It doesn’t seem like almost a year since I stood here asking for your support in making me Chairman of our Club for the second time. Hopefully on the whole you still feel I am doing a reasonable job! My first task at this meeting is again a sad one. 2017 started with the sudden death of our long time member, receptionist and lovely friend, Elaine Gilbert. Elaine was a real character whose friendly face and memorable voice and laughter is still missed by all of us who knew her. Could I just ask for a few seconds silence to remember this friend of the Weald and any others that I may have inadvertently omitted.
The other sad note is that in accordance with the Club rules we are saying goodbye to Sally Sharp as our President after her five years of service. Sally has been a stalwart of this club for a very long time in so many roles, coach, receptionist, player, Chairman and President and it is difficult to do justice to the thanks Sally deserves. Sally still does the court bookings and hopefully long may she do so. Sally, thank you for all you have done in the past for the Weald and are continuing to do. As a very small gesture of thanks please accept these gifts on behalf of the club. We are also saying farewell and thank you to two of our Vice Presidents, Rupert Ayton and Edward Tyson who also have served five years. I am hoping to welcome later on this evening Allan Norburn as our new President and John Gilbert, Adrian Rutherford and Bob Brimfield as our new Vice Presidents.
Little did I know that two years ago when I took on this role, one of my first tasks would be to deal with the saga of the men’s showers and that it would still be ongoing. It has been suggested that as the squash players are the ones who mainly use the showers (this is not a slight on the cleanliness of male tennis players by the way), it should be a squash player who should act as Project Manager then the refurbishment can take place.
The other minutiae of the Club Chairman’s life during the year was the usual dealing with leaves in South Bank, trying to stop large unauthorised vehicles using South Bank instead of the builders merchants, keeping the car park solely for the use of Weald members and visitors and still continually trying to get our members and particularly our visitors to keep to the 10 mph speed limit before someone gets run over.
One of the highlights of the year was the switching on of the clay court floodlights. The Grand Switch On was held in conjunction with a very successful Fun Friday with a fish and chip supper and saw 38 players take to the courts. A huge thank you to Alison Cumberland who project managed the whole build and did an amazing job.
A couple of weeks ago I had the honour of welcoming the new President of the LTA plus entourage to the club where they enjoyed a tour of the club and were most impressed. They saw one of our wheelchair players plus three Sound Tennis players in action and then enjoyed a lovely lunch provided by the team of Sharon Slade, Lorrayne Molloy and Sally Sharp. The Disability tennis is still meeting every four weeks and gradually, I am delighted to say, the numbers are increasing. Thanks must go to Calvin Chin and Frances Gilbert who have been assisting on court virtually at every session. Thanks also to our disability tennis sponsor, Elementary Signs, whose funding has paid for the sessions, the balls, the wheelchair ramp to courts 6 and 7 and towards the new storage area, designed and built by Russell Pelling, at the back of the clubhouse.
The Fun Fridays are still very successful and our thanks must go to the army of caterers led by Suzy Gray and Michelle Bole. The next Fun Friday will be held on November 24th. The Weald Christmas Party will be on the 16th December – thanks to Gill Stafford, Jude Christiansen and Sharon Slade for organising.