Minutes of the Cotswold Area Civil Service Association AGM – 12 June 2023
Alan Brown (Chair), Charlie Mills, James Nattrass (Vice Chairman and Golf), Gareth Edwards (Treasurer), Roger Nicholls (President), Neville Thomas (Manager), Richard Booth (Bar Manager), Robyn Evans (Hockey), Philip Boden (Sailing), Jim McGeough (Rugby), Steve Hawkins (Tennis), Martin Williams (Cricket), Jean Levy (Hockey), Josie Gibbons (Social Media Secretary), Tony Wegrzyn (Rugby), Rhys Topping (Lacrosse), Alan Wakefield (Secretary and Football), Carol Williams (Vice Chairman and Archery).
Apologies: Natalie Parry (CSSC), Polly Brown, Angie Atherton (Hockey), Wendy Eley (CSSC).
Alan welcomed everyone to the CACSSA Annual General Meeting and started by announcing that Josie Gibbons has agreed to join the Management Committee with responsibility for publicity and communications and has made a great start using social media to advertise forthcoming events; that Carol Williams taken over as Vice-Chair for Club aspects following the resignation of Paul Stickler, and that Charlie Mills has agreed to return to his role on the Finance sub-committee.
Looking back over the past 12 months we can be pleased at the progress that has been made, particularly in the face of the general financial difficulties across the country. Not only have we remained financially solvent but we have been able to make a number of small improvements to the facilities – new carpets in the Geoff hardy room, upgrades to the kitchen and to the toilets (thanks to a grant obtained by the rugby club); a new coffee machine and various other small improvements. A new bar contract has been negotiated, and we continue to obtain contracts for use of the facilities during the day by corporate bodies. This ensures we can continue to provide all the sports and leisure facilities that our members enjoy.
On the leisure front, it is good to see most of our annual events back on the calendar; Family Day will be held in July (so bring the family and enjoy the day); the annual fireworks evening was also a success last year despite the atrocious weather and is planned again for November.
Turning to sport, our various affiliated clubs continue to do well, both with results and with the number of members albeit with some reduction in overall numbers. It is good to see the rugby club bounce back after some difficulties last year; and, hopefully, everyone is now aware that we have been able to make it possible for ALL members of CACSSA to hire the squash courts for a game at certain times of the day. So, if you fancy trying out the sport, or just want the occasional friendly game, speak to Neville about hiring a court.
Turning to the future, our main focus at the moment is on the possible restructuring of the changing rooms to increase the number of separate rooms and to make the whole facility more appropriate for the mix of male, female and youth usage that we have. We are hoping that most of the cost of this will be covered by a grant that the football club are in the process of negotiating. There are also some other challenges for us to consider. We are all aware of the general increase in the cost of living; increased gas and electricity charges, increases in the cost of fertiliser for the field and a whole range of other products continues to be a focus of our attention. Fortunately, so far, owing to the excellent work of the staff and Treasurer, we are keeping our heads above water. The other main challenge is the difficulty we have in recruiting and keeping bar staff. This is a general problem across the hospitality industry so we would really appreciate help from the membership. If any member would like to take on a part-time job or know someone else who might be interested, please speak to Neville or Rich so that we can continue to provide the bar service our members have come to expect.
Finally, we are working with CSSC on a number of initiatives. Firstly, whereas in the past we have received an annual grant based on the number of members we have, a new system has been introduced whereby we are now required to bid for funds based on planned future events – such as the number of sporting events we organise, and the number of social activities we plan to arrange. This means that it is important for us to receive detailed information about each section’s upcoming season’s matches etc. Secondly, we are being asked to provide Risk Assessments for every activity; this even includes skittles matches and golf matches as well as the obvious events such as the annual fireworks evening. So please ensure this becomes part of your pre-match routine, if it isn’t already. Thirdly, CSSC are keen to ensure that, in the unlikely event that CACSSA becomes insolvent, individual members of the Management Committee are not held personally liable from a financial point of view. To achieve this, we may need to become a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) which is a legal construct used to protect individuals in such cases. Another option would be for CACSSA to be run directly from CSSC Head Office instead of by a local Management Committee which is why it is important for us to continue to get volunteers to take on Management Committee roles. Over the next few months we will be working with CSSC to progress this issue and will keep everyone informed of progress.
