It gives me great pleasure to render my first Annual Report as Chairman of this historic Club.
The membership has continued to hold up, with a figure of 887 on going to print compared to 890 last year. This is encouraging noting the diminishing size of the officer corps, but further Service reductions following the SDSR will inevitably take their toll in the years ahead, and the Committee is looking urgently at ways in which we might offset this, by widening the appeal off the Club to encourage new members.
An indication of the challenge involved with this has been the disappointingly low attendance at Dinners in 2010/11. Only 274 members and their guests dined in the course of the year compared to an average of 364 over the preceding 4 years. Whether this is a temporary trough or not remains to be seen, as the 2 dinners thus far in 2011/12 have attracted 136 members, including a capacity turnout for the June Dinner in HMS VICTORY. What seems clear from this is that location and an opportunity to dine 'afloat' are important and valued. As a consequence, the Committee has decided to break with tradition in 2012 and have the June dinner onboard an HM Ship alongside in Devonport. Members, and notably those in the South West who might not usually make the long journey to London dinners, are asked to give this event their fullest support.
Having held the dinner charges steady for a number of years, the Committee has finally had to yield to the pressures of costs and there will be a modest increase in charges of £5 from October 2011 as detailed on the dinner card. In tandem, the Committee has decided to leave subscriptions unchanged for at least another year.
Members will be interested to know that both the General and Surplus Funds remain in reasonable shape despite inflation and market turbulence, and the Club's charitable purpose continues to bring support to a number of very deserving individuals. Details of the Independent Examiner's reports on the Club's Funds are accessible through the Club's web-site.
I would re-emphasise to members the appeal not to resign when they are no longer able to dine for whatever reason, but instead to bear in mind that their modest subscriptions do help support the Club's very worthy charitable work. Members are asked to let the Secretary know of any changes of rank, address (particularly email addresses) and to report deaths of members.
Finally, I am extremely grateful to the Secretary, John Hall,
for his help and guidance in this, my first year as Chairman. It is also appropriate that I highlight the sterling work of the members of the Committee, who give of their time and effort on behalf of the Club in many unsung but effective ways.
Admiral Sir Ian Forbes