Secretary’s report 2021

Not long since my last one on 2020. Here is a summary of our activities in a very difficult year for everyone from home to work. We have tried our best through all the testing problems we have encountered with the Covid pandemic. Some people have coped better than others. I can appreciate the test on our mental wellbeing. There have been many anxieties, discussions and disagreements during this time of enforced loneliness and limited contact. Frustrations have been taken out in many ways. Life is no longer the same. The pandemic has highlighted many shortcomings as well as strong local friendships, bonds and appreciation for others.

At the club there were a lot of disagreements divisive comments, group culture, unnecessary issues and a lot of varied interpretations of the Covid 19 Guidance not helped by the continual changing by the Government. During this time we lost, through resignation, a very motivating coach and member. As a result we lost some younger athletes. Another experienced coach cut down on their activities both as a coach and helper.

During this time our covid officers tried to keep everyone informed of the Covid Guidelines. When allowed to they opened the track for group training by organising a rota system each week. Hayley did a good job here after early hiccups. Committee meetings continued to be held through email.

January began with a national lockdown. Track and Field  Leagues were organised in the hope of going ahead. We had several home meetings. Committee discussed and agreed membership fee be 50% of 2020 fee, with the option to pay more, plus no late fee or pro-rata payments. EA fee was at £16. Payment by bank transfer and cheque. No cash. Information put on all our platforms. Hayley informed coaches and they were to check their group members had paid. Information poster at the club. Members were extremely patient and understanding throughout this.

Out of date stock gradually removed. Mrs. Pearson and I had many incidents associated with breaking/stretching of the Covid 19 guidelines. Proper investigation was hampered by lockdown and no face to face. Only phone and email could be used which was not ideal. People became more agitated with the ever-changing guidance and took their frustration out at our facilitators for the Government, Local Authority and E.A. This upset our facilitators.

The virtual sessions organised by some coaches went down well. In February Joan Knott resigned as a committee member. We thank her for her good work over the last few years. Club members did a video tribute to Cheryl Trotman on 23-01-2021. The club track and field championships eventually had to be postponed due to covid guidelines.

In March E.A. decided to hold their fee at £15. A lot of membership fees were received. We offered to re-imburse. They offered to donate. Thank you. Throughout the lockdown we aired the clubroom, ran the showers and tidied the clubhouse and the track. Wendy Andrews looked for a kit supplier that gave a better fitting and quality. She involved members and Fastrax were chosen We are talking about vest/crop top. You pay when ordering from Wendy. Thank you to Wendy for looking after this.

The May re-opening went well. Thanks to Ian Halliday for putting together a Sport England Club Support bid designed to help pay for a track clean. He got £5000 for the club. We received a £10,000 Business Rates Grant and a £9,000 Coronavirus Grant. Thanks to Dennis Thomas for agreeing to be YDL Lower team manager. We held home Northern League, YDL Lower and Upper and Cheshire League meetings but were struggling for officials. Harry no longer wished to be Chief Timekeeper and we sadly lost Heather Hirst, our Field Referee, coach, organiser and lovely lady. Fortunately Alan Johnson could do some computer results. Then there was Track and Trace and cleaning/washing of everything plus finding a covid co-ordinator. Thanks to all our helpers at our meetings.

In May Christine and I sent committee members an email letter expressing concern about the future. We needed constructive help.  Three members replied. Joanne and Darren expressed their views at the committee meeting. Hayley offered some ideas. During the last fourteen months up to June I organised email committee meetings and tried to deal with many issues. Christine and I were inundated with emails from various sources. Despite our best efforts it was a near impossible task due to the volume of work. When views were requested these were not forthcoming and contributed to the situation. I expressed genuine concern for the future of the club.

A small group of us have kept the club going. Committee have been kept in the picture. No maintenance was done without the knowledge of the committee. Committee members could have contacted with concerns. We had quotes for the large work. Costing has been within our means. The amount in the account has been within £5,000 and £15,000. None of this needs factoring in to future costing for many years. Thanks to all who helped with the following renovations: flooring painted, ceilings lowered, doors repaired, LED lighting in the clubroom and other rooms, gym redecorated, meeting room redecorated, carpets had an industrial clean, dado completed and painted, wall below painted, wall above cleaned, corridor walls and doors painted, ceiling tiles replaced, plastic screen put on bar and kitchen counter, one way system, Marley floor painted, wall extended and painted. A lot of these were paid for by donations. Thank you to those who donated.

