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Friday 20 November 2015, 7.45pm

As expected John has been a hard act to follow. I hope that I have done a satisfactory job as Chairman this year. There has been one or two faux-pas but with the supreme help of all the committee, we have achieved most of the things we set out to do.

For over 25 years we have been obtaining the best possible insurance terms for every stoolball club.

For the same amount of time, we have been ensuring that the available stoolball equipment is plentiful and of acceptable quality. We are able to supply this equipment to stoolball clubs at a favourable rate.

Every year we run summer academies in the Horsham and Wealden areas.

We organise Sussex Schools competitions for Years 7/8 and 9/10 and also run Primary School tournaments.

We supply loan equipment to schools that want to start up stoolball.

We regularly attend sporting festivals all over Sussex and beyond when invited to.

We organize Coaching, Umpires and Scoring courses for those wishing to partake.

We had to change insurance brokers during the season which has brought a huge amount of disruption to the usual smooth running of insurance procedures. Our insurance officer has made a number of long distance visits to our new brokers to formulate an arrangement that is satisfactory to us and will be the basis of our schemes for the future. This is the reason for the proposed constitutional changes to our classes of membership. Thank you Michael for your dedicated work on this front.

We have been working this year with Gray Nicholls and Safari on the supply and quality of bats and balls. We have worked with Factory Eleven and Peter Gray to come up with sets of wickets that are light enough and interesting enough for use in primary schools. Anita has also been working with Gray Nicholls to set up a Stoolball England webshop.

Once again, Stoolball England has managed the Sussex Schools Year 7/8 and Sainsbury’s School Games Year 9/10 competitions. Both were held in “blazing” July. A fine standard of stoolball was exhibited at both events which bodes well for new players to enter the senior ranks in the coming years. Both competitions were won by Oathall School, Burgess Hill with Ringmer Community College, gallant runners-up in both.

Further afield, loan equipment has been delivered to a school in Winslow, Buckinghamshire and to one in Kent near Sittingbourne well outside the usual Kent playing area. Stoolball has continued to be played in the West Midlands and also this year, on the beaches of St. Michael’s Mount, Cornwall.

Our Welfare Officer has been busy this year. I must emphasise that by being affiliated to Stoolball England, all leagues and associations should have their own Welfare Officer to deal with issues before the need to consult the governing body.

This season, Newick Stoolball Club have embarked on getting “Clubmark” accreditation. “Clubmark” is Sport England’s Quality Club Accreditation Scheme. An accredited club is recognised as a safe, rewarding and fulfilling place for participants of all ages, as well as helping parents and carers know that they are choosing the right club for their young ones. Newick are getting close to accreditation. I would encourage all clubs to consider working towards “Clubmark” accreditation.

We have been short of volunteers this year to help us with the events that we are asked to support. Consequently, we had to pull out of a couple of long-standing commitments. However, the events we were able to attend attracted huge interest. The two I will pick out are the “Uckfield Sport for All” and the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum’s “Woodfair”. A huge thank you to the committee members and those volunteers that supported our events this year.

There has been much work by Rick Mason and myself to keep our website and Facebook up-to-date and relevant, but there are some glaring omissions in the information we provide. Same leagues have all their club contacts, fixtures, results and analysis on the website: thank you West Kent, some have few details. Can I ask all leagues to have a look at the website and please provide us with the missing details.

We are being asked by various councils, notably Rother District and Hastings Borough Councils for information on which teams play on which grounds, so they can complete their “Playing Pitch Strategies”. These sorts of request will increase because of our recognition as the national governing body.

For the 4th year, we have organised “England XI v President’s XI” games and again they were very successful. A big thank you to all volunteers without whose help, the day could not take place. A number of points have been raised about the day. Firstly, there was disappointment with the playing surface at HCC. We will be exploring alternative venues for next year. We had some feedback about the names and make-up of the two teams. When Stoolball England was recognised by Sport England as the NGB, we were asked to hold a prestige game each year. We chose “England XI v President’s XI”. Both teams should be evenly balanced with batters and bowlers evenly distributed through both teams. We will be re-visiting our selection criteria for next year.

The future will hopefully include the digitisation of all our stoolball records and photographs. We will be asking you all if you would be able to lend us important documents and photographs, so we can expand our digital archive. We might be able to share with Netball England, who are also starting a digital archive. Joint projects with other NGB’s can only raise our profile.

Finally, Kay, our Secretary is retiring at the AGM this year after over 30 years of sterling service to Stoolball England and the National Stoolball Association before that. I would like you all to join with me in thanking Kay for her hard and dedicated work and wishing her the best for her retirement. We will be doing ‘something special’ next year for both Kay and John in recognition of their work, but don’t tell them though, it’s a secret!

Richard Emsley – November 2015