At our AGM, I will have completed five years in the chair and this report gives me the opportunity to share with you my reflections on our activities and what lies ahead.
Voluntary organisations like ours would not work without a dedicated team – our trustees meet on a regular basis to review ongoing projects and opportunities and we hold four or five ‘executive’ meetings during the year, which include the other team members as well as representatives from Borough and Town councils and our friends from Active Surrey. I like to move these meetings around to different sports clubs’ locations, so we can meet them, and they can meet us – if we haven’t visited you yet – let me know and we will schedule you in.
Sport Godalming is a well-respected and well-run outfit, involving itself in our local community with a cross-section of sportsmen and women as part of our team. We counsel and lobby for our members and provide information as well as grants, both large and small, to help athletes in their pursuits of sporting excellence.
So, a snapshot of the last year from both a personal and team perspective – as chairman, I attend the Surrey Sports Councils Forum, which meets occasionally and is an opportunity to see how other sports councils operate – share best practice & joint working opportunities and of course ideas – this kick-started January where we heard a presentation on the role that the Surrey Sports Park plays in the local community.
In February, together with our trustees, we were invited to celebrate Surrey Playing Fields 90th birthday, which was held at Effingham & Leatherhead Rugby Club, which was an excellent evening and networking opportunity.
Our AGM followed in March and was hosted again by Guildford Rugby Club. The accounts were adopted, the trustees were re-elected as were the committee with Rebekah Warren joining the team. This was followed by an ‘Open Meeting’ where presentations to our five successful applicants in our ‘Go for Gold – The Road to Tokyo’ programme, which also encompasses ‘Elite’ awards, were made – these went to Patrick Croghan (Sailing) Claudia Lance Jones and Olivia Okoli (athletics) Nicky Greenhill (Para Equestrian) Anna Litvinenko (Ice Skating) and Jamie Oakey (Triathlon). Jamie Mansfield (Judo) was awarded funds from this programme in June.
Our Open Meeting also celebrated the success of women’s and girls’ sport in the borough and we had presentations from Farncombe Wanderers Cricket Club, Godalming Cricket Club, Godalming Town Football Club, Milford Pumas Football Club and the Waverley Vipers Netball Club.
We set great store in our relationship with both our Borough and Town Councils and are grateful to them for their funding, which is essential and enables us to carry out our activities. In 2013 Waverley introduced a partnership agreement programme with all the sports councils and Sport Godalming is delighted to be involved with this initiative.
An example of this ‘partnership’ opportunity was the Godalming Run, now in its sixth year, which attracted 986-people running in three distance races around the town and countryside on a Sunday in May – it is now a firm fixture in the Godalming calendar – and we are determined to crack the one thousand barriers in 2018.
On the subject of the Godalming Run, our thanks also go to the Charterhouse Club and to the Town Council, without whom this event wouldn’t happen – to Waverley Harriers for their continued support and to Alton Sports, who provided the prizes.
In June I enjoyed attending the 150th anniversary of Godalming & Farncombe Bowling Club, where the members all were attired in the dress of those days and played in those clothes in a celebratory match! I still have the image of their president in top hat and tails firmly etched in my mind!
We hold the ‘purse strings’ for the re-named Surrey Para Games and enjoyed a morning at the Charterhouse club in July to support these youngsters in a variety of sports.
The three sports councils in the borough are very close on many issues and each year I am invited to Sport Haslemere and Farnham Sports Council’s awards evenings – these happen in late September and early October respectively and are always excellent occasions… I have been known to pinch the odd idea for our sports awards, which of course follow these…! In passing, a big thank you to both Peter Lawrence (Haslemere chairman) and David Gill (Farnham chairman) for adjudicating both our ‘Go for Gold’ applicants and also our sports awards nominations – our friend Don Wilmott makes up the third person on that panel.
Our annual sports awards for 2017 was again held in the Wilfrid Noyce Centre in October to ‘showcase’ the cream of Godalming (and surrounds) athletes. This ‘played’ to a packed house and there were some amazing stories that came out of the presentations – we were also delighted to have Chris Arthey as our guest speaker – he (and his wife) were involved in a life-changing motorcycle accident some 10 years ago and both lost their left legs… but both re-built their lives and Chris is now an endurance para-athlete. Using prosthetic legs, he has run marathons, triathlons and climbed Kilimanjaro! He gave a motivational and sometimes moving talk about both their struggles and successes.
Our website records the evening together with a full list of winners and I should also mention our award sponsors – Waverley (Sports Team of the Year) Trade Direct (Youth Sports Personality of the Year) Active Surrey (Coach of the Year) Surrey Playing Fields (Young Volunteer of the Year) Charterhouse Club (Sports Personality of the Year) and Specsavers (Sport Development) – our thanks to all of them.
As a sports council, we have resisted in the past changing our dates for our annual sports awards as we have always felt that application deadlines for entry to the Surrey Sports Awards was too early, particularly involving Schools participation, which obviously, we are very keen to recognise. However, the last couple of years we have accommodated these earlier deadlines, which have caused us problems but now understand that the rules have changed again… so we will do our own thing, which has worked very successfully for many years!
Sponsorship is always important to support the various activities your sports council is involved with and we are always on the lookout for such partnerships – we are very grateful to Trade Direct Insurance for their support for the Godalming Run and for supporting a category in our Sports Awards and understand that Haines Watts will also be supporting us next year.
At this year’s AGM we will be giving the second round of annual grants to successful ‘Go for Gold’ candidates to help them to live their dream – at the other end of the spectrum, our small grants programme continues to attract and if that small donation can be the trigger that makes the difference between pursuing that persons ambitions to achieve… or not, then we feel that it is a very worthwhile cause.
We also get involved with various Waverley surveys that happen from time to time and this year it concentrated on the Playing Pitch Strategy. We met Knight, Kavanagh & Page (KKP) in February and October – they were commissioned to carry out a comprehensive audit and assessment of the supply and demand issues for all indoor and outdoor sports facilities in the borough. This assessment identifies local need for provision within Waverley and will serve as the key evidence base that will inform the future strategic planning and investment priorities in sport and recreation facilities across the borough.
So, what does 2018 hold for us – I still have a lot of ambitions – one ambition which I had when taking the chair, was a close working relationship with the other sports council’s in the borough. So that’s a tick… I would still like to see a united Broadwater Park ‘village’ with all the sports users talking and working together and maybe that door is starting to open with the new ‘Godalming Park Run’ which is planned to start in May – I am pleased that we have been involved with this initiative and have also set aside funds towards its set up costs – another tick… I would also like to have more sports clubs be part of our ‘umbrella’ and more sports clubs represented on our executive and finally, to have more School’s involvement in our Sports awards – so work in progress….
One success in 2016 was our ‘schools challenge’ programme which didn’t run this year but will do again in 2018. My thanks especially to Kerry Fowler at Broadwater School for her enthusiasm and drive engaging four schools – Broadwater, Glebelands, Rodborough and Woolmer Hill but more on that next time…
Finally, to our website… we have so much ‘stuff’ on it, which is not a bad thing, but it is really past its ‘sell-by’ date and needs a complete up-grade. As it happens the other sports councils are in similar positions and meetings with Waverley have prompted us all to review our sites and maybe have a cohesive approach to streamlining and making them more user-friendly – more on that subject next time as well….
Is that enough – well maybe for now it is – I suppose a final goal would be see those youngsters come out from behind their computers and engage with all the sporting opportunities that our clubs can offer – even just a couple of hours a week – it would make such a difference to their lifestyles…
Enjoy your sport.
Simon Crowther – Chairman