Summary of 2022 Accounts: Our accountant Tony Smith, who stepped into the role late last year, has again reviewed and where appropriate corrected our calculations.
As usual we present 2 accounts – club for our business interests and area to show how we spent the Membership Grant from CSSC.
On the club accounts, we made a trading profit of £10,263 in 2022. The club, therefore, had reserves of £155,563 at the end of the year.
Some headlines. On the income side, mainly because this was our first full year of COVID free accounting, room hire, sports facilities hire and bar trading totals all increased. The decision to use area account funding to support the fireworks event also helped boost income. Overall, income was up by £10K. On the expenditure side, as we expected, costs have increased across the board, most notably for the cleaning contract, ground maintenance (fertiliser) and Satellite TV; heating and lighting costs and rates have also increased but perhaps not by as much as we forecast. Overall expenditure was up by £16K.
On the area account, we received a CSSC grant of £20,453 in 2022. As always we aim to spend the entire grant whilst staying out of the red. To that end the Area Account held assets worth £3,121 at the end of the year and the Balance Sheet shows that over the year our income exceeded expenditure by £1,533.
As in 2021, it was not clear how much grant we were going to receive from CSSC until late in the year. In the event we chose to fund our sports clubs (in % terms) as close to 2021 levels as we could – £16,000 was spent on the sports subsidies, 80% of the total. On social events, James Nattrass spent £3,257. From now on we will be required to bid for all CSSC grant funding – our first bid to cover the second half of this year has been submitted and it remains to be seen how much we are allocated and whether or not we benefit from this change.
Looking forward we’re currently forecasting that we either break even or make a small profit in 2023. To help us, we recently received a welcome bonus of £18K from a successful Covid business interruption claim.
Finally, thanks to the volunteers, staff members and our sports clubs who gave contributed to these accounts and to Tony Smith for his work in ensuring the accounts have been subject to the appropriate level of scrutiny.
It’s been a good start to 2023 and the team and I are hoping to continue this success and build on last year. In addition to the repeat business, it’s encouraging to see new business for 2023.
Minor improvements have been made internally and externally, to enhance the clubhouse and grounds.
Whilst we continue to monitor and control our cost, sadly there are some that are out of our control. For example, our utilities are showing a significant increase of 45%, hence the investment of installing LED lights and proximity sensors. Can I ask that those clubs who have containers and huts are more vigilant, by ensuring electrical items and lights are turned off when not in use.
Please remind your members and guest that dogs are not permitted onsite. We have noticed an increase in members, opposition players and spectators bring dogs onsite.
The lack of staff continues to be a challenge, although we have recently recruited 2 new members to the bar team.
We continue to monitor our clubhouse summer trading hours and update our members via the website and social media.
After many years of Heineken being our brewery partner, the contract came to an end in February of this year. Having done a considerable amount of research on brand awareness, popularity and of course cost, we agreed a new 3-year deal with Carlsberg Marston’s and a rolling 1-year deal with Thatcher’s.
Family Fun Day Saturday 15th July
GingeFest Saturday 22nd July
Working with the Executive Committee a few changes have been made to the Constitution to ensure that it continues to accurately reflect our aims and objectives. The revised version is on the website and has been advertised to all CACSSA members. The Secretary summarised the changes made to the constitution. Those in attendance voted to accept the new constitution.
