The Royal Navy Club of 1765 and 1785 (United 1889)
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Chairman's Annual Report - 2017

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It is a pleasure to render my Annual Report for Financial Year (FY) 2016/2017; my first as your Chairman.

Overview

In what has been a good year for our Club, some important changes introduced under my predecessor’s chairmanship were consolidated. Key amongst these is the welcome inclusion of spouses and partners at June dinners, which is now well established and popular. A successful dining programme was delivered, with numbers 20% higher than in the previous year. Membership remains strong, above 800, and recruitment of new members in recent months has been particularly healthy due to a vigorous campaign fronted by our Secretary. Charitable objectives were met in full with 7 memorialists supported. Both the Surplus and General Club Funds remain in good shape.

Activity.

Governance. The programmed reduction in Committee membership from 23 to 9 should be completed by the end of this current year, and the simplified application and joining process for potential members is working well. A proposal to include retired Lt Cdrs (who have commanded at sea) in the membership will be discussed at this year’s AGM, which will take place immediately before the October dinner. The establishment of a Royal Navy Club annual prize for the best performing student at the Command Qualification 2 (CQ2) Board (the current day equivalent of sea command exams which members will remember with fondness!), was sealed with the first prize being awarded at the 2017 Founders day dinner. The First Sea Lord presented a smart, boxed brass sextant to Lt Cdr Louise Ray, who joined the Club that day. An option for members to receive their annual mailings by email will be available for those interested from next year (2018), which will help to reduce office costs. Please notify the Secretary should you wish to take-up this option.

Membership. I’m pleased to report that membership continues to be strong and well above 800, although sadly some have crossed the bar. Exact numbers are difficult to tie down with some members cancelling their direct debits without informing the Secretary alongside some annoying banking errors. All require time consuming chasing by the Secretary. Applications for membership were strong in 2017, with several recent initiatives bearing fruit. Despite the inevitability of gently declining numbers, consistent with a shrinking Fleet and officer corps, we should remain optimistic for growth since if we could recruit just half of those eligible each year the downward slope in membership would be reversed. Current members expounding the advantages of membership to those eligible is always helpful. In the same vein, for members who may be considering their membership, I would appeal, as my predecessor did last year, for consideration not to tender resignation since their modest subscriptions help support the Club’s charitable work.

Dinners. Total attendance at our dinners in FY 2016/17 at 250 was slightly above average and 20% more than the previous year. Based on the previously agreed 3 dinners per year, the FY 2016/17 dinner programme started with a magnificent June evening on board the RY BRITANNIA with 94 diners including wives and partners of those who wished. Next year will see dinners in London, Liverpool and Portsmouth.

Surplus and General Fund.

The Surplus Fund continues in excellent shape, finishing the FY with a surplus. Managed by Quilter Cheviot in their third year with us, investments are performing satisfactorily. Support for seven memorialists has been maintained, with scope for more. I urge all members to bring to the notice of the Secretary anyone who is in need of support and eligible to be a memorialist. The General Fund is equally healthy and all dinners continue to see high standards with costs to members cushioned through modest Club subsidies. Those keen enough to scrutinise the audited accounts will note that there was a somewhat “false” deficit recorded due entirely to the re-alignment of annual subs collection with the new financial year in April. In reality, there was an actual cash surplus of some £3000, of which a third will be transferred to the Surplus Fund. With dining and socialising together as our main raison d’etre, I would ask that you try and support at least one dinner each year if at all possible.

The approved and signed Independent Examiner’s reports on both the accounts are accessible through the Club web site.

Summary

A pleasing year in which the Club achieved both its general and charitable aims in full, whilst remaining in a sound financial position with all three dinners being entertained by interesting and informed speakers. The modest changes to governance are almost complete and will ensure that our Club remains vibrant and relevant. As noted last year, the now well-balanced dinner programme of 3 per year allows Founders’ day to remain in London and the other 2 occasions to be split between Portsmouth and the regions thereby ensuring a sensible spread of venues to match the geographical location of our membership. Next year, for our northern colleagues, it will be in Liverpool.

Members are asked to report to the Secretary changes of rank, address, (especially email addresses), deaths of brother officers etc in order to help him in his support of you all. Additionally, he continues to make more use of our excellent web site with regular notices and useful information, at www.royalnavyclub.org. Please view it as often as possible. Email correspondence continues to be expanded to those who have access in order to further reduce office costs and to communicate more effectively with members.

In summary, our Club remains in very good order and I have been delighted to be your Chairman. I very much hope that the Club’s focus will continue to be on encouraging the maximum possible membership and high quality dinner evenings. I much look forward to seeing and meeting you at the AGM and future Club dinners.

 

Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope GCB OBE DL
Chairman