I am delighted to report that the Club has had a record year. Turnover has moved ahead from last year, a record year in itself, which is a pleasing outcome. The Club continues to build its cash reserves which I am sure Members will agree is very satisfactory.
For each Management Committee meeting, Lorna McCrudden prepared a detailed report in her capacity as Accounts Manager. These reports are always of a very high standard. I would commend her for these reports, the high standard produced and for her financial diligence.
The Club cannot function to such a high standard without its Staff. I have been privileged to attend many functions during my year as President and I cannot praise the staff highly enough. Over the Christmas period, on a number of
days, the Club was operating at absolute maximum capacity. Even so, the staff took everything in their stride.
Of course, one of the reasons the Club had such a good year is the very high standard of food presented by our Head Chef, Robert Fulton and his team. I believe that Robert and team deserve the highest of praise.
Nothing would come together without our Chief Executive, Alex Graham. He manages a highly motivated and expert team to the higheststandards. This Club is very lucky in having such a good Chief Executive. I therefore pass on the Management Committee’s, Members’, and my own thanks, for all the hard work and dedication of Alex and his team.
Finally, in this part of the Report and continuing on from the points I have made, we, the Members, sometimes do not realise just what is going on in the background. For example, at one of the Club’s major sell-out functions during the year, I only learned the next day that after the starter course had been served, the dishwashing machine in the kitchen took it upon itself to start flooding the kitchen. The function continued to great success without any of the Members or guests realising the drama behind the scene.
The Club continues to flourish due to the hard work of a large team of people made up of Staff and Members.The Members who sit on the various Committees give their time voluntarily. My thanks go to the Club Officers, Members of the Management Committee, the Conveners of the Sub-Committees and their Members.
The Sub-Committees are:
This Committee meets under Convenor Trevor Hinds to review staff remuneration and benefits. They also consider schemes and concepts to benefit staff and enhance their knowledge through experience and learning. Such schemes are funded from the Sir Cecil McKee Bursary for Management Development. Recommendations regarding the aforementioned are then presented to the Management Committee for ratification. One example of the Bursary in action was that in 2016, our Sous Chef, Craig Cruise, attended a chocolatier course with Master Chocolatier Benoit Lorge in Kenmare.
Membership and Marketing Committee
This Committee is convened by Chris Lowry.
This Committee continues in its efforts to attract new Members especially younger Members and also enhance the attractions of our Club to existing Members. I am delighted to report that as at the end of December the total Membership of the Club passed the 900 mark for the first time since 2009. Of course, we, as Members, are all encouraged, and have a responsibility, to help increase our Membership. I thank Chris Lowry and his Committee for all their great work.
House and Sports Committee
This Committee is convened by Louise Smylie.
Once again, this Committee has been very busy and has organised a number of very successful events duringthe year, many of which were sell-outs. Really, the ability to hold such a wide range of events has driven the finances of the Club to the very satisfactory level they are in today.The Convenor and her Committee have done sterling work and in fact Members can look forward to another wide and diverse programme for the 2017 year.
As my predecessors have done in recent years in this part of the Report I would record a special thank you to Past President Jim Neilly. Once again he has produced, from his vast contact book, a wide range of guest speakers, for lunches and evening functions, all of which were close to or sold out. I am sure you would join me in thanking Jim Neilly for all his ongoing endeavours on behalf of our Club.
Our Societies go from strength to strength. The Arts Society, led by Naomi Patrick, and the Photographic Society, led by Lloyd Crawford, have had a wide range of activities during the year and by all accounts were a great
success. My thanks to Naomi and Lloyd for their hard work in organising all the activities of our Societies, ably assisted by our Membership Relations Manager, Christina Johnston. If any Member has a particular interest and wishes to start a society, please contact Christina who will be only too happy to assist.
Ulster Reform Club Building Company Ltd
The structure of the Club as a tenant and the Ulster Reform Club Building Co Ltd as landlord continues to be of mutual benefit. Thanks are due to the Company’s Chairman, Jonathan McAlpine, and the Board of Directors for their
input and management of the Company.
Unfortunately, as is to be expected with a Club as large and diverse as ours, we experienced a number of deaths during the year. I wish to mention two in particular here. In September, we lost a very loyal servant of the Club, our Kitchen Porter, William Donnelly. Then, in January 2017, Past President Billy Jenkins died after a short illness.Billy was a tireless supporter of the Club over many years, continuing to contribute up to a few weeks prior to his death in his capacity as a Director of the Building Company. Both gentlemen will be sadly missed by our Staff and our Members.
Our Club survives and thrives due to its Members. We have had a very successful year, particularly with functions, although it is a source of regret that our Dining Room at lunchtime is not busier. I would encourage all Members to make use of our Clubhouse and especially the dining facilities during the day.
I expect to hand over the Presidency to our current Junior Vice President, Harry Sproule, at the AGM on 7thApril. I commend Harry to you as I know he will do a great job.
As my year draws to a close as President of this great Club, I would like to thank all Members for their support and encouragement. Also, of course, I cannot thank Alex Graham sufficiently for his guidance, wisdom, attention to detail and for his unstinting dedication to the Ulster Reform Club.