Election of Officers:
Alan explained that, although all current members are prepared to continue in post, we are always pleased to receive nominations from the floor for any of the positions on the committee. For example, Gareth is seeking support in the shape of an assistant treasurer; someone who can help with the general financial work and, perhaps, learn the ropes ready to take over as Treasurer at some stage in the future. He also explained that he is happy to remain as Chairman for another year, but must give notice that, by our next AGM, he will have been in post for 10 years and, at the age of 75, feels it is time to hand over the reins to someone from the younger generation.
The election of officers was agreed as follows:
Chairman Alan Brown
Vice Chairman to Club Carol Williams
Vice Chairman Membership/Liaison James Nattrass
Treasurer Gareth Edwards
Assistant Treasurer Vacant
Secretary Alan Wakefield
Membership Secretary Vacant
Comms and Social Media Secretary Josie Gibbons
President Roger Nicholls
Appointment of Qualified Accountant to Scrutinise Accounts:
Anthony Smith was appointed as the CACSSA Qualified Accountant, proposed by Gareth Edwards, seconded by Charlie Mills and passed unanimously by all in attendance.
Reports from Affiliated Clubs:
No Report from Archery
The cricket season is in full swing, albeit rain in April meant that it started later than expected and many early fixtures were cancelled as a result of the weather. Not something we can complain about in recent weeks, albeit the thunderstorms on Saturday took a little toll.
Results have been mixed, as have availabilities. The 1sts are back up in the Gloucestershire division of WEPL and are struggling again. Availability hasn’t been great and the strength in that league, where nearly everyone else has a paid player (or two), is high. The 2nds struggled out of the gate but have won their last two, while the 3rds won a game in May, which hasn’t happened for a few years.
The youth teams are flourishing and we are lucky to have 3 coaches and 2 team managers dedicated to the cause. We have also changed our evening cricket to play at a lower level, in the hope of encouraging more youngsters to play in adult evening cricket. Exams have got in the way to a certain degree but half the team was made up of under 16s during half term and we’re hoping for similar once exam season is out of the way. We are struggling to play Sunday fixtures, with either ourselves or opponents struggling to find a team. Again, maybe once school exams have passed we’ll find better availability there.
The new season saw the three men’s teams playing in higher leagues after they were all promoted the previous season. The First team finishing mid table in the County league on their return to this level. Reserves in their first season in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League and contended for the top three spot up until the last several games of the season when their challenge dropped off. The third team held their own in the Cheltenham League Division 1.
Ladies team were the big achievers of the season this year with a double victory in winning the Gloucestershire County League Division 2 and the Gloucestershire County Cup. Only missing out on a treble when the lost to the league division 1 champions in the league cup semi-final. Great job by the ladies.
A very poor run vets league this year which saw only eight games being played by the Vets team, but they finished in the top four of the league. The league needs a real revamp if it is to survive in our opinion.
Finally, the U15 youth team won the U15 league after a hotly contested season and they won it with a few games to spare.
So, to sum up it was a very successful season by anyone’s standard on the field of play. Congratulations to all the players in a very hard season.
Financially we have done well to keep club running in profit this season and added various bits of equipment to help with training and improve the look of the main pitch. We are always looking to improve things for the players and welcome any suggestions they have.
Again, the disappointing side of our club reared its ugly head again off the field and the committee was called upon to make more hard decisions regardless of some of the negative comments they receive. I believe they did an excellent job again this year and without their support there would be no football club. I would also like to give our thanks to CACSSA for their support during the season with our thanks to Neville, Martin and Rich for the work they do behind the scenes, although there were still issues along the way but hopefully we are moving back towards a fully functioning club again.
The report for 2023 looks very similar to previous AGM reports. The golf society has continued to deliver our full programme of events, with including our first day out of 2023 to The Herefordshire GC, which will be followed by trips to The Rolls of Monmouth and the Welcombe Club in July and September respectively.
However key trends continue to cause us challenges. The steady decline in our membership continues, despite a presence on the CSSC web pages and regular mailshots to Cotswold area members. This has encouraged some new members to pay the £6 joining fee but has rarely translated into actual participation.
