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AGM 2022 Commodore’s Report

Thank you ladies and gentlemen and may I welcome you to the Annual General Meeting of Ilfracombe Yacht Club. You will be aware that this is the first AGM we have been able to organise since the last one in 2020, so I guess this is a bi-annual AGM, and this meeting will cover the events of the past two years.

Clearly a lot has happened in these two years and in order to make this report manageable and indeed shorter some events have been omitted, and others only mentioned briefly. If your particular favourite catastrophe is overlooked I apologise in advance.

No-one here needs reminding of the devastating effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on all aspects of ‘normal’ life. Circumstances have meant that we were unable to hold the AGM in 2021 as required under the constitution of the club, but the management of the club has gone on unabated.

Before I go any further it is time I think to reflect on the sadder events that have occurred. It was over a year ago that we lost our dear friend Sue Rawle who was our cub president. Sue was a long standing member and was the Vice Commodore for three years or so during June Williams watch. Her second husband the late Pete Rawle was a past Commodore of the club, as indeed was her first husband Clive Welford who also sadly passed away in December. In September 2021 one of our trustees Keith Manning’s partner Sue Hall sadly passed away. Sue had a long Association with the club, her first husband was a past Commodore as was Keith of course, our condolences go out to him and his family.

Although outside of this reporting period in May 2019 we lost Val and Martyn Bell, the ‘Bells’ bell is rung for 6@6, the irony of that is I’m sure not lost on them. All long standing members greatly missed by us all.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the officers and members of the committee for their hard work in ensuring that the club continues to function, and their forbearance in agreeing to continue in their roles for the year 2021.

It would normally be somewhat invidious of me to mention particular individuals but thanks do go in no particular order to Jane Saxton our treasurer who through her hard work and ingenuity has ensured the financial viability of the club. Also to Sandy Peace who is standing down as our secretary at this AGM. The position of secretary is an important post in the proper management of the club and Sandy is very much the Lynch pin that we all revolve around. We are all very sorry to see her go, but my understanding is that she is willing to remain as an active member of the club Committee, so her knowledge and expertise need not be lost to us all.

Also our thanks go to June Williams, our former Commodore for three years who in her capacity as the Rear Commodore undertook the staff liaison role. Her efforts in this regard have shown the importance of the role which will hopefully be fulfilled by the Vice Commodore as June is moving on.

The Vice Commodore Trevor Hill has worked hard in that capacity and I’m grateful for his wise counsel and support, and of course the exemplary way he has discharged his additional duties as the membership secretary. Also our congratulations go to him as he shortly joins the Ilfracombe harbour team and undertakes the management of the new water sports centre, we wish him well.

These flag officers have been instrumental in steering the club through the Coronavirus pandemic and I’m very grateful for their support.

Can I also mention Karen Hill your social secretary. Karen’s enthusiasm and organisational abilities are an inspiration as we trail along in the wake of this force of nature. Thanks Karen for all you have organised on behalf of the club, especially the DIY SOS that saw the revamp of the interior of the club and of course DIY SOS two which turned the skittle alley into a function room to be proud of. Karen recruited a small army of volunteers and thanks go to them all, but I should mention in particular Mark and Christine Whitehead, and Trisha and John Swan who went above and beyond. It would of course be remiss off me not to mention our Bosun Gus who we all know has continued in that role, his experience and dedication is invaluable.

It is I think worth reminding everyone that all these folk and the other members of the Committee are volunteers, and willingly give up their time for the general wellbeing of this club, really their only motive so thank you all.

We managed to cajole our landlords North Devon District Council to undertake the redecoration of the exterior of the club. The scaffolding was arranged by Tony and Shirley Clark which was really helpful.

Also I am pleased to report that we have now signed the lease which assures us of at least 20 years in these premises. Particular thanks for this goes to Geoff Fowler one of our trustees for his efforts on our behalf.

I took over as your Commodore following the AGM held on 22nd February 2020. On the 19th March (26 days later) we were compelled to close the club as the first lockdown started. What followed was the grim progress of Covid and the Committee held meetings on Zoom. We took advantage of every government help scheme we could, to build up our reserves whilst not trading.

The staff were placed on furlough and the club mothballed. We re-opened in June 2020 on very restricted terms. The club was made ‘Covid’ secure, with track and trace in place and sanitisation provided, table service and a one way system.

