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Chairman’s report to the 30th Annual General Meeting

Sunday 29 November 2009, 11.00am

The 30th Annual General Meeting of Stoolball England was held in the Renshaw Room at Wivelsfield Village Hall, near Haywards Heath, West Sussex on Sunday 29 November 2009 at 11am.

Congratulations to Bluebells Stoolball Club

I am delighted to open my report for 2009 by congratulating Bluebells Stoolball Club on becoming the very first club to achieve recognition under Stoolball England’s Club Accreditation Scheme. This recognition is well deserved and credit must go to John and Sybil Voller, Delia Saunders and members of the Bluebells Committee for the work they put into completing their application. The parents of young players and adult newcomers joining their club can be assured that they have the correct documents, standards and policies in place to provide a safe environment to play stoolball.

We are eager that more clubs should take steps to achieve official Club Accreditation and we know that there are a number of clubs already working in this direction. Application forms and advice are available from Kevin Hilliard (01403 259617) for those who feel ready to make the move.

Recognition of Stoolball England as the governing body of stoolball

Having submitted our revised application for governing body recognition in March this year, it is most disappointing to tell you that due to yet another reorganisation within Sport England, our application is still sitting in a pile of similar applications awaiting assessment. Our contact in Sport England explained to us that due to our name change, our application would only need to be looked at by Sport England and not Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, so the assessment period would be quicker! As soon as we have some news, we will pass it on to you.

Our relations with County Sports Partnerships

For the last five years or more, it has been very clear that it is important to build up sound relationships with the Sports Partnerships in all those counties where stoolball is played. In the last 12 months, we have built relationships with Active Surrey, which is based in Guildford, and Kent Sports Development Unit from West Malling.

However, when funding to these groups were cut by the Government at the end of March, Surrey in particular found it very difficult to maintain a pattern of regular forums with governing bodies because a number of their group, including their manager, left for pastures new. This caused an abrupt halt to the relationship we were beginning to build. In Kent, the organisation is more under the control of the county council and we have had an encouraging meeting with the County Sports Development Manager who is very keen to develop stoolball in their schools.

In Sussex due to the Government cuts, the Sussex County Sports Partnership Trust had their staff numbers reduced by nearly half (from 14 to 8 staff) and as a result we have now been asked to make a contribution towards the services that they can provide for us. Naturally this was a shock to us because we are the only governing body they deal with which is not funded by Sport England! We have given up trying to work out the logic of this situation.

On a more encouraging note, I am pleased to tell you that Partnership Development Managers (PDMs) who are responsible for all the state-run secondary and junior/primary schools in their counties have been asked to draw up priority listings of sports under two work strands of Physical Education and Sports Strategy for Young People (PESSYP). In the primary list were basketball, badminton, tennis, swimming, rugby, gymnastics, netball and cricket, whilst in the second list stoolball appears alongside hockey, table tennis, golf, cycling, exercise, movement and dance.

This is particularly good news for us because a key strand of PESSYP is the funding stream called “Sport Unlimited and School Competitions”. We shall work very hard to ensure that we get our fair share of funding to continue the development of stoolball in schools. This news makes it even more important that all clubs work hard to build good relationships with the schools in their area. When we fill in the application forms for school funding, one of the most important sections is that relating to “exit routes”, ie those funding the initiative need to know that there are clubs in the vicinity willing to take youngsters and help them progress in stoolball.

In Hampshire, this was an undeveloped area with contacts still to make. However, during the summer we made contact with two ladies who play for Surrey clubs and are based in PDM offices in Hampshire (Havant and the Aldershot area), plus another PDM at The Petersfield School who plays for Graffham. So time permitting, we believe we can start to work in Hampshire and begin with schools in the Petersfield area if not further afield.

Coaching in primary and junior schools – test market

I am pleased to tell you that the stoolball coaching programme carried out during the summer term in six Horsham schools was a considerable success with a total of 517 children, from Year 4 (66), Year 5 (294) and Year 6 (157) taking part. The culmination of this programme was a highly successful festival held at the beautiful Horsham Cricket Ground where 16 teams playing in 4 groups took part. There were trophies for the winners of each group, winners and runners-up certificates and also certificates for everyone participating.

My sincere thanks to Becky Hull and Ruth Arthur for all their excellent coaching and organisation at the Horsham schools, and to Natalie Jagota, a multisport coach from Horsham Leisure Link for her coaching and funding support. We were also indebted at the festival to Doris and Keith Younger, Fred Newland, Jim Barnes (Barns Green Stoolball Club) and Sarah Reeves (Oakwood Hill Stoolball Club) for umpiring the games, and Val Oakes (Forest Green Stoolball Club) and Natalie Jagota for their scoring services.

Sussex Girls’ Under 14 Championship 2009

The first ever Sussex Girls’ Under 14 Stoolball Championship was held at the Waterhall in Brighton on the hottest day of the year in July. 12 teams took part in two sections of 6, comprising Warden Park, Millais, Cardinal Newman, Ratton, Robertsbridge and Beacon in Pool A, and Oathall, Hazelwick, Uplands, Longhill, Ringmer and Dorothy Stringer in Pool B. We were particularly grateful to Dorothy Stringer School who provided a team at short notice when another team dropped out.

