2006 - What a year! Only 1944 can surpass it for significant
happenings at Richmond Canoe Club. Sure, we had the freehold in 2005
but the realist in me was only prepared to believe it when we
actually regained occupation of the building, our building.
And what a journey it has been. To my mind the best thing about this
redevelopment is that it did not become an all consuming obsession
around which all club life revolved. Life went on. The robust species
Homo-Kayakus seemed unphased by living like a tramp in a garden shed
and in an underground car park. As we tip-toe around this glittering
palace we are not licking our wounds and planning recovery. Life went
on. People like Peter B, Trevor and Rox kept the show on the road
(water!). Membership numbers are entirely normal despite the
abnormality of the time. Mike brought a new tenacity to the
Membership Portfolio. He even managed a canoeing first in
establishing how many boats I have, and then he hit me for rack fees
on all of them. Membership now stands around the 300 mark,
maintaining us as the biggest actual canoe club in the UK. Indeed the
BCU and Sport England must surely regard this as one of the best
returns per pound ever achieved by a sports club. For a mere £230,000
a flagship clubhouse has been produced Phoenix-like from the embers
of a dying facility. We have some work still to be resolved,
completion of the balcony, restoration of the original boat store, to
mention but two outstanding items, but plans have already been
formulated to take us towards a completion.
This year the committee has been the same size as ever, but the
workload has been high. While many of the usual grafters have been
immersed in the building project, others have been there to take up
the slack. Peter H, The Neils, Sarah and Adrian have been joined by
the secret satellite committee Mark, Craig, Nick G and Colin and they
have all provided welcome input. On finance we have again valued the
steadfastness of Hazel's stewardship. But more than anyone else, two
individuals stand as Colossi (!) over the year's achievements. Graham
and Alison have poured themselves into the refurbishment like no
others. Their achievement is outstanding and we applaud them.
Now that we have this magnificent facility we must look to the future
and maximise our return on our investment. I would like to see us
going beyond what has already been achieved. While our elite racers
are already high achievers I would love to see a return to the glory
days when names like Wells and Parnham dominated British paddling. I
would like to see the touring group continue to go from strength to
strength. I would like to see Marcus's canoe paddlers continue to
flourish. I would like to see Roxanne and Alex's vibrant kids group
continue to drag our average age downwards. But the biggest change
that I believe we should now aspire to is the establishment of full
time coaching at the club. This will be a challenge, but right now we
are good at challenges - bring it on!
Last year I was able to honour Colossus number one with this award.
This year it is clearly the turn of Colossus number two. To describe
his wit as rapier-like is apt. Before putting paddle to water he was
an international swordsman. Fencing's loss has been canoeing's gain.
He has brought energy, balance, a sense of fun, and most importantly
epic achievement to this club. On behalf of us all, thank you Graham
Finally, those of us on the committee make decisions on behalf of all
of us. Over the last few years we asked you to endure and you endured
uncomplainingly. In return, we made some big decisions, we spent
your money and we took some risks. Trevor, Hazel, Tony, Tim, Peter B,
Alison, Graham and myself thank you for having faith in us and we
hope you are pleased with what has been achieved. I have used the
word 'achieved' five times (now six!), it had been that kind of year.
As freeholders we must surely have secured at least the next sixty
three years of canoe sport in Richmond. That is a legacy I intend to
enjoy and I hope you do too.
Commodore's Report 2006