Working group image

As many members are aware the lease on our current premises expires in 2021. The Premises Working Group has been tasked with looking at all our options.

In May we met with Kylie Walsh, the new Executive Manager, Community Arts and Culture at Northern Beaches Council at her request to brief Council on our needs. At this meeting Kylie explained Northern Beaches Council had employed consultants to look at current and future community centre needs. Kylie said Council would advise within 6 months the future of the Nelson Heather Centre.

In the meantime we are keeping alert to any opportunity for suitable premises. Clearly a key issue for us is accessible transport and parking.

I spoke last month to you about the importance of preparing for the future security of our Clubhouse.

It has been wonderful to hear back from you, and that you are overwhelmingly in support of this strategic direction. Thank you to all of you who took the time and interest to communicate your support, questions and suggestions for future savings.

The decision to no longer issue winner’s tickets is one part of a broader review of the club’s finances, to ensure that we continue to add to our surplus.

bridge education image

Our bridge education has been and is a critical activity for our club, essential for the ongoing renewal of our club, and for maintaining our vibrant member body and promoting our game. It has been instrumental in our change from a club with declining membership more than five years ago to one that now has stable, stronger membership trends.

Some members have raised the question of how our bridge education activities are managed and accounted for. 

The direction, scope and course fees of our bridge education program are agreed between the Committee and the Bridge Education Sub-Committee every six months. This year for example we reduced the number of beginners classes in favour of more courses focused on our improver players. This shift probably contributed to our club membership falling slightly this year in contrast to growth in recent years.

Volunteer hand image

The club runs on the contributions of a large number of members. As we have been reviewing our expenses and the way we manage our activities, I am impressed at how much different people do to help our club be as good as it is. We don't yet have a full list of the different contributors and their contributions, but I am convinced that the size of some of these contributions are largely unknown to our overall membership. For some of the roles, possibly only the persons who have held the role previously can comprehend the amount of time, effort and responsibility involved.

Take for example the House Manager role, currently filled by Bill Fitzsimons. In recent months a sample of things I am aware that Bill has been involved in, completely on a voluntary basis, include:

Image of Dept of Infrastructure

Club members will have heard of the grant money we received as part of the federal Stronger Communities Program. We received $7,500 plus GST to be used to fund 50% of $15,000 in eligible spending on bridge equipment to improve the club. We are pleased to note (as we are required to do) that “This project received grant funding from the Australian Government.”

We would also like to note the huge voluntary time commitments that planning and implementing these purchases involved from the Committee and others, and particularly from Bill Fitzsimons, Ken Watson and David Farmer.

We have used this grant money as follows:

Image of GST preparation

Recent changes have triggered some discussion among members at the club, including on the need for us to have registered for GST.

To help this discussion be more informed we have attached two papers that the ABF commissioned when GST was introduced and later when the GST thresholds were revised.

Photo of mobility access permit

Thanks to the Benevolent Society who run the Meals on Wheels service opposite the Club, we are able to offer reservations for our mobility challenged players after 12 noon weekdays for eight of the spaces reserved for their volunteer delivery drivers. These eight spaces comprise the five left-most spaces and the three right-most spaces when facing Meals on Wheels (leaving the four centre spaces available for their volunteers to use when returning from their deliveries).

This is a favour to our club's members and it is important that we use it considerately. It is an opportunity for us to help our members with severe mobility issues.

Photo of man alone on bench

The club continues to support visitors and other players who find themselves unexpectedly without a partner at a number of its sessions: Monday afternoons (Green section only), Wednesday afternoons, Wednesday evenings, Friday afternoons and Friday evenings. We also welcome unpartnered players at all of our supervised sessions.

We have started keeping records of the unpartnered players at these sessions and there are many. While we encourage these players to proactively arrange for their own partners, we are glad when we can help those who unexpectedly find themselves partnerless.