By Craig Lowrie
To believe that less than one month ago I updated the membership on all the ambitious plans that we had for 2020. All the key elements of this were progressing well and yet surprisingly we now find ourself in a very different world.
The club is faced with large and unprecedented challenges as the Coronavirus spread from the east and it began to impact the United Kingdom from the middle of March onwards.
Your committee has had to digest and find solutions to a whole new set of problems and challenges.
The club AGM which was planned for the 28th of March clearly could not happen and the printing of the annual reports became a pointless exercise and fortunately we were able to cancel both of these activities without any financial impact to the club. Finding an alternative solution to the AGM however took some thought but the approach that was finally taken seems to be working well and was the most appropriate given the circumstances we now find ourselves in.
The operational decisions regarding flying was clearly challenging most especially in the area of two-seater operation where social distancing was difficult. Your committee initially put some restrictions on our continued operation but the pace at which things in the UK were deteriorating made it appropriate following a late meeting on Sunday 22nd to decide to close the club completely. Only in the second World war has our club being forced to close its doors completely and this puts the magnitude of what we have decided to do into context. Some clubs decided to carry on after we closed and were subsequently forced too close shortly afterwards as the government strengthened its isolation policy. I am proud that we took the correct decision ourselves rather wait to be told what to do.
Despite the club being closed there is still a surprisingly number of things that must get done and we have moved quickly in the early stages of the isolation period and have completed a number of key projects before mobility restrictions became enforced. These include the cutting and rolling of the field, the pruning of the large conifer hedge to the east of the car park and cutting of the Grass in front of the clubhouse. In addition, we have inhibited the engines of the tow planes and motorglider to prevent corrosion which could impact our ability to Open the Club smoothly in the future.
Beyond these operational projects your Committee have been busy behind the scenes considering the financial steps that should be taken to minimise damage to the club whilst flying income is completely absent. I have financially modelled our Club operation in detail, enabling a number of scenarios to be considered and have to report that the situation is really not good. We are on course to post the largest Financial loss in the history of the club even after a number of mitigating steps have been taken.
Although flying income has gone our membership income is the most critical thing to preserve during this period yet we recognise that some members may have being financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. To that end your committee has created a program which you may choose to opt into which allows you to extend the renewal dates for your membership by three months. Clearly this initiative negatively impacts the club still further but we prefer that you stay a member as supposed to leaving the club completely. We would request that members who don’t need this facility do not request it.