The President’s Report
Well Brother and Sister curlers, Ladies and Gentlemen, what a year this past 12 months has turned out to be. This time a year ago the Covid situation was not good but we were fairly optimistic that things would improve by the time we were going to be back on the ice. Does that sound familiar ? Let’s hope that this year our optimism is not misplaced !
As the 20/21 season drew near a huge amount of effort was put in by the staff and by the ice rinks to ensure as safe an environment as possible. I lost count of the number of revisions to the Return to Curling guidelines produced by the team in the office ! Even so, there was a fair amount of hesitancy amongst the curlers and some rinks made the decision to postpone opening whilst some decided that they would stay closed for the whole season.
Those which did decide to open were quickly faced with varying levels of Covid restrictions and, very soon, all curling came to an end with the exception of the athletes in the National Academy.
With next to no income having come through the door there was a genuine fear that some of the privately owned rinks would go to the wall which would have been disastrous for curling. We are indebted to the Scottish Ice Rinks Association under the chairmanship of Mike Ferguson for pulling together the facts and figures to demonstrate why the rinks needed to be considered a special case for financial support and to Bruce Crawford for his contacts at SportScotland which resulted in some £2m being allocated by the Scottish Government. A great combined effort by Mike and Bruce.
The restrictions put paid to all my good intentions of getting around the rinks and meeting the curlers. I had made arrangements early on to play in the Highland Province bonspiel with Ian Mackay and maybe it was just as well that it fell victim to the restrictions as Ian had enlisted Alan Durno to skip the rink and I’m not sure my alcohol capacity quite matches Alan’s !
Another regret was not getting back to the Nairn Dinner. I had deputised for Past President Brian McArtney the year before and survived and was looking forward to a return visit.
Another disappointment was the necessary postponement of Dundonald Curling Club’s 200th Anniversary celebrations, the more so as Dundonald is one of my own clubs.
However, my greatest regret was not being able to be in Calgary when Team Mouat won silver and again, closer to home in Aberdeen when Jennifer Dodds and Bruce Mouat took gold in the Mixed Doubles.
Huge congratulations to Bruce, Grant, Bobbie and Hammy, not forgetting Ross, Alan Hannah and all the back-up team for representing Scotland so magnificently in Canada and to Bruce and Jen likewise in Aberdeen.
Although the Olympic selections have not been announced it would be a major surprise if they don’t go forward to represent Team GB in Beijing.
Fingers crossed that our women’s team will succeed in the Olympic Qualifying Event later in the year. I’m sure they will.
With no curling there were only a few presentations to be done but I was delighted to hand over the Grass Roots Coach of the year last year to one of my local Ayr curlers, Bob Forrest. More recently, I was able to hand over a 100 year medal to my Mother Club, Troon Portland and just this past week I was able to present Jim Dunlop from the Crosshill Club in Ayrshire with his medal for 50 years continuous membership.
Well done again to them and to all the individuals and clubs being acknowledged today.
While I have not been gallivanting around the country nor able to support our teams abroad I have had to become used to attending meetings on line. It’s just not the same as being able to meet face to face but another necessary result of the Covid restrictions.
The first issue that was tackled after last year’s AGM was when and where it was appropriate to use the Royal Caledonian Curling Club and / or Scottish Curling logos and branding.
A working group was set up and a membership survey was carried out. This generated an excellent response from the members and it became clear that both names had a place with the Royal Caledonian Curling Club being most appropriate on membership matters and Scottish Curling most appropriate for marketing.
That’s maybe simplifying the result a little but it was also very clear that the name, the history and the traditions of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club are quite unique and to be highly valued. I would urge Bruce, the staff and you, the members of this club, not to fall into the habit of assuming everything is Scottish Curling and by so doing, diminish the Royal Caledonian Curling Club by default.
Another working group was set up as a result of the angst last year over selection policy. Susan Kesley chaired this group which brought together both sides of the discussion and the manner in which she was able to bring harmony augers well for her year as President.
A joint ASC / LSC meeting was held in November at which Jim Cullen gave a presentation on the Structure Review and membership webinars followed in April. As a result of the feedback the only thing that is clear is that there is no consensus on the way forward.
On the whole there has not been a great deal for the Area Standing Committee to discuss this year but I’ve kept the Reps updated as best I can.
Unfortunately, the ASC was not consulted over the proposed changes to the Memorandum and Articles being proposed by the Board today. Had they been, perhaps some of the pitfalls could have been avoided and we would not have had the situation which developed last week with the Reps penning an open letter to the Board.
Frankly, in a membership organisation as we are, there is something far wrong when those representing the members feel the need to take the action they did. I hope the Board recognise this.
I am sure that there were no ulterior motives when the proposals were drawn up. After all, we elect six of the directors from amongst ourselves.
I might suggest a lack of foresight perhaps, as evidenced by the need to subsequently issue the Frequently Asked Questions information and, as I’ve said to Bruce and Chairman Graham, sometimes communication, while factually correct, comes across as being dismissive.
We need to reset the tone of our communication efforts to carry the membership with the decisions being taken by the Board although I would say that the Board have been trying harder this year to engage with the wider membership.
Successive Boards though have failed to engage with the ASC and the LSC. Unless that changes, it won’t make any difference what finally comes out of the Structure Review as the body to represent the members.
It is a great pity that we have landed back where we were last year at the AGM with the Board on the receiving end of criticism for a lack of consultation.
Whatever happens with the voting later we need to move on. We have a huge problem on our hands encouraging curlers back on the ice come the Autumn.
Our numbers are falling year on year and I suspect that many in our aging membership profile may well just call it a day after having had a year out.
We have the Olympics coming up but we cannot simply rely on a membership bounce from them and I was pleased that the Board recognise the need for a marketing campaign. We need to be a lot more proactive than we have been in the past if we are to put the brakes on the falling membership numbers.
I would be telling a lie if I said that I’ve had a great year as your President. It has been a huge honour though and there was nothing any of us could have done to change things. Hopefully, next year will be better, if not exactly back to the way it was before.
It is a new era for curling with Susan stepping up as the first female President of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. She won’t be the last, I’m sure.
Susan brings a huge amount of quite different knowledge and experience to the position from her involvement with the WCF and competing internationally and I am sorry that we haven’t had the chance to do more together this past year.
I have absolutely no doubt that Susan will be a great ambassador for our sport assisted by either Trevor Dodds or Mike Ferguson, two outstanding candidates for Vice President.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Immediate Past Ladies Branch President Corrie Lawrence for her support, the coffees and all the chats over the past two years, not forgetting the bottle of Merlot delivered to my door this morning.
Congratulations to Lilian Carnegie on taking on the mantle as Ladies Branch President and to Alison Taylor and Maureen Parker, her Vice Presidents. I wish you well Ladies.
Thanks too to the ladies and the gents on the ASC. It has been a difficult year and I have valued your support and input throughout.
Finally, the Board is due our gratitude. Most of them are curlers like you and I. They are there trying to put something back into curling. They put in many hours and make decisions with the best of intentions. Thank you Graham and team for all that you do for the sport.
That concludes my President’s Report, Ladies and Gentlemen and I would now hand over to Graham Lindsay to chair the business meeting.
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