In an excellent and closely fought final, Ratton from Eastbourne beat Oathall, Haywards Heath, while Beacon from Crowborough beat Ringmer in the 3rd/4th place play-off. Next year, the format will be changed to cover girls at under 13 and under 15 level and provisional dates have been organised for 23 June (under 13) at a venue to be arranged, and 1 July (under 15) again at the Waterhall.

Level one coaching course

Stoolball England held a very successful Level One coaching course at Greenway School in Horsham in March with 21 people attending from clubs and organisations across Hampshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex. The course tutor was Helen Murdock from Surrey and plans are in hand for further courses.

Stoolball equipment and the schools voucher schemes

During our Horsham schools’ coaching programme this summer, only half of them had any stoolball equipment (mainly bats) but it was very interesting to learn that at one school alone, 60,000 sports equipment vouchers had been collected from the Tesco and Sainsbury initiatives. Therefore it became imperative that we make efforts to ensure that our equipment is included in their 2010 catalogues, so that schools can redeem their vouchers and get stoolball equipment.

In order to rectify the situation, Stoolball England submitted applications to Tesco and Sainsbury in August (they were both due to review their catalogues in September) and made a case for the inclusion of Stoolball. Last week, we heard from Sainsbury that our application had been successful, but to date there has been nothing from Tesco.

BingoLotto on hold/curtailed

After much hard work by the Central Council of Physical Recreation (CCPR) working with ISG (the owners of BingoLotto), it was very disappointing to report that it has ceased after on a month on our TV screens. Everybody, Stoolball England included, was hopeful that this initiative would bring much needed money in sport, but sadly the response was not sufficient to allow BingoLotto to continue.

Audrey “Fritz” Ambrose

It is with sadness that I report the death of Audrey Ambrose (known to everyone in the stoolball world as Fritz) earlier this month. She was born in Laughton and played her stoolball initially in Laughton, but then moved to Ringmer where she spent many years, firstly playing for Ringmer, but latterly helping with the club’s junior team with Daphne Hunt. They were a formidable partnership. Fritz also umpired for Ringmer and was Treasurer for a large number of years for the Sussex County Umpires Association until her retirement two years ago. Stoolball England and many friends from Sussex County were present at her funeral at Eastbourne Crematorium. She will be greatly missed.

Keith Younger

In previous years, I have mentioned the excellent work that Keith Younger from the East Grinstead Club has done for everybody playing our game in refurbishing both stoolball bats and wickets. He has not only continued this work despite not enjoying the best of health, but he has also found time, together with his wife, Doris, to umpire at the Schools Festival of Stoolball in July at Horsham.

Incredibly, if all this wasn’t enough, Keith has recently embarked on a programme of making a considerable number of brand new wickets with metal bases for Stoolball England. True to tradition, these wickets look superb and will be a lasting monument to Keith and his exceptional skills. My sincere thanks go to Keith for his enormous contribution to stoolball and to Doris for her understanding and support.

New clubs

I am delighted to report that we should be seeing three new clubs playing mixed stoolball next season. They are Burgess Hill, East Hoathly and Cowfold. Burgess Hill were formed after playing in an invitation match against Horsham District Council in Horsham Park, while East Hoathly and Cowfold have reformed after folding several years ago. Stoolball England were delighted to be able to help them back to life.

Your committee – my thanks

John and Barbara Fitzpatrick are not standing for re-election at the AGM this year. We shall miss their contributions on all matters relating to marketing and umpiring as well as stoolball in general. We wish them well and my sincere thanks for all they have done over the last 3 years.

At the AGM last year, we were very pleased to welcome Trevor Parsons from the Adastra Club at Keymer as our new Treasurer and it is very clear that he is enjoying his new role as he starts to make new contacts and gets to grips with all matters relating to our funds. He is keen, enthusiastic and a good person to work with.

To Kevin Hilliard, Michael Ledwich, Rick Mason, Melissa Mantle and Toni Wheatley, my sincere thanks for the contributions they have made on so many fronts from club accreditation, insurance, website, publicity, coaching and promotional materials as well as the meetings they have contributed to. All this has been achieved at a time when there has been huge pressure on them on their work or domestic fronts, or both. This is not an easy world for grass roots volunteers to survive.

My thanks too to all our stoolball agents who have produced our best sales of stoolball equipment ever at a time when additional income will come in very useful when our coaching manual and trifold publicity leaflet go to print.

Shirley Reed, our President, has been, as always, totally supportive and a pleasure to work with. She brings a calm, positive and reassuring presence to all our meetings and I do not know what we would do without her.

Finally, in an incredibly busy year on all fronts, both home and abroad, my thanks to Kay who has worked tirelessly to make everything happen. In the New Year, we are off to Kandy, Sri Lanka to coach stoolball at Hillwood College for Girls and we are very much looking forward to it.

Have a good Christmas and all the very best for 2010.

John Price
Chairman, Stoolball England
9 November 2009

Tags: agm, meetings