improved weather will encourage more members to get out on court. Coaching from our partners MTA (Maidstone Tennis Academy) continues to encourage youngsters into the game and improve the playing standard of all who partcipate.
Social...... 2019 is a big year for us as we celebrate 40 years since the club was founded. The MC has put in a huge amount of work to organise a fantastic free event on 8th June that we think will work for all members, family and friends. I thank them all on your behalf. Janet Perrett has managed to track down and invite Founder Members who are no longer current playing members and invited them to join us for the celebration. We will raise a toast to all Founder Members on the day. Hopefully the weather will be fair, so fingers crossed and hope to see you all there. There is also the dinner dance at Bearsted Golf Club on 5th July in aid of the Chairman's Charity, MNDA (Motor Neurone Disease Association) , thanks to my wife, Sheila for organising this. Please come along with your friends and family if at all possible for a great night out.
Sadly, the Social Committee has resigned this year. Heartfelt thanks for the sterling contribution that they have all made to the club over the years. They have organised some wonderful events and provided great catering support and this has been very much appreciated. The social side is a vital element of our club's success and ethos and we will ensure that we will always have a varied programme of events. The very successful Bridge Club continues. We aim to have a new team in place by the end of the year. Volunteers needed, please get in touch if you can help.
I hope that you have found this of interest and are encouraged by our vision and plans. I am grateful to be working with an excellent, supportive and committed MC. We are all genuinely working hard in what we believe is in the best interest of all members and to secure the next 10 (or even 40 !) years.
David Burton, Chairman
Chairman's Report - Febraury 2019
It's that time of year again for membership renewal. Your committee each year struggles with how to balance the conflicting objectives of keeping subscriptions affordable and competitive and securing the long term financial future of the club. Our Ten Year Business Plan has identified a potential problem in that timescale.
Our club house is now over sixty years old and we must plan to be able to afford to replace it around 2030. Our treasurer's initial research suggests that the cost will be in the region of £300,000 and to provide for this we have a strategy of increasing membership, applying for grants or loans and a reasonable rate of increased subscriptions. We have looked at what we offer in relation to other clubs in the area and we believe that we are highly competitive, offering excellent facilities and value for money. Our preference is to raise funds through increased membership numbers and we are currently working hard on a comprehensive marketing and recruitment campaign, but of course the outcome is uncertain and will take time to bear fruit.
Meanwhile we need to maintain our courts to the the highest standard and our costs continue to increase. For example our electricity supply contract comes to an end this year and initial enquiries could mean we could face up to a 50% increase, but our treasurer is trying to reduce this. We have also planned to spend £90,000 to repaint/resurface and rebuild our courts by 2024.
In that context, we have looked for the fairest way to deal with subs in order to achieve our goals. In doing so we have discovered an anomaly in the eligibility for family membership. The 2018 playing rules state:-
A Playing Membership for husband and wife, partnerships and single parents and as many of their children under the age of 18* years, or those in full-time attendance at a recognised educational establishment up to the age of 25* years, as they wish to include. Those persons over the age of 18* years and no longer in full-time education must take up Senior Membership in their own right. * Age on 1st March of the membership year.
Explanatory Note:- Husband and Wife and partnerships without eligible children are considered to be two seniors. The spirit of the definition is to encourage families to join with their children. The current package offers the two seniors in the partnership to join at a discount to the two seniors' rate and effectively, any number of their children 'go free', (until those children are no longer eligible and they then they pay the seniors' rate).
In the past, some couples may have benefited by paying the family rate, but the committee has decided that from this year, such an adult pair (ie without eligible children) must join as seniors in their own right. The good news is that we have agreed to freeze the price of senior, junior and social membership subs this year. If you are affected by this, we hope that you understand the reasoning and will renew at the seniors' rate, which is still very competitive, and continue to enjoy the benefits of our great club.
Please feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss this decision.
David Burton, Chairman
Chairman's Report - Febraury 2018
There is a lot of work that gets done at the club and I would like to take this opportunity to thank those on the committees and everyone else who helps in the running of the club. There are too many to mention individually, but a special thanks to Áine who has been our membership secretary for a number of years: a post that has been taken over by Sandy who has been working hard to make sure your membership renewal goes smoothly.
Although much of our work goes unnoticed, I hope you like the improvements in the grounds such as the tree maintenance, which has reduced the problem with leaves, and the new shrub bed by the gate. The courts have been professionally cleaned and treated recently to make them less slippery and to improve your playing experience. We are currently considering the installation of a practice wall and believe this substantial investment will be popular with members, particularly the younger ones who we wish to encourage.
