My last statement was my first as Chairman (this time around), but three months on, I can report that together with my team, we are beginning to drive some new initiatives to completion for the benefit of the club and its members.
Some of these are part of a bigger vision of where the club is going, and I will be calling a clubhouse meeting very shortly, where I will endeavour to communicate that vision, so we can all try and move forward together in a common direction.
Having flown at many other clubs in the UK, I am always impressed by what a great club Southdown is and indeed others that visit other clubs for some flying can appreciate that even more.
We operate from an airfield that we own, with equipment (flying and otherwise) that is the envy of many other clubs in the UK, but it is what we do with it that makes the difference. Utilised effectively, these assets can bring great enjoyment, and none more that on the recent ‘Longest Day’ celebration where almost 80 flights were flown from Parham, including some early winch launching, excellent breakfast, good soaring and some long cross country flights by pilots of all experience levels. The day was rounded off by a first-class social evening with well over 50 people enjoying our first big party in the wonderful new clubhouse.
Afterwards, a few members asked why we can’t do these kind of days every weekend. I share their enthusiasm but have to say that such a day requires a large amount of work by a small band of volunteers behind the scenes to whom we owe a huge debt of thanks. I was in Tesco’s in Pulborough at 7:30am, buying extra food & drink for the evening with my club hat on and was asked by the cashier if we planned to fly today. I was able to tell her that I had already flown at 6:30am and that I was not the first flight of the day..!.
So, whilst the weather gods smiled on us on Saturday 22nd, the last month or so has been miserable for the club and its members. It is certainly not a repeat of 2018, sadly. This makes nobody more unhappy than our club treasurer, who still has all the bills to pay, whilst seeing very little income flowing in the door.
Our flying is critical for our club to remain healthy, and we need to do more of it. A few early initiatives some of which are quite small, will help us in this respect, for I prefer to bring these kind of improvements rather than to simply increase fees, which really is a last resort.
Most members will be aware of the planning work to add a briefing room (from this point onwards to be known as a classroom) at the club. The design is complete and I will share details in the upcoming clubhouse meeting. I have to report, however, that we have currently put this project on hold, as I feel it would take our cash position to an uncomfortable low level after many years of investment. Instead, I have asked our ex-treasurer, Alan Haimes, to attempt to seek some external funding for this project and I am pleased to say he has accepted the challenge, difficult though it will be. If successful, we hope to recommence this project and start construction in the Spring of next year.
By Craig Lowrie