Shrewsbury School

Sabrina Club AGM Minutes


Sabrina  Club

President: Charles Wright    Captain: Nick Randall     Secretary: Rod Spiby     Treasurer:  Philip Wood



held at 11:00 hours on Saturday 14th November 2020

virtually via a Zoom Meeting owing to Covid-19 restrictions

19 people attended the meeting held electronically via a Zoom meeting due to the ongoing restrictions of the Covid-19 Worldwide Pandemic.  This worked exceptionally well under the circumstances and seemed to be enjoyed by all who were able to attend.

1.0 Apologies

Apologies for absence were received and those who recorded their apologies included:-

Mark Telfer, Colum Wilson, Matthew Kimpton-Smith, John Richards.

2.0 Approval of Previous Minutes

The Minutes of the AGM held on Saturday 21st September 2019 had been emailed to all those attending the meeting. They were also posted shortly after the meeting on the Sabrina Club section of the School website, available to be downloaded.  Acceptance of the minutes was proposed by Miles Preston and seconded by Mark Dixon being accepted with no matters arising.

3.0 Current Committee/Retirements/Elections

The names of the current Committee Members were listed on the agenda for the meeting.  Under the Constitution all members of the Committee are elected for a period of 3 years, whereupon, they must retire and apply for re-election should they wish to remain in post.  Accordingly, Paul Manser, RSSBC Link, and Lettie Tay, Girls Representative, retired from the Committee with the rest of the Committee Members remaining in their post as they have not yet served 3 years in their current election period.  Notice for nominations for any of the retiring posts was advertised prior to the meeting.  Rod Spiby (Secretary) advised there had been no other nominations for these posts.  Paul Manser and Lettie Tay confirmed that they wished to continue to serve on the Committee and in the absence of any alternative nominations, Miles Preston proposed Paul Manser, seconded by Mark Dixon and Mark Dixon proposed Lettie Tay, seconded by Miles Preston. These nominations were accepted without exception.

4.0 Treasurer’s Report

Philip Wood (Treasurer) reported that the Sabrina Club remains in good shape.  The latest accounts for the period ending 31st July 2020 were circulated prior to the meeting and a copy available upon request.  Funds in the Bank currently stand at £4,416.  Since the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the usual events organised by Sabrina Club all regretfully had to be cancelled and therefore the planned expenditure was not incurred.  It was noted and appreciated that the deposit on the room at the Blue Anchor for the School’s Head was returned in full.  Expenditure this year therefore has been confined to purchasing new runners for the Golding School VIII and Crew Pictures for last Summers’ highly successful Girls Quad. 

PW advised that earlier in the year the OS Grant was approved for the proposed budget expenditure.  Given the constraints on activity this year, this is likely to be rolled into next year, but this is still to be proposed and agreed.  Andrew Racz asked the level of this Grant and how this compared to other OS sports.  PW advised that the latest Grant approved amounted to £4,450 and believed that Sabrina Club is well supported for the arranged activities which is recognised to be good publicity for the School. Nick Randall (Captain) advised that historically the level of Grant awarded to Sabrina Club was somewhere in the middle of the financial sum awarded to clubs with the highest figures generally going to football, cricket and golf. 

Charles Wright (President) advised that there has been an overspend for last year’s Saturday Henley Lunch and given the high profile success of this event, Nick Jenkins and the OS Office had agreed to help fund the shortfall.  The Committee had however applied for funding for an event to take place in May last year which never materialised and the figure within the Grant attributed to this is close to the overspend. Consequently it is likely that the two will offset each other. 

Nick Randall mentioned again the generous £500 donation to the Sabrina Supporters Fund from John Lear, who was a national weightlifting coach providing strength and power training to athletes throughout a number of the Olympic Games.  He previously provided training to the Top Squad RSSBC at the request of the then 1st VIII Coach. This was minuted in last year’s AGM, but Nick wanted to recognise it again and demonstrate an example of support and funding coming from a variety of different areas.

PW advised that there remains plenty of Sabrina regalia available to purchase making excellent gifts with Christmas now fast approaching.  RS advised that he holds the majority of the stock and can be contacted at any time for orders including the high quality excellent blazer buttons sourced by Miles Preston.  Sales of this regalia continue to increase, albeit have slowed with the onset of the Pandemic. 

