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Commodore's Report 2007

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!

Commodore's Award

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 Stonehouse.

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



Landsdowne Boathouse
81-83 Petersham Road
Richmond upon Thames
Surrey TW10 6UT
United Kingdom

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