Firstly I must pay tribute to Arthur Bloxham, who has been our president for many years and was a great supporter of our club; he will be sadly missed.
I now have the pleasure to welcome our new President, Ivor Clarke a member for over 30 years.
My second year, as captain culminated in a very difficult AGM which included having to deal with all the changes being proposed by the EBU. That AGM had been preceded the week before with a very good dinner at the Brocton Village hall, which was repeated again successfully last night. Another incident immediately followed the AGM last year. Enquiries were initiated, to change the venue for the afternoon sessions, which I have to say troubled me greatly. For members to even consider splitting the club was very disappointing, but further to not inform the committee, was for me and members of the committee disrespectful in the least. Had such a division taken place I would not be standing here today in front of you and I doubt very much if Stafford Bridge club would have survived for much longer. So for all those who have stood by the club and supported its continued growth and prosperity I can only say a truly heartfelt “thank you”.
At the last AGM, the club members voted to remain affiliated to the EBU with the caveat that I write to the EBU expressing the club’s grave concerns regarding the Pay-2-Play element. I did write and then on 7th October 2009 at the EBU shareholders’ meeting, the decision to implement the Pay-2-Play scheme was finally ratified. Thus the new EBU Pay-2-Play scheme commenced on 1st April and Ann has achieved wonders with the installation of the new database and ensuring that all our members (who will now be members of the EBU) have their personal data accurately recorded or not as their request may be. All club members will now become members of the EBU. Also, as agreed at the previous AGM, for this current year the club will not be implementing any additional charges for table money. The annual subscription also remains at £10.00.
Your committee during this year has achieved quite a few positive changes. A working party cleared out the office, decorated the kitchen, installed new tables in the kitchen as well as two comfortable chairs. Pat obtained samples of possible new club chairs since we still have concerns regarding the current ones but the members voted to retain the ones we still use. Mike also arranged for a new, and most useful, cupboard to be constructed in the entrance corridor. So we have not been idle and we still have substantial funds to support the club. I will leave the details of the club’s finances to our treasurer, Ann.
My thanks to those who have served our club. Firstly, our late President Arthur, who played regularly on Wednesday afternoons, enjoyed playing in the Shelley and he attended most of our committee meetings. Then, Ivor as my vice captain for this year I thank you for all your support. Pauline as secretary is always around chivying me to ensure things get done. She does a great job in preparing the minutes of meetings etc. and she has also been very supportive of the Friday evening sessions. Mike and Pam have managed the club competitions and Mike has also been very helpful with all the work we have achieved within the club and of course with the directing duties. Also I must thank the support from Pat, Ivor and Mike for their great help with duplimating the boards. Ann, took on the role of our new treasurer for this year and she has been very successful, and has agreed to continue as the club’s webmaster. I must also record our thanks to Cliff for his work as the club’s auditor and I do sincerely hope that he will continue to provide this service.
Our club continues to provide a “stand-by” service for Tuesday evenings which has been most helpful to those arriving without a partner and certainly does encourage newcomers; so my thanks to all those who support this namely Ann, Peter, Ivor, Arthur and Derek. With the sad death of Arthur we now do need a volunteer for the 4th Tuesday stand-by. Particular thanks must go to Bryan for all his work with the running of Monday and Wednesday afternoons and for Sheila for her diligent attention to the overall condition of the club and Doug Simmonds for all his hard work with the teaching sessions. These started on a Friday evening in October and then with numbers and demand increasing Doug ran another session on a Tuesday afternoon.
Our club dinner last night was again a great success with 52 members and their guests present and for the second year was held at Brocton Village Hall.
Very sadly four other members of our club died during the year, Dennis Greenwood, Dorothy Jamieson, Peter Lowe and Patsy Palm.
Tony Aspras, Linda Laughlin, and Sheila Palmer have all made good recoveries from their illnesses this year.
Then, in September we also had two special birthdays: Barbara Cooke reached the wonderful age of 90 and Bryan Purslow just a mere ten years behind. We celebrated with a small party on Wednesday afternoon 7th October. I was privileged to interview Barbara and persuaded the EBU to publish a short article and photograph of her in the EBU Bridge magazine.
Christmas parties: We enjoy these each year and the parties on Wednesday afternoon, Friday evening and Tuesday evening have all been successful.
Competitions: I will finish with a few words about the club competitions. It has already been agreed that in future, in the event of a tie for first place, a shared award will be made and split ties will not be resolved to give a single winner. Then we intend to discuss with the new committee some small changes to some of our competitions.
- The Restricted Pairs Trophy is to be renamed the Arthur Bloxham trophy. I discussed this with Joy (Arthur’s wife) and she was delighted.
- The Shelley handicap teams: This year saw a change in format. It was decided to play the session as multiple teams (to avoid long head to head matches) and overall this format has been successful. Most teams indicated that they would compete next year but perhaps the former format is marginally preferable.
- Summer Cup: Only a few pairs in fact qualified for the event over the summer of 2009 and for this year Mike proposes to run a short session of teams over the three months June, July and August.
- The President’s Cup: It was decided to continue with the event in honour of Arthur. My thanks are due to all who made the afternoon so enjoyable and especially to Leila, Olive and the other ladies who provided the excellent refreshments. I’m sure that our new President will wish to continue this competition.
- Bryan Baker: A new revised format will be played as a handicap pairs single session on Sunday 6th June.
- Friendly vs Stone: This is an annual event played at alternate venues the return match is scheduled at Stafford on Friday 4th June.
- Dash: This handicap pairs event held between September and March has, this year, been difficult to accurately score and a new format is to be devised for next year.
- Bearn - Qualification for this event will be revised for next year.
All other club competitions will remain in their current format.
Thank you for your attention, patience and cooperation.
Captain 16th May 2010