5.0 Events/Activity Update

Charles Wright (President) would normally at this point in the meeting outline significant events that have taken place during the past 12 months and promote forthcoming events.  Sadly he had to advise that all such events this calendar year had to be put on hold due to the Pandemic with no way of arranging future events until mass gatherings are allowed by the Government again.  The usual Christmas Dinner attended by the Committee however took place last year and thanks were noted to Athol Hundermark (Director of Rowing) for arranging a 1st VIII blazer presented to Phillip Wood at the dinner in recognition of his stalwart work for the Sabrina Crew as well as his services as Treasurer (PW was wearing the said blazer to the virtual AGM).

CW advised that the Blue Anchor gathering for the Schools Head was cancelled in time to ensure abortive costs were not incurred, thanks to on the ground intelligence from Miles Preston as it was uncertain right up to the last minute whether this event would take place.

All other planned events regretfully never got off the ground and CW wanted to record commiserations to the Sabrina Crew who looked forward to building on several years of success and a winter of dedicated land training, plus also the disappointment of the RSSSBC coaches and crews. 

Thanks were also noted to James Russell (Social Secretary), Phil Wood and Rod Spiby who had arrangements in place for the usual events but fortunately were cancelled in time to save financial losses.  Thanks were also extended to all the Committee who have each fulfilled very distinctive roles most effectively even though such evidence could not be seen on the ground this year.

CW advised that all Sabrina members should be pleased to know that Nick Randall, the Captain, recently personally sponsored the Shrewsbury Room at Leander for the next 10 years upon expiry of the current term. He recommended all members to make use of this impressive facility if they can, although noted that the Captain will of course have first option on the room during Henley week.  He asked NR if Leander would extend the period by a year for the loss of HRR this year.  NR advised he will ask and make the point. It was agreed that this should be done sooner rather than later in an endeavour to obtain a positive response.

CW advised that the Committee usually meets in early November and although this has not yet taken place, they will be meeting before the end of the year to review the current position and support for the RSSBC, plus hopefully plan for future events.

CW advised that the Sabrina Crew have maintained their land training and more recently been able to take to the water following a relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.  They have been able to challenge some of the Schools Top Squad Crews and recently achieved a first for Sabrina with a joint outing with a womens Sabrina Crew.  Real progress has been achieved by Lettie Tay in getting a squad of Sabrina women together and it was obvious from the photographs circulated that a good time was had by all. Hopefully this will continue to build.

6.0 Sabrina Club Constitution

For a year or more now, the Committee have been debating a variation to the Sabrina Club Constitution introducing a new “Sabrina Benefactor Member”.  Nick Randall in particular has undertaken outstanding work in encouraging generous donations in support of  RSSBC from various sources, some of whom are not members of Sabrina Club.  The Committee felt it was important to welcome such generous individuals into the Sabrina Club if they are not already members. To invite such individuals to honorary membership might not be quite appropriate, as such category is normally reserved for members of supportive staff, the Headmaster and individuals who have a direct impact on or influence on RSSBC or Sabrina activities, but may not have made a financial donation.  Many individuals making such a generous donation may not want singled out recognition, however, to some this may be very important and anything that can be done to increase the prospects of such generous donations desperately required to maintain the standard of equipment and training to keep RSSBC at the most competitive level is an essential part of the Sabrina Club activities.  Following extensive and ongoing debate regarding this point, the Committee felt that offering acknowledgement of such generous donations by introducing a Benefactor Member status would achieve this goal. 

Prior to the meeting, the proposed updated wording to include this new category of membership was posted on the website and circulated to those members attending AGM.  CW invited comments on this proposed wording.  Miles Duncan commented that whilst that he understood the basis of the proposal, he felt that there would be a limited number of people, so was it really necessary to differentiate their membership title.  It could be perceived as a “bought” membership.  Mark Nixon also questioned the necessity for this distinction.  CW advised that some form of special recognition is important for some, whilst others prefer to be anonymous.  RS and MP both commented that the question of this revised membership category arose through the dedicated hard work NR has undertaken over the years to secure significant funding in support of RSSBC and to support him with anything required to generate further such generous donations.  The Committee were advised when debating this that NR believed that such a recognition may help encourage certain parties to give generously and it was felt important to provide the tools and opportunity for NR to obtain such very difficult funding is essential. NR advised that a number of the recent 1st VIII boat acquisitions have been 50% funded by generous donations, with some boats being acquired for RSSBC through repeat donors. 

Miles Duncan commented that it is already possible for the Committee to recognise such generosity via the honorary membership and does it not single out such donors by giving them a different title.  Whilst this view was to some degree shared by those attending the meeting, it was also recognised that if NR or any of the Committee felt further recognition was required in order to secure such generous donations then this option should be available to the Committee in order to facilitate this. John Gilbert suggested a different badge to the current Sabrina badge may be presented to such generous donors as a subtle way of recognition and the question of different like a different tie was also debated.  The Committee felt that ideally the single promotion of the Sabrina tie rather than diversifying this may be preferred and the cost of a pin badge may be excessive, however, this is still being further considered. 