I would like to welcome new members who have joined in the last year. Our club benefits greatly from having new playing and social members and I would like to invite them to contact me personally to share their experience, so we can work to make their membership more enjoyable.
We have a busy tennis year ahead with a full programme of team matches and of course our annual club championship. Also, for this year only, we are hosting the Maidstone Open Championship on Sunday 4th March. The Social Committee have organised Ten Pin Bowling for April and a Barn Dance in September. Details of these are on our website along with other events.
Finally, we now have Wi-Fi in the clubhouse, which is free to members.
Enjoy your tennis, and I look forward to seeing you on court.
Ron Taylor, Chairman
Club Captain's Report - Febraury 2018
Celia Pascoe has stepped down from her role as Ladies' Captain. Celia took over this role from Pam Cooper several years ago now and we would like to thank her for all the time and effort she has put in with the Ladies teams, Ladies nights in the winter, including the coaching by MTA and her work on the tennis committee.
Carole Bacon has agreed to take over as Ladies Captain.
Viv Pearson has agreed to join the tennis committee to co-ordinate coaching at the club, so that Carole Bacon can take over her new role.
Pam Thomas has decided to step down from being Mixed Captain after many years and we would like to thank her for all her time and effort. Pam Thomas has agreed to continue to be secretary of the tennis committee.
Kim Martin, Club Captain
Coaching Report - March 2017
The junior squads have been progressing well since January, despite some unwelcome weather. The children enjoy their lessons with Adrian, Carl and Roberto and are making steady progress. The final squad session for this term will be the week beginning Monday 27th March.
The Ladies’ Thursday night coaching has been also been hit by the weather this term but it has still proved a popular addition to the schedule. If any ladies would like to have squad coaching after Easter on a Thursday, please speak to Adrian or Tracy who will try to organise something for you.
The Rusty Rackets course has seen a few new members join. If you are a new member who hasn’t played for a while, this is the ideal course for you. Carl runs this on a Monday from 1.30 – 2.30.
Wednesday Mixed Morning has seen a committed group of players improve their tennis skills and tactics over time. This 2 hour session runs from 10am – 12pm every Wednesday at a cost of just £6.50. It is great for your fitness as well as your tennis; just turn up and play.
We all appreciate that most adults would prefer coaching at the weekends or in the evenings. MTA are actively recruiting a coach, who meets their high standards, in order to be able to give more opportunity for adult coaching at Bearsted. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact Tracy or Adrian to discuss your coaching needs.
Carole Bacon, Coaching Co-ordinator
Maintenance Report - March 2017
It seems a long time ago now, but again, many thanks to all who gave their valuable time at the last maintenance morning in September to complete so many useful tasks, and in particular to my trusty deputy Mervyn for leading the charge whilst I was away. There was a good turnout enabling the usual routine of court sweeping and wire tensioning/repair, gloss coating the window sills and new clubhouse door, fixing the blinds in the clubhouse and of course, much gardening ahead of the winter. Thanks to Susan Russell for lunches on the day.
We had plans to spray some courts with mosskiller. We had the chemicals and equipment at the ready but unfortunately it must not be applied if rain is expected within 48h. It was forecast and it did indeed rain, so apologies for the increasing moss that you may have noticed but we plan to attack this at the March maintenance morning.... weather permitting.
Thanks to Keith Mullner for felling and removing a dead tree. Tantons have now completed a major tree thinning task, after complaints from our allotment neighbours and excessive leaf clearing task and stray leaves on court. Jo Mullner and Pat Leroy have kindly agreed to look into what (smaller, ornamental, flowering) trees that we may wish to plant in some of the gaps in the Autumn.
Acknowledgement also to our new Vice Chairman, Ron Taylor, who applies his invaluable skills on plumbing and electrical. We have working ladies toilet flush, clubhouse heaters and outside lighting all thanks to Ron.
Richard Laurent kindly volunteered to tow a massive trailerfull of empty bottles to Tesco recycling point between Christmas and New Year. With the help of Mervyn and myself and 'fast hands' we managed to get them all deposited before being challenged for dumping on an industrial scale.... We should really increase the frequency of this to make the task more manageable. If there is anyone else out there with a towbar on their car that can spare a couple of hours every 3 months to spread the load, please come forward !!
I think that one of the excellent aspects in the ethos of our club is just how much so many people are prepared (and happy !) to help out in different areas of maintenance. Without their / your continued support my job would be impossible and the condition of the club and/or the clubs finances would suffer. Great Teamwork !!
David Burton, Maintenance Member