A number of years ago, the society committee made a commitment to reduce the surplus we held in our accounts, to a baseline figure of around £1,500 in a carefully managed way. This has meant that by aiming to make a loss each year, on top of the grant from CACSSA, we have been able to offer our events at reasonable prices. However 2024 will see us hit our £1,500 baseline based on our forecast meaning we will not be able to offer the level of subsidy members are accustomed to without an increase in our grant. Coupled with the rising cost of golf, we find ourselves in a position where we will not be able to offer good courses at attractive rates.
The committee plan to address this by putting forward a comprehensive bid for additional funding to CACSSA to incorporate into the AA bid funding process for 2024. If approved, and funded by CSSC, we believe this will allow us to offer attractive, competitive and social golf to our membership and hopefully encourage greater numbers to sign up in 2024.
The hockey club has continued to put two teams into the mixed 6-a-side Hockey Fever leagues. We have played a number mixed 11-a-side friendlies, as well as entering two mens teams at Beeston. Unfortunately, there were insufficient ladies available to enter a ladies team at Beeston like we did last year.
We continue to use the Spond App to manage availability and team selection and also to arrange social events.
Our current membership is 32 men and 25 women, although the number of those actually playing regularly is quite a lot less than that.
The ethos of the club is to provide fun, social hockey and this year, as well as post-match drinks, club social events have included bouldering, a darts night at Flight Club in Cheltenham, laser tag and curry nights.
It’s been a fantastic year for Lacrosse, with the men’s team competing at new heights and the women’s team finishing higher than ever before.
The men’s team, following their promotion last year were competing in the South of England Division 1, the 7-14th top seeds in the entire region. Ambitions were to avoid relegation. Despite a small lull in the middle of the season and a few drop offs in membership, the men’s team managed to come second overall, earning promotion to the premiership due to the 1st place team not being eligible as a second team of a premiership side. We’ve opted to decline the offer this year, hoping to stay in division 1 to develop further and rebuild. If we are right for promotion, we’ll win it again. Elsewhere we were knocked out of the Flags competition in a tightly contested fixture against Purley Raptors, which ended 4-3 in extra time (we went on to beat Purley in the league 9-5). We also won the Cotswold Local League, retaining the trophy to fight another year.
The women’s team did quite a bit better. Having earned their first trophy since their conception in 2022, the women’s team had a new captain and a new height to reach for. Win it all. And they did. They beat perpetual trophy holders Bristol Bombers in the Invitational Cup Final, then in the Premiership and in the Indoor Tournament, making them undisputed South West Women’s Lacrosse Championship. A combination of great recruitment, great management and great players. They went on to compete versus the South East Division 1 winners, who cried off and made Cheltenham all round winners of the region.
In development we’ve been welcoming 12-16 year olds for the first time. Numbers have started slow but we will keep pushing on.
Next year sees big change for the club with Max stepping away from the Chair to captain the men’s team and Grace moving away from Captaincy to allow Chloe Wilson a chance to replicate the successes of this year.
Good teams, great club.
With the contact session now over (touch and walking rugby continue!) We can reflect on what has been a somewhat turbulent season, but as always, I’m optimistic for the new season.
After having to withdraw from the league, the season finished on a high, with Service and Norton combining as the Warpigs in the Cheltenham Combination minor cup. The joint side came together really well, and a victory over Cheltenham Tigers followed by Smiths in the final, resulted in an excellent cup win at Newlands. A great end to a somewhat ‘difficult’ season. More on Norton later.
The Ladies, whilst continuing to progress, unfortunately couldn’t pick up another win and finished bottom of their table, despite being possibly the only side to play all of their games. This has sadly resulted in relegation, with another interesting travel profile. However, the ladies have both bolstered their coaching set up and recruited well already for the new season.