Miles Duncan was keen to hear what Lettie Tay thought on the matter being from a different generation.  Lettie Tay confirmed that a pin badge seemed appropriate, has already been considered by the Committee and may well be looked into further as it is more discreet  She is firmly of the view that her generation may see the status of such a bespoke membership important to them and is support of the introduction of the option of the new membership where appropriate.

Jonathan Beeston, who has already been such a generous donor in the past, advised that he personally would not have been looking for separate recognition, but also could understand that some may and you only have to look at the different Boat Club blazers and ties to see that recognition of achievement generally can be important and well received. Peter Birch commented that the introduction of another membership group seems complicated and he had been invited to be a member on the wish of the Committee and surely that was most important message rather than a separate category. 

At this point Mark Nixon commented that we seemed to be bogged down with the detail and if the Committee had reviewed the reasons for it and believed it was a useful option to employ as required should we not give them the ability to facilitate this.  Ben Duncan advised he was able to see both sides of the argument which were well presented and didn’t really have anything further to add.

Following a good discussion and debate on the matter, it was decided to put the proposal to a vote.  Mark Nixon proposed adopting the new wording and Lettie Tay seconded the proposal.  There was 18 votes in favour and 1 abstention and therefore it was agreed that the new wording should be incorporated into the Constitution allowing the Committee the ability to implement as deemed appropriate.

7.0 Any Other Business

Miles Duncan asked how School rowing was progressing.  Athol Hundermark advised that it had been a chaotic year due to the Pandemic, however, there was a healthy number of students rowing with a good mix between boys and girls.  Time on the water has been limited due to Covid restrictions, but generally there is a good atmosphere within the Boat Club.  It is hoped that a lead girl’s coach will be appointed soon to mirror the boys lead coach. The J16’s are strong in numbers with exciting prospects coming through into the Top Squad in the future.   The restrictions recently implemented whereby the 3rd form are no longer allowed to row in the Michaelmas and Lent terms, largely due to river conditions being high or flooded and poor weather for their first experience on the water, has allowed them to try other sports in the meantime and then have a more favourable impression of rowing in the more clement Summer term.  This seems to be working well in terms of retaining numbers within the Boat Club in the early years.  AH said it is difficult to predict how the 1st VIII crew will perform at HRR next year, however, he is of the view that Shrewsbury will be difficult to beat.

Charles Wright wanted to make a plug for Collier and Robinson, who are still at work and keen to have orders for blazers, waistcoats and the like which he was sporting for the meeting.  The Committee are also keen to promote all regalia and encourage members to wear Sabrina colours wherever and whenever possible to continue to further promote the Club.

NR wanted to note that Sabrina member, Blake Simms from the Isle of Wight, recently made a large donation towards the new Girls Quad and also recently gave the School a coaching launch. Blake has asked that the new boat be named after the ship his father served on in the War. Nick also wanted to note that Andy Clarke, the School Boatman, helped in respect of this.

NR then asked CW if he had recently received a package. This turned out to be the Jesus College 1st Lent Boat 1970 Head of The Lents plaque which CW rowed in and is given to the coaches of Oxford and Cambridge. Andrew Rats had found it and advised NR whereupon it was agreed to secure it and present it to CW for all his work within the Sabrina Club.  CW expressed his gratitude and great thanks and advised he will be writing to those concerned. (Post meeting note - a letter of thanks to all concerned was sent to NR within days of the meeting).

AH advised that there are noises within HRR that there may be a change to regulations for the PE Cup in the future to allow Clubs to enter.  This is not a concern for UK based Clubs with a School background, but there are concerns regarding some of the American Super Clubs that have vast numbers to select from and are dominant in the USA.  He is amongst many who have expressed some concerns and would encourage members to do likewise whenever there is an opportunity, as he believes this to be one of the most prestigious and successful events in the Regatta with clear evidence of support and crowd numbers.

CW once again thanked Lettie Tay for arranging the Zoom meeting and his fellow Committee Members for their part in the proceedings.

8.0 Date and time of next meeting

It was agreed that, Covid permitting, the next AGM will take place on the date of the Old Salopian Day next year, still to be confirmed, at the agreed slightly earlier time of 4.00 pm.

At this point the meeting was formally closed.

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