An update on progress at the club in April.

Much of the focus of the committee this month has been on fundraising, the building and governance.  We also need your help with a quick survey to help with the building – please do it now!

Fundraising - Community

Our community fundraising sub-committee led by Jonathan Walne is looking at running various events during the year including:

  • This spring, a fundraising event in conjunction with Marlow mayor Jocelyn Towns (where items previously donated to the club will be auctioned);
  • During the Olympics, a breakfast event for local business;
  • In July a fundraising event with Sir Steve Redgrave (Richard Ellwood is leading this);
  • In September, a fundraising dinner including auctions;
  • In October, a fashion show (Sam Simon is leading on this).

The fundraising group have high hopes for these events and we wish them well with their fundraising targets.

In addition there is the Parents’ scratch regatta coming up on the 18th May (you may have seen the teams racing against each other in the Icebreaker event on 1st January) and the juniors are looking a doing a long distance sponsored row – probably from Oxford to the club.

Also over the course of the coming year there will be some more standard events – the club supper and a Burns Night. If you would like to run an event, or help someone who is doing so, please contact Jonathan via volunteer@marlowrowingclub.org.uk">volunteer@marlowrowingclub.org.uk

Fundraising – Grants

On the grants side, we are putting together a grant submission to Sport England, for their Iconic Facilities fund. Chris Lenton is leading on this and as always with larger grant applications there is a significant amount of paperwork to do. There is a vicious circle in making grant applications: to make the application you must know what you want to build/do and yet it is a difficult position to get to if you do not know how much money you will have. This is a real opportunity to improve the club for the future, so we are pressing ahead with seeking Sport England funding and designing on the basis that it can be obtained. If we cannot do that we will have to fall back to a much more restricted refurbishment plan but in fact that might require us to raise more money ourselves. Within that we also have to demonstrate how the club fits into local sporting provision and whether the club could/should share any part of its facilities with another club. We are therefore making tentative enquiries to other local clubs about what facilities they lack and what, if any, co-operation might be appropriate.

Property

The committee reviewed the current sketch plans for a new building and expressed concern about the boat storage capacity of the design. The Property Sub-committee have made further amendments and are seeking more advice from the planners about what changes to roofline, footprint etc are possible. If they give us tentative support, we will be able to share the designs with the membership and community and of course we will keep you updated.

Parking at the club has always been restricted, and will be a challenge for any rebuilding. We therefore need to undertake a survey specifically about parking and how you get to the club. It’s very short – so please complete it here.

Club Structure and Governance

As reported in previous updates, the committee has agreed in principle to incorporate the club into a company limited by guarantee (a route taken by Marlow Regatta and the Town Regatta) and  also to move the club from “Community Amateur Sports Club” status to full charity status (like Marlow Sport Club, for example).

Charity law was changed in the last few years to specifically recognise advancement of amateur sport as a charitable object, provided that there is a benefit to the public. Marlow RC has been promoting amateur rowing and sculling to the people of Marlow and the surrounding areas for a century and intends to do so for the century to come. We have been operating specifically as an open club for the community under the CASC scheme since 2004, so it seems sensible to adopt full charity status.

There are significant financial benefits:  MRC was about to outgrow the CASC tax exemptions in its normal operations and also the exceptional financial transactions involved in a building project mean that switching to a charity/subsidiary structure (i.e. a charity with a wholly owned trading company, MRC Trading) should be more financially/tax efficient.

In addition to the financial benefits, charity status is more widely understood than CASC status and provides better protections for the assets of the charity. It is important to the committee that the land, building and equipment of the club is protected against capture by any outside interest that might wish to move away from rowing. Charity status brings a number of advantages that can help with this.

Alongside all this the committee intends to alter the governance structure of the club: the intention is to have a smaller main committee and conduct more of the work of the club through interest groups that allow members to participate in the running of the club more easily. I'm in the process of writing this all up and I will then be issuing an EGM notice to all members to seek the membership’s support to bring in all these changes.

Summary

There remains a lot to do, and programming all the streams of work is a challenge with so much to fit into the plan. We will announce more as and when we are able to – in the interim please help us by filling out the transport survey.

As always, if you want to find out more about what is going on, you can email me or any member of the committee.

Ed Phillips

Club Secretary