I am pleased to report that Marlow Rowing Club has enjoyed another memorable year.


Review of the year – on the water (June 2006 to June 2007)

Since the last AGM we have had international success at the World Championships held at Dorney and my congratulations to Katherine Grainger MBE, Zac Purchase, Naomi Riches and Sarah Winckless for achieving Gold in their chosen events. 

These achievements have been matched with Stephanie Mottram winning Gold at both the Coupe and World Youth Olympics. Coupled with the successes of Stephanie and Tash Wase at the 2006 Women’s Henley and Henley Royal supported by strong performances by both the Juniors and Men it has proved to be one of our most successful seasons. 

However it is not only at the highest level that the Club has continued to excel. Across all squads there have been excellent results and active participation. I will not steal any more of our Captain Tom McGibbon’s thunder for his report but it has been very gratifying to see everyone’s hard work bear some reward. My thanks to all of the athletes and coaches for their contribution.

Review of the year – off the water

To provide some structure to the remainder of my report (a welcome change I appreciate!) I have set out my review of the year under various headings which hopefully make sense:-

Finances

Concentrating on the financial position of the Club I am again pleased to report that under the constant vigilance of our Treasurer, Jackie Thoeming, the Club has achieved a surplus and that the Club’s finances remain strong. 

Following the precedent set in the last few years we have continued to spend our surpluses on new boats, equipment and premises as part of our ongoing Club improvement strategy and I would like to see this strategy continue along with the establishment of a “property refurbishment fund”. It is quite clear that a substantial re-build will be required in the medium term (within say 10 years) of the oldest part of the Clubhouse so it makes sense to establish a fund for this project. 

Within the annual report Members will have a detailed account of the Club’s financial position and the surplus for the year. 

Club strategy

As indicated in last year’s report I established a Strategy Working Party that was chaired by Richard Robinson. The main recommendations from this group can be summarised as follows:-

• Premises should be refurbished and improved and in the medium term a rebuilding programme will need to be considered

• Re-location of the Club was not considered a viable option

• The Club should continue to strive for rowing excellence across all groups and maintain the ethos set out in the Club’s rules and constitution

• The Club should try to establish a high performance under 23 academy to encourage the flow of membership into the senior elite groups

• Encourage further involvement of Club members in the sport particularly through help at events and umpiring courses

I fully support these recommendations and hope they meet with the approval of all members at the AGM. My thanks to Richard and all members who contributed to this strategy discussion.

Social events

We have again had an excellent year of social events with a very enjoyable Summer Ball held at Harleyford Golf Club. Mark Stokes and his team are now busy organising this year’s event to be held in September at the Crowne Plaza. 

The Club supper saw our outgoing President, Sir Francis Ferris in fine form, the longest Captain’s speech in living memory (well mine anyway) and an excellent and informed speech by our guest of honour, Maurice Hayes. Natasha Smith and Mike Mounsden were recipients of the Sharp and Coombes trophy awards to recognise their contributions to the Club. 

The Regatta day and Barbeque held for the “First Row Challenge” was a superb day with Sarah Winckless kindly presenting the prizes and plans are already underway for this year’s event. 

During the year there were a number of other well supported social events and my thanks to Peter Hunt and the rest of the Bar Committee for the excellent work they perform.  

People – some special thanks

My thanks again 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. With the assistance of her funds we now have a superbly refurbished kitchen.

I must single out for a special mention Peter Hunt for his overall effort on behalf of the Club. In addition to his role as Bar secretary he continued as Membership Secretary and then agreed to act as Safety officer. This is an enormous contribution to the Club which I hope is fully appreciated by all members. Peter even helped us out with towing boats to the 8’s head when he was supposed to be tank driving that day! 

Nick Hoare has had an extremely traumatic year as Premises manager dealing with numerous break ins and burglaries. He has dealt with them ably and even found the time to assist in the police apprehending one of the culprit’s. He organised another highly successful work day and the Club is looking pretty tidy – lets try and keep it that way.

Peter Hepworth, the Club Boatman, has again repaired numerous boats damaged at the Club. Whilst it is fair to say that a lot of the damage has arisen due to racing accidents such as the “Titanic like” sinking of Rowers Revenge, a good deal has been caused by the negligent handling of boats by a large number of Members, some of whom should know better. Peter has borne this task with resigned fortitude but I would ask members to try and exercise a lot more care and attention when handling boats and blades.


Again I must pay tribute to all those members, and in particular Peter Blaseby, who have devoted much of their time in organising Race events, Regattas and social functions. Through their efforts they have provided a very valuable source of revenue for the Club and some fun along the way.

Sponsors

I mentioned earlier in my report the financial strength of the Club and again I am indebted to the generous financial support received from Hamptons, HSBC, Lewis Chambers and Vantis. We have also been in discussion with Marlow Town Regatta in respect of the provision of a safety launch and further equipment sponsorship such as the Starters tent. 

Committee changes

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

As indicated at last year’s AGM Sir Francis Ferris, our President, will retire and we will be seeking a replacement. Francis has served on the Committee as Captain (1957), Chairman for 15 years (1971 to 1986) and as President since 1992. By my calculations that amounts to some 30 years working on behalf of the Club which is a remarkable achievement. He has been a stalwart of the Club and we have all appreciated and benefited from his wisdom and counsel. Francis will be a very difficult act to follow but Bill Findlay has kindly indicated his willingness to serve and I hope he will receive your full support.

I am sure you will all join me in wishing Francis a very happy retirement although we do expect to see him at various Club occasions in the future.

Tom McGibbon has also, reluctantly, decided to stand down as Captain since it was proving impossible for Tom to combine full time training and running a business with that of Captaincy. We must respect Tom’s decision and wish him well going forward – hopefully to a medal at this year’s Henley. Bret King has agreed to return as Captain for one further year whilst we groom a successor and again I hope you are able to fully support Bret at the AGM.

Pam Smith stepped down as Welfare Secretary during the year and she has been replaced by Wendy Humphrey. The role of Welfare Secretary is an important position and we are fortunate that someone as well qualified as Wendy in this area was prepared to stand.

My thanks to all other Main Committee and Sub Committee members who have supported me throughout the year and made my job easy. (well most of the time!)


In conclusion we have had another great year but in the future we should not expect this as a “matter of right”. For Marlow Rowing Club to maintain it’s pre-eminent position we desperately need “fresh blood” to assist the members who already give an enormous amount of time and effort at various events, in running the club and providing financial support. I have considerable concerns that the bulk of the work falls upon the shoulders of a few, and with no disrespect intended to them, ageing group. Mike Densley has highlighted to the Committee the potential lack of Umpires in the future and with Peter Blaseby standing down as Marlow Spring and Fours and Pairs organiser there is another huge gap to fill. Peter has embodied the selfless attitude of those members who have given time to the Club and it is now for other members to step forward and take up the challenge.

We need helpers for this summer’s regatta’s that bear our name and for the First Row Challenge and Rowers Revenge. I would ask you not to let me down but to provide your full support to this great Club.

Ian Hewitt 
June 2007