We look forward to celebrating the cup win and our players who impressed the most at our awards evening at the club on Friday 23 June from 6.30. £15 including pizza and a live band!
It was also great to join the Sharks to celebrate their season recently, with another excellent season of rugby to remember. It was a great event and a fantastic BBQ with players and parents.
Next season we’ll have both U14s and U16s playing matches and we look forward to our girls at U13s continuing to develop (alongside other local clubs as part of Gloucester Hurricanes) Pitch side support for these games will be very welcome. We also look forward to the continued progression of our other age groups towards full matches. I’d also like to thank the new Sharks committee for all their efforts and welcome their plans for the future!
As I mentioned above, back to Norton. We had planned to re-enter the men’s RFUs leagues this year. Following the successful cup win, both clubs have continued to talk together and plan to work together next season for matches. Therefore, one club (TBD) will withdraw from the league and we will play together as a joint side. The intention that we will play home league games at Tewkesbury Road. We will also be able to use Norton’s ground for non-league games plus as an alternative venue for Sharks and Ladies matches. We are already combining for touch sessions and numbers have been very healthy across both clubs (we’re hoping that we’ll be able to keep the touch sessions going over the longer term).
Discussions have since led to further discussions about a club merger. The rugby committee is unanimous in its belief that this could be in the best long-term interest of the club. There is lots to work through over the next year. However, given the importance of this decision we will put this question to the rugby members at our clubs AGM on 27 June.
Our sailing programme in 2022 returned to the previous level before the pandemic & we enjoyed weekend cruises in June, July & September, entering crews into the Devon & Cornwall Police’s Brixham Regatta in May & the NCA Griffin Regatta in September.
It was pleasing to see another club member gain their Day Skipper ticket, with cruises booked with his colleagues. Other club members are pursuing RYA training to gain sailing qualifications & Day Skipper tickets, whilst navigation training has taken place in the club, to ensure we have continuity to deliver future sailing events. New members have joined the club & we continue to seek more.
We have a full programme of events planned for 2023, including social events again, & good attendance is anticipated for all events. Arrangements are progressing for members attendance at the Antigua Regatta in April 2024.
Membership is slightly down on previous years and currently stands at about 36 full members. We lost several players when the entire Premier League Team decided, en-block to leave and play their matches at another club.
Like most sports we struggle to attract new young players to the club, and the average age of the playing members is gradually rising, and quite high for such an active, explosive sport.
We currently run 4 monthly box leagues with 16 players taking part in regular squash. In the winter we are hoping that this may increase as the evenings draw in.
We, well Dave Bott, has run several different tournaments throughout the year culminating in the recently completed Club Championships. Three different competitions were competed for, the Veterans, a Plate competition and the main Club Championships. All were hotly contested, and well supported by the club members. A finals night was followed by a club social in the clubhouse.
Through the season, Dave also arranged the annual Doubles Tournament, along with the annual Handicap Competition. All competitions were well supported and very much enjoyed.
Having had no Cheltenham Civil Service teams competing in the Gloucestershire County Leagues last season for the first time since the leagues were formed, it is planned that we will once again have team in the League next Autumn when the leagues start.
After many years Mike Critchley has stood down as Chairman of the Squash club. Our thanks to Mike for all his efforts, especially overseeing the much needed refurbishment of the courts. He has handed the baton over to Dave Crisp, a long-standing member of the club.
Sincere thanks to the Committee of Duncan Brownlie (Treasurer), Dave Bott (Competitions) and Alex Milne (General Maintenance), whom without their hard work the club would cease to function.
The new season started 1 Apr 23 and to date we have 80 members renewed which has dropped from a high of 107 last Year but we are confident new members will arrive during the season with a mixture of marketing and a planned open day. The open day will be on Saturday 8 Jul 23 between 3pm-6pm.
On Fri 14 Jul we plan to hold our first quiz night in the CACSSA clubhouse which will hopefully be the first of many more social events now we have a social secretary. I will liaise with Neville/Richard on requirements nearer the time.
