Chairman’s Report 2019

Bere Regis Sports Club 

Chairman’s Report – November 2019 

There is no doubt whatsoever that the most important event of the past year has been the successful purchase of the southern part of the recreation ground, leased from Morden Estates since 1987. It wasn’t our intention to buy it of course, but our hand was forced once the freeholders decided to place it in an auction in late September having not consulted with us first. Indeed, an email from their agent in July told us that she and one of the trustees from U-trust, the freeholders, would be visiting to look at the ’bottom field’ and that they would be ‘in touch if there was anything we needed to know’. The next any of us knew was the advertisement in a local paper about the auction!

We simply couldn’t take the risk of going to auction, where we would have no control over the price to be paid. The potential consequences of losing control over that land were devastating. For that reason, the trustees, backed by the management committee, put together a bid with a significant premium to the guide price. The bid was successful in keeping it out of the auction, but further difficulties had to be overcome before completion was worthwhile. Access rights and VAT matters were the sticking points, but we held our ground and, with tremendous support from our solicitor, the deal was done and completion took place on 25th October.

That part of the recreation ground is now held in trust, by the three club trustees. This ensures that the field is safe from any kind of development for the foreseeable future, but the trustees will be taking further action to ensure that safety for the long-term.

In our time of need it was good to have the support of the Parish Council, our county councillor, our MP and of course, our club members and many local residents. It is our intention to thank those supporters with an event to be held at the club and of course, by further securing the future of the recreation ground for public use.

In other developments, following several requests from members we enlisted the services of ‘LoveAdmin’, a specialist online membership platform, allowing members to pay membership fees through direct debit or card payments. That was followed later in the year by the introduction of a point of sale card reader at the bar, since when a significant percentage of sales have involved payment by credit/debit card.

Late June saw the club in focus as the venue for the Mid-Summer Bere Fest, organised by the Parish Council, an event that attracted several hundred residents on a hot sunny day.

On the field of play, the senior football team, under new management, has made a promising start to the season in Division 3 of the Dorset League. Once again, I commend both Mark Bennett and Dean Rogerson for their hard work in keeping the club going during some tricky times. It’s also great to note that three under 17/18s have made the step up into the senior squad, showing that the football development plan written several years ago is achieving the aims set.

As ever, the junior football section has undergone some changes. It’s always a struggle in a smaller club to field teams at each age-group and every year a new formula needs to be found for which teams to form. There are always perceived ‘winners and losers’ from that formula. Mike Bosworth and Keith Traynor have provided stability through all of this for several years now but both have indicated their desire to stand down and a change at the administrative level MUST come very soon. Someone must step up and take on the posts of chairman and secretary of the junior football section, following the examples recently set by Steve McEleney and Elly Holyoak, both of whom have qualified and taken on the post of Club Welfare Officer.

In the cricket section, the Saturday first team maintained their Premiership status with a 7th place finish, while the second team await confirmation from the league that their third place in division 5 may have been enough to gain them promotion. The evening league team struggled for numbers and paid the price with some heavy defeats, but it is great testimony to Stuart Beasley as captain, along with a small band of regulars, that the team completed the season. Premier league status for the first team also depends upon facilities and the organisation of three youth reams playing in leagues. We just about managed that this year with Under 9s, 13s and 15s. The under 9s made great progress, playing in festivals as well as individual matches. The under 13s won both the West Dorset League and the Dave Cheffey cup competition, while the under 15s finished as runners up in their league. As with the football section, several of the youth team players stepped up into senior squads during the season.

Our Pool and Darts teams’ fixtures continue to be a regular feature of the weekly calendar with both of these sections operating on nights of the week when we wouldn’t otherwise be opening and therefore attracting different people into the club. My thanks go to those who organise these teams. 

Again, a number of well attended, successful ‘social events’ were organised through the year and I thank the group of volunteers at the heart of the organisation of those events, which again, often introduce new faces into the club. They take a lot of planning and the amount of work that goes in should not be underestimated. It’s been pointed out many times in the past that match fees and memberships alone do not cover the costs of providing the sports facilities here, so fundraising is an essential part of our club life, ensuring our sustainability. 

My sincere thanks go to the Management Committee, particularly for their support during the difficult negotiations regarding the land purchase, as well as the various section and sub-committee’s that keep this club running. At a time when all organisations are finding it difficult to recruit volunteers we should all be most appreciative of the number of hours dedicated by all those who serve the club in such a way.

I recently daw the following quote and immediately thought of all the volunteers that keep this club going.

Volunteers are not unpaid because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.

How true.

In my report last year I noted that more and more is expected of volunteers working at grass-roots level in clubs such as ours. I still see no chance of any reversal in that trend, so I make no apology for repeating that it’s far better for ten people to do an hour’s work each, than for one person to do ten hours work. But, for that to happen, nine others must step forward.  

If you’re not already doing so, please come and help those who already are! 

Andy Kent 

Chairman, November 2019