We hired a jet wash which cleared dirt, moss and lichen on the ‘D’ area, pole vault and long jump run up. Pole vault mat cover catalogue price £10,000 Barrie said he could make one for £2,000. The thought was of easing the load on our volunteer equipment team. With the same reasoning we have looked at a sit on mower. All the clubroom photographs have been framed. A local artist has donated a painting of the track. Ernie Greenwood has donated a well received photographic collage for the clubroom wall. We still did the basic cleaning when required. Committee agreed painting of the main roof at £400 and of the flat roof and metalwork at £300. Steeplechase barriers repaired. We purchased a new defibrillator.

Mrs. Pearson recorded her thanks, on behalf of the committee, to Eddie for his continuing hard work and commitment during the exceptionally difficult period.

The bar and kitchen were deep cleaned and tidied ready for opening. We had no response to a request for interest in being bar steward. We agreed to open clubroom on 31-08-2021. Emma MacQueen and Christine Pearson have looked after the bar since opening. We thank them. Members are slowly coming back into the clubroom.

Thanks to Joanne for all her hard work sorting the finances during a very difficult time. We have been lucky to have had such good Treasurer’s.

Talking of members who have added something to the fabric of our club we have lost many this year: Eddie Gee, Andrew Hartshorne, Malcolm Harding, Paul Maidment, Terry Beilby, Sue Edwards, Sylvia Wood, Keith Parker and Heather Hirst. I am sorry if I have missed someone. All will be sadly missed.

August committee meeting was the first face to face at the club. Congratulations to Georgia Taylor-Brown on winning Olympic medals competing in the triathlon.

We are struggling for coaches to take new young athletes. The waiting list is getting longer. Committee discussed a furniture upgrade. We need easy clean, functional and stackable. Bromley’s sponsorship on hold.

We held a Special General Meeting in September where membership fees reverted to 2019 level and restructure to be discussed at 2022 AGM. Barrie Little organising a centenary sub-committee. No date decided and nothing organised. Several ideas mentioned. Monthly mile re-starting. No bar steward and no more on upgrading the website. Nothing on communication and incentive scheme on new members. Two committee members down. Cross Country fees to be paid by athletes. Encouragement needed.

On 30-10-2021 we held a Track and Field Presentation where only the trophies were presented. Thanks to Mike Coogan for presenting the trophies. The night went well. Well done to those who did well individually and as part of a team. Their achievements could be seen on our social media platforms and website.

Thanks to Glenn Piper for all the hard work he has put in to produce a Centenary History of E.C.H. 1922-2022.Checking in the local Archive Library 7th October 1922 was the birth of E.C.H.

At the November meeting Saul Gallagher attended, as a Trustee, to express his concern about the future of the club. The club were losing money and needed to make short and long term decisions. Membership is down and we needed to look at cost of cleaning. He felt the present situation was not sustainable.

After Mr. Gallagher left committee discussed. They felt there was a financial and a wider membership aspect to discuss. Next year Income will increase and expenditure significantly down. Members felt it was short notice to decide and agreed to discuss at the next meeting. At the December meeting members discussed the future financially. Members had copies of the last three year’s monthly figures and a breakdown done by Steve Parsons. Several were not seeing the immediate financial crash the two Trustees seemed to be worried about. The main answer the two Trustees had was discontinuing payments for a maintenance/caretaker and bar steward. Going back to voluntary work by members. Members looked at future income and expenditure. If this was not done by the end of the year, the two Trustees letter stated, then they would instigate a Special General Meeting in the new year. Members felt the two Trustees needed to share the figures they have used to support their argument and proposed a meeting on 12-01-2022 to discuss and share. Steve had also done his thoughts on membership development for members to read.

The committee meeting was boosted by committee members who rarely attended and the two Trustees got the vote they wanted. The extra committee members did not attend the following committee meeting.

In November/December we agreed to find details for having a card machine. Sum Up seems to be favourite. We purchased a new club tent for meetings. We held a Christmas Fun Run thanks to Hayley. We did not present the annual trophies. 2022 membership details put on club website. We discussed ideas on 2023 subscriptions. Glenn Piper has offered to look after the EA Fees and registering athletes online. He is also doing distance club records. Not track and field. Track clean is May 16th 2022 at £8154 including vat. I am sorry if I have missed anything.

Thanks to all Team Managers. Well done to all athletes who managed to train and represent the club.

Let’s hope for a better 2022.

J. Murphy (Secretary).