Despite these precautions we did have Covid infections, although it is doubtful they originated here in the club, but it forced us to close down again. Four members and one member of staff were infected, one quite seriously but I am very pleased to report all have made a good recovery.

We continued with the rule of six, table service etc. until the end of October when we locked down again. You may recall the four tier system was introduced which carried on over Christmas and into the new year. This was a very difficult period for us all.

The round Lundy Race for 2020 and 2021 was cancelled due to Covid restrictions. The organisation of these events is an arduous task and great credit goes to Team Nick Peace for all his and their efforts. The 2022 Lundy Race has had to be moved from the Platinum jubilee weekend as originally planned to 16th July as a large cruise liner is due to visit and moor across our start line. So much for power giving way to sail.

The committee continued to meet via Zoom to ensure that the affairs of the club were attended too.

The new year 2021 saw the third national lockdown on 6th January. The committee decided that the membership fees be drastically reduced due to the closures so thank you to those who renewed as this was really our sole source of income at that time.

On 22nd February the national roadmap out of restrictions was published. The club remained closed. Mid May 2021 saw the relaxing of rules affecting hospitality venues and the club reopened with table service and the rule of six. The planned phase four of the reopening was delayed until 19th July when most restrictions were lifted.

These were challenging times, the income from the bar was reduced and social functions planned here at the club cancelled. None of these decisions were taken lightly but clearly the health and safety of our members and staff were paramount.

On 18th September we welcomed Flo Tovey to the club. This 12 year old had sailed her Topper dingy from Mumbles to Ilfracombe in aid of charity. We held a small reception for her here and made her an honorary member.

We were able to hold our annual McMillan coffee morning on 24th September and raised in excess of £500.00. The 9th October saw our first quiz night for 2 years and was a tremendous success. Trafalgar night was celebrated on 24th October and a couple of meals after 6@6 were very well attended and enjoyed.

The Commodores Christmas party was well attended and the last revellers left about 2am particular thanks here to the Bodstone Boys who kept us entertained.

It is good to see the club come back to life after the trials of the previous 18 months or so. We have an ongoing schedule of events so please attend if you can.

This period also saw some staff changes. Mike Elmer retired as our club steward having seen us through the openings and closings as events unfolded. Thanks go to him for his outstanding efforts. This wasn’t easy and it is to his enormous credit that reopening went as smoothly as it did.

We also lost Tracey who moved on to pastures new. She had been a fixture here for some years and was a popular member of the team. During the summer months we had Amy and Jac here. They helped run the summer cafe which was a tremendous success. They left with our thanks for a job well done. Also our thanks go to Georgina who acted as a relief at the bar, and undertook the table service.

We have of course now got Gareth Hobson as our steward. He has fitted in extremely well, seemingly able to cope with the demands and eccentricities of the membership. It was great to see the club open on Christmas Day and new years eve, both wonderfully attended. We also have Lorna who came to us in the summer stay on as the relief steward. I think we can all agree that they make a formidable team, and thank you both for all your efforts.

That I think brings us up to date. The club has undergone a major revamp, a new boiler was fitted so the place is much warmer at reduced costs both financially and environmentally. The electrics were upgraded to modern standards of safety. You may be aware that we now have an all singing all dancing website which continues to develop. It is mobile compatible and much more user friendly, please have a look. Our thanks go to Kit Leck for his work in initially developing the site, and to Clive Batchelor for its onward maintenance and advancement.

We will hear in due course of the current financial situation the club is in. We propose some changes to the club rules as contained in the constitution. We have endeavoured to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the flag officers, and eliminate some unnecessary restrictions.

The rules and constitution need to be updated occasionally to keep them current and to comply with legislative changes, and this requires the consent of the membership. These amendments have been discussed by the elected management committee, and we will commend them to you in due course.

The past two years have been difficult for us all. I would like to think that the flag officers and Committee have steered this club through these turbulent times, and we have a club that is financially secure, thriving and most importantly coming back to life, and of course looking forward to greater things to come.

Finally may I on a personal basis thank you all for the trust you have shown in me as your Commodore. I’m quite sure that I have not got everything right, but hope that I got more right than wrong, time will tell I guess. So thank you all and we will now move on through the agenda.

Chris Jones


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