am pleased to report that our Club has had another record year. Turnover has improved from last year — an excellent outcome. Our Club continues to build its cash reserves, which is good news for its future.
Our Club cannot function to such a high standard without its staff. I have been fortunate to attend many functions during my year as President and I cannot praise all members of staff highly enough. One soon learns, however, that nothing would come together without our Chief Executive, Alex Graham. He manages a highly motivated and expert team to excellent effect. Our Club is very lucky to have such a first-rate Chief Executive. I therefore pass on the Management Committee’s and my own thanks for all the hard work and dedication of Alex and his team.
Alex is complemented by Lorna McCrudden, with the title of Accounts Manager. In reality, she is much more thanthat. Lorna is effectively Alex’s deputy, who also prepares all the accounting information for the Management Committeeand The Ulster Reform Club Building Co. Ltd.
Another reason that our Club has had such an outstanding year is the very high standard of cuisine prepared and presented by our Head Chef, Robert Fulton, and his team. Robert and his staff deserve the highest praise.
Our Club continues to flourish due to the endeavours of a large team, made up of staff and Members. The Members who serve on the various committees voluntarily give a great deal of their time to help ensure the smooth operation of our Club. My thanks go to the Club Officers, members of the Management Committee, the Conveners of the Sub-committees and their members. These sub-committees are as follows:
Membership and Marketing Committee
This Committee is convened by David Wilson. It continues its efforts to attract new Members, especially younger members and also to enhance the attractions of our Club to existing Members. I am happy to report that at the end of December, the total membership of the Club has been maintained at over 900 for a second consecutive year. I would like to express my appreciation to David Wilson and his Committee for all their good work.
House, Sports & Social Committee
This Committee is convened by Mark Blackburne. As usual, this Committee has been very busy organising numerous successful events during the year. This talent for holding such a wide range of popular events has progressively improved the financial position of the Club over recent years.
As my predecessors have highlighted in recent years in this section of the report, I wish to record a special thankyou to Past President Jim Neilly. Once again, he has produced, from his many contacts, a wide range of guest speakers for well attended lunches and evening functions. I am sure you will join me in thanking Jim for all his many endeavours on behalf of our Club.
I also thank Mark and his team for their sustained efforts over the year.
This Committee is convened by Trevor Hinds. It reviews staff remuneration and benefits and considers schemes and ideas to benefit staff. These schemes enhance staff knowledge through in-house training and external courses leading to certification in relevant areas. A number of these initiatives are funded from the Sir Cecil McKee Bursary for Management Development. My thanks to Trevor and his team.
Ulster Reform Club Building Company Ltd.
The structure of our Club as a tenant of the Ulster Reform Club Building Company Ltd continues to be of mutual benefit. Our thanks are due to the company’s Chairman, Jonathan McAlpine, and the Board of Directors for their management of the Company.
A special mention is due for the Arts Society, led by Naomi Patrick, which has hosted a wide range of popular and successful activities throughout the year. My thanks to Naomi for her work in organising this Society 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.
I note with regret the passing of the following members during my term:
Mr Jim Ramsey
Mr Bill Gillespie
Eleanor, Lady Brown
Sir Eric McDowell
Mr Garth Maxwell
Mr Robert J McCoubrey
Dr Sam Deane
Mr Lewis Hill
Mr Angus McConnell
His Honour, Judge John McKee RD QC
Our Club depends on its Members. We have had another successful year but I personally regret that our Dining Room is not better used by Members at lunchtime. Accordingly, I would encourage all Members to make use of our Club and its facilities and to introduce guests, who may then in turn become members themselves.
I expect to hand over the presidency to our current Junior Vice-President, Andy Wells, at the AGM on 27th April 2018. I commend Andy to you all as I know he will be an able and enthusiastic leader of our Club and encourage as many of you as possible to attend this important event.
As my year of office draws to a close, I would like to thank all members for their support and encouragement. Also, naturally, I cannot thank Alex Graham enough for his guidance, wisdom, attention to detail and dedicationto the Ulster Reform Club.
E Harry Sproule