The league season has commenced with us having 3 mens and 3 ladies team in the Gloucestershire league. Early results have been pretty good with the Mens b Team top of Division 3.
In response to the manager’s statement (in his report) that an increase in dogs on site had been noted, it was suggested that more signs should be put up stating that No Dogs are allowed on site.
The Comms and Social Media Secretary asked if she could be informed when events are cancelled so that she can remove them from the social media pages and stop advertising the events.
The changing room upgrade project is underway and the Football club explained that they have already been working with the Rugby club and will be looking at involving the Cricket and Lacrosse sections once they have some definite plans to share.
The Comms and Social Media Secretary asked if clubs could provide pictures of the various sports that she can use on our various platforms.
Concerns were expressed by the secretary over the occasional early closure of the bar. This was particularly irritating when teams returned to the club after away matches, only to find the club closed. It was suggested that sports clubs notify the Steward in advance if they plan to return to the club so the bar can be kept open.
President’s Remarks and Presentation of CACSSA Volunteer of the Year
Some of you may be aware that 2023 marks the 70th anniversary of the move of GCHQ to Cheltenham and the beginning of activity here at Tewkesbury Road. Over the years, membership of CACSSA has expanded well beyond GCHQ to incorporate members from all walks of life and it is this diversity that ensures CACSSA continues to thrive and improve. As we have heard, upgrades to the facilities are constantly being made to the clubhouse and to the field. This was noted during the various visits we have received from CSSC Head Office staff during the past year, including the Chief Executive, the Head of Estates, and the Head of Finance, all of whom were impressed by the quality of the facilities – so well done to Neville and his team, as well as all the volunteers who help to run CACSSA.
But a word of warning: In the last 25 years the number of Area Associations with sports grounds and facilities such as ours has reduced from 70 to just 4, so we cannot be complacent and just assume that these facilities will always be available unless we put in the effort to maintain and improve them.
This means we need volunteers, both to run the individual sports sections, and to help manage the overall Area Association. I’m always pleased to see volunteers being recognised, as we have this evening with Angie; and it was especially pleasing to hear that CSSC had recognised the efforts of some of our longer standing volunteers at this year’s national Awards, with Gareth and Alan receiving Merit Awards and Charlie receiving The Fellowship Award, CSSC’s top award. So well done to them all!
But we cannot rely on the same people remaining in post forever, so we really need others to step forward and take up the reins to ensure CACSSA remains the vibrant and successful organisation that it is today. Volunteering can be very rewarding as you see your efforts producing results; and it will ensure that your particular sport is able to continue and grow. So let’s see if we can ensure that CACCSA is still thriving in another 70 years.
Presentation of Volunteer of the Year Award: Angie Atherton. This is our opportunity to identify and honour one volunteer who has dedicated their time and effort to helping CACSSA and the affiliated clubs throughout the year and, often, for many years previously.
This year the award is Presented to Angie Atherton for her dedicated service to CACSSA and the Hockey Club over many years. Angie joined the Civil Service Ladies Hockey Club in September 1967 and has been an active participant in Club matters ever since, both as a player and volunteer.
She has undertaken various roles within the Club committee from Club Captain to Chairperson and, although Angie is no longer playing hockey, she remains an active member, attending committee meetings and offering guidance when needed in her role as Club President.
In addition to her work within the Club, Angie has spent many years volunteering with the Gloucestershire Hockey Association, including being GHA Secretary and helping to run GHA festivals providing hockey for juniors at under 8, under 10 and under 12 level, as well as organising and helping to run schools’ tournaments. She also spent many years as an umpire co-ordinator.
Throughout the 56 years that Angie has been a member of CSSC and the CACSSA Hockey Club, she has been at the forefront of managing and developing the club and is fully deserving of the recognition that comes with receiving the CACSSA Volunteer of the Year award.