Chairman’s Message

The talent in our Club continues to impress me. I hope Members took the opportunity to view this year’s outstanding Art Exhibition. This year there was a People’s Choice vote for the favourite painting. Sian Goddard’s article later in this issue gives details of the top ten. Many congratulations to Cristina Fowler who came top and her painting is displayed in the Club Café until Christmas.

Talent in a different direction can be enjoyed in the puzzles section of The Times from next Friday where fellow Member, Chris Bray, will be writing a regular column about backgammon. Chris already runs the backgammon section for us which enjoys increasing popularity and success. Perhaps his column will inspire many others to join!

Accommodating all our sections in the Clubhouse leads me to the competition held this week to appoint an architect to help us design a redeveloped clubhouse fit for a club of our standing reconciling the different wishes and needs of our varied membership. The Board last night accepted the recommendation of the Project Development Committee (PDC) to appoint ADP Architects who were clear winners from the three bidding firms. The Board is very grateful to the PDC panel for their time and commitment. The panel consisted of four board directors and two Members, Laurence Johnstone, a retired chartered surveyor and Richard Addison, a practising architect.

The Board also approved the Club’s budget for 2020. As for the current year, no major capital expenditure is planned. Subject to planning approval being granted, it is intended to provide two Padel tennis courts on the site of the mini tennis courts near the creche. It is hoped to have these in use by June 2020.

As a result of no planned major capital expenditure this year and next, I can report that the budgeted level of debt by the end of 2020 is due to be £3.46m which will be down from £4.4m at the close of 2018 and well within the ratio of four times free cash flow recommended by the Finance Committee for many years.

I know that some Members have expressed concern about the size of the membership. The Board has reaffirmed its commitment not to increase the current figure and the number of resignations currently notified is running well below historic levels. The corollary of this is that fewer than normal offers of membership are being made, which contributes to a lengthening waiting list and a lower level of entrance fees and new subscription income. The Board is determined to ensure that the facilities and services the Club now offers shall be capable of being enjoyed by Members of all ages without undue pressure on them and to the same high standard we presently experience.

I was touched to see Charles James’s mission to honour his father, a former Member, by rowing across the Atlantic next year as the culmination of four strenuous challenges. Please read his story and the very worthwhile charities he is raising funds for on page eight.

Lastly please look out for the Christmas Feast of Cabaret on Thursday 5th December at 7pm. It features Charlotte Page, Anna Boucher and the Ladies Club Choir. Last year’s event was superb, so a night not be missed – book at Reception or give them a call on 020 8480 4200.

Best wishes,