It seems only a few moments ago that I was meeting with Peter Hunt, my predecessor, to understand what the “job” of Marlow Rowing Club Chairman entailed.

A year has now passed as I prepare my annual report and I look forward to meeting the Members at the AGM who will no doubt let me know how I have performed!

I am pleased to report that it has been another extremely successful year for the Club both on and off the water.

Our outgoing Captain, Bret King, will detail our competitive successes and our Treasurer, Jackie Thoeming, the financial strength of the Club, in their respective reports. However, I will take the opportunity to highlight that Club Members competing at Junior, Senior and Veteran level have all again excelled and it has been an honour to be associated with those achievements.

Throughout the year I have been reminded by how well Marlow Rowing Club is perceived in the World of Rowing. It was a great pleasure for me to spend the evening with Zac Purchase and Sarah Winckless at the Annual Club Supper and to learn of their achievements and Zac explained how proud he was to be associated with Marlow Rowing Club. It is indeed a tribute to his and Sarah’s dedication to the sport that despite the abundance of wine on the President’s table they both performed superbly the following day at the National Indoor Rowing Championships.

In addition to the Club Supper I have attended a number of excellent social events such as the Riverboat Shuffle (complete with sub zero August temperatures), Burns Night (worst hangover of the year!), and the New Members Evening. All of the social events have been organised by enthusiastic Club Members who were keen to raise as much money for the Club as possible at the same time as having a good time. They succeeded on both counts. My thanks to them and I would ask all members to support the forthcoming Dinner Dance Fundraiser in September being organised by Mark Stokes and his social committee. At this point I should also mention special word of thanks to Natasha Smith and her team for organising the club catering and with the surplus profit generated making a significant contribution to the catering equipment fund.

I would also like to pay tribute to those members who have devoted much of their time in organising Race events and Regattas. Again they have provided a very valuable source of revenue to the Club and their effort should not go unrecognised. There are too many to name for fear of missing some off the list but my thanks to all of them.

I mentioned earlier in my report the financial strength of the Club and am pleased to announce that a major sponsorship with Hampton International was concluded during the year. I look forward to a long relationship with this Company and my thanks also to all Club supporters and sponsors. Within the annual report Members will have a detailed account of the Club’s financial position and the surplus for the year.

Whilst I fully accept that the Club is a “not for profit” organisation, in my view it is essential to build financial reserves for the future. Whilst the Club benefits from a significant boat stock with an insured value in excess of £250K it is necessary to keep updating and improving this equipment. The Club has benefited from indivdual donations during the year that has enabled an “eight” and a “double” to be purchased. I have respected the donors’ wishes to keep these donations “low key” but I must formally express thanks on behalf of the Club for their generosity. Additionally the Club at junior level has received sponsorship support from Lewis Chambers, Financial Advisers enabling a new coaching launch to be acquired and Project Oarsome “t” shirts. None the less a significant amount of our surplus has been spent on the Boat stock.

Likewise the Committee has embarked upon refurbishment and improvement to the Clubhouse and its facilities. The Club benefited during the year from a very generous donation of new flooring to the bar and gym areas and is in the process of organising a full refurbishment to the kitchen. All of these expenditures were necessary and I trust are well received by the Members. The “Work Day” I believe was a huge success which assisted greatly in improving the general upkeep of the Club and I hope to repeat this event in future years which will help to keep maintenance costs down.

Beyond however immediate boat renewals and Clubhouse refurbishment key decisions must be taken going forward. With Sir William Borlase moving from the Club we have been able to acquire further boats and reorganised the Boathouse. However, if Members want Marlow Rowing Club to maintain its pre-eminent role within the sport, further improvements and enlargement of the facilities will need to be considered.

During my year as Chairman I asked all sections of the Club through the Rowing Subcommittee to formulate their own strategy documents. All of these strategy documents were consistent in they wished to maintain competitive objectives and improve upon their achievements to date.

Likewise as part of the Legacy 2006 ARA Initiative the Club were asked to attend various meetings and to act as a “Benchmark” or “Pilot” Club. The ARA is committed to attracting more participants into the sport which will again create greater demands on the existing Club. The Club has lead the way in running highly successful junior and adult novice courses and would wish for this to continue with the ARA’s support.

It is with this continued success in mind that I am asking members for their views on an expansion of these facilities at the Club. Any Committee to embark upon such a project need the Members mandate and it is therefore vitally  important that we receive your views. The Club is blessed with talented athletes and coaches alike; it is essential that we, as a Club, provide the infrastructure and facilities to assist them. Please therefore contact me to pass on your views whatever they may be. Assuming I am re-elected as Chairman I will be establishing a working party to review the various options moving forward.

With the AGM approaching there are a number of farewells to be made.

Mike Mounsdon has been Club Secretary for forty years and retires at this AGM. Mike has been a stalwart of the Club and has performed his role diligently and in a quiet, efficient and understated way. He will be an impossible act to follow but Ian Pike has kindly put himself forward for the role and I hope he will receive all Members support. On behalf of the Club I would like to thank Mike and his family for all the work he has done over the years.

Quiet and understated are not attributes I would necessarily use to describe our outgoing Captain, Bret King. Bret has handled at times a difficult job with a firm fairness and has not shied away from decisions. He now wishes to concentrate on his coaching and I must respect that decision but I believe he will be sorely missed. Again we are blessed with an “heir apparent”  in Tom McGibbon and I am sure you will all give him your full support.

Finally I would like to complete my report by paying tribute to my Committee who have supported me during the year and by hoping that all Members enjoy what promises to be an exciting summer of regattas culminating in the World Championships at Dorney Lake in August.

Ian Hewitt
June 2006