Chairman’s Message

As we find ourselves in week six of lockdown, I have been reflecting on how much our Club means to my family and me. The recent fine weather has both made the passing of lockdown easier but has also sharpened the sense of loss about not having been able to enjoy our Club. I comfort myself by knowing that this is only a transient phase and will only be passing inconvenience in the lifelong choice we made on becoming Members. One joins Roehampton Club not for transactional moments of exercise but because of all it has to offer, whether or not we choose to take full advantage of it all.

It is also a Club with a long and distinguished history which Steve, our Archivist, keeps unearthing. Next year will mark the 120th anniversary of the Club’s founding. It has survived all the bumps of history on the way: two Worlds Wars, Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, the 2008/9 financial crash and I have no doubt it will survive this pandemic. It will do so because, as we know, Members as Club owners are loyal, value their Club membership and are committed for the long term. We are immensely grateful to earlier generations of Members who steered the Club through previous storms, and I have every confidence that we will be able to pass the Club on to future generations as a strong and thriving community. In this connection, the Board is very grateful to all those Members who pay by quarterly direct debit for having continued to do so.

Members have been helping each other in many ways. Some have run classes or facilitated activities or contacted our more vulnerable Members to support them and I have no doubt there are other examples which demonstrate the ties that bind us. The staff have also been active in designing classes, tuition and activities for us to enjoy online and we are all extremely grateful to them.

The Government has extended the lockdown up to 7th May, possibly longer and announced the extension of the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) until the end of June. Against that background, the Board, at its April meeting, has agreed to extend to the end of June the assurance previously given to the staff that they would be paid in full. Casual and self-employed staff have also been given similar assurances regarding the schemes that apply to them. The Board thanks all Members who have written in to support this action.

The Club is taking full advantage of the JRS. It means that about 75% of our staff are furloughed. In addition to senior management, those that are not furloughed are considered essential for dealing with membership matters, finance, grounds and gardens work, essential maintenance and security, all in compliance with regulations.

The Board also approved the application to our bank for a business interruption loan scheme. This Government initiative means that we can apply for an interest free loan for 12 months while continuing to have the support of our bankers and to enjoy our normal facilities. This is important because the Club does not and never has had any reserves. The Board and the management team will continue to manage our affairs prudently to maximise cash and to ensure that we can reopen from a position of strength. Management is looking at various scenarios of reopening depending on the shape and timing of measures announced by the Government. Given indications that the hospitality industry may be the last to return to work it may be some weeks before we are able to reopen the Club in part or sadly some months before we are able to open the Clubhouse in full.

As mentioned before, the Board will look, in due course, at what might be done to reflect the fact that Members have not been able to use their Club for the length of the closure. Given the uncertainties, that time is not now, and we believe that the appropriate time will be in September when we carefully consider the high-level budget for 2021 and fix the amount of the subscriptions for that year.

Work continues to finalise the 2019 Annual Report and Accounts. We are in the final phase of discussions with the Auditors. Once that is complete, the report and accounts will be made available online. As already announced, we have had to postpone the AGM until July and we will publish arrangements for that in due course.

To date we have communicated with Members online by emails and via the Recorder. It seemed to me that Members might welcome the chance to discuss matters of interest to them with the CEO and myself by Zoom. Arrangements for this to happen in May will be announced shortly.

Lastly, I am pleased to report that Wandsworth Council has approved our planning application for two new Padel Tennis Courts. We have a three-year window to start construction so we will consider, in due course, when best to start these works for the whole family to enjoy.

Meanwhile, I wish you all continuing good health.

Alan Jenkins | Chairman |