VRAC AGM 2021 including Chairman's Report


The above meeting took place yesterday evening (1st November) at the Lion, Moulton

Key items agreed:

1) Re-election of the VRAC committee for 2021/2

    Chairman - Stuart Doyle
    Secretary - Lucy Burch
    Membership Secretary - Helen Taylor (Betteley)
    Treasurer - Ann Collier
    Committee Members - Steve Collier, Ken Dunn, Geoff Fawkes, Shaun McGrath, Rick Murray, Colin Rathbone

    Non Elected roles

    President - Harry Evans
    Wellbeing Officer - Debbie Broad

2) Membership Fees
The committee are delighted to confirm that, unlike almost every other commodity in the country at the moment, the cost of VRAC membership for the 2022/3 membership will NOT be increasing and will therefore remain at its current level for another year

Meanwhile in order to provide all members with an insight into the clubs current position and challenges the committee wanted to publish the 2020-21 Chairman's Report:

"During the past 12 months VRAC has been successful in all the key criteria on which I believe the club is measured, both by its members and outside observers.

1) Membership

- We have an excellent understanding of our membership base including their key details and have a well-controlled process for managing leavers and joiners
- We have a stable number of members and in some groups are at or near the capacity we are able to cope with, due to our facilities and volume of coaches, to ensure all members receive optimum levels of attention and support.
- We have a very good balance of young and old and male and female members.
- The primary concerns are:
a. the heavy focus on endurance albeit that is not unexpected given the nature of the facilities we have access to and previous successes of the club.
b. The waiting list for the U11 and U13 groups - This is common amongst athletic and other sports clubs and due to the limited availability of coaches and facilities.
However it should be noted that the position has significantly improved in the last few months due to an influx of volunteers
c. Lack of a throwing coach

2) Financials

- We remain in a healthy position and continue to have a good understanding of our costs and income and use this to achieve a break-even position which is the goal as we do not strive to generate significant profits.
- Due to reviews of our membership and fee structure we have been able to minimise unnecessary England Athletics membership costs.
- We have therefore been able to maintain membership fees at an exceptionally low level, taking account of the benefits included in this charge, compared to other organisations.
For £55 per annum members get access to several coached training sessions a week, including indoors and at Knights Grange, plus free entry to a significant number of championships, relays and XC leagues.
This is in addition to the EA fee being paid on members behalf
- We still need to be mindful of the proposed development at Knights Grange as, although this appears to have stalled, if it does proceed then there will be implications for our financial position.

3) Suppliers

- We continue to have a strong relationship with our primary kit supplier, Rosebank Sports.
- We have a positive working relationship with both CWAC in relation to Knights Grange and with Delamere Forest which are our 2 primary training locations

4) Races and Events

- The clubs own annual race, the Pie and Peas, fills up well ahead of the closing date every year, feedback is excellent and it is a good source of funds to the club.
Despite changes to this year's event due to the impact of COVID it was still very well received thanks to the hard work and initiative of key people within the club.
- The club is closely involved in the organisation of the Cheshire Schools XC Champs.
- Members of the club are integral to the organisation of the Cheshire Clubs XC Championships and were heavily involved in the 2021 North West Road Relays at Birchwood

5) Competition
- Although large parts of 2020 and 2021 were bereft of competitions due to the pandemic we have returned with a bang. Already in Autumn 2021 we have won Cheshire, North West, Northern and National titles and there is a strong possibility of more in the relays and championships still to come during the Winter of 21/22.
- VRAC are now seen as one of the leading endurance running clubs in the country and invariably pick up at least one title, plus minor medals, in every team event we attend including at National level.
- It has been notable that we are now achieving strong results at senior level, again up to Northern and National Level, as a result of our juniors maturing and joining the senior ranks. Evidence of this was a team of U20's winning a bronze medal at the recent Northern Senior XC Relay Championships.
- The introduction of a weekly "Results Roundup" which is published on social media has proved an extremely popular way of communicating our successes to our membership and beyond. Thanks to Rob Brown for his efforts and literary talents!

6) Coaches
a. The conveyor belt of talent which has generated the results above shows no sign of abating. The fact that we produce so many successful athletes year after year, from a small catchment area and with relatively basic facilities, is testament to the quality and commitment of our coaches. We have a dedicated and experienced coaching team who do a superb job in providing expert guidance to our athletes across all ages and disciplines
b. We have seen a number of existing and new coaches attend club-funded courses throughout the year to develop their knowledge and skills
c. We have welcomed a number of new volunteers to support the coaching team and it is hoped a number of these will undertake formal coaching courses.
d. We still have some shortages in specific areas and will carry on attempting to recruit into those areas or shuffle existing resources

7) Committee
- I strongly believe that the current committee is the strongest and most unified that it has been in the c.10 years since I joined it and possesses a complementary range of skills, knowledge and personalities.
- In my opinion there is common agreement across the committee on the clubs strategic direction and key principles and policies. I also feel that we have a culture where issues can be debated constructively, all members are comfortable raising concerns and challenging where they disagree, and meetings are conducted in an atmosphere that is friendly rather than hostile.

However we continue to have challenges:

- Track - Due to the COVID pandemic the proposed development of a new track at Knights Grange appears to have stalled. The uncertainty makes medium to long term planning and decision-making difficult. Whilst the endurance sections of the club are able to thrive with the existing set-up the lack of an all-weather track and improved equipment/ facilities does hamper the development of the sprints, jumps and throws sections and our ability to recruit coaches and athletes into these areas.

- Senior section - We have made a number of changes to this section during the last 12 months. These have been well publicised on the club's Social Media sites and have materially improved the level of organisation and offering to this section of the club. This enables us to accommodate runners across the entire spectrum of abilities allowing members the opportunity to train with others of a similar level. Of particular note is that the structure still enables seniors to train with younger members in order to foster a unified spirit across the whole club. This is a hallmark of VRAC and does not exist in many other sporting/ athletic clubs.

    - The changes will take time to bed down and we will undoubtedly make further tweaks based on feedback received.

    - During this period of transition there has been some migration to alternative running organisations within the area.
    However this has been on a relatively small scale, has not impacted the competitiveness of the club and has actually improved the sense of unity within VRAC.


Notwithstanding all the above I believe the single most important achievement of the club over the last 12-18 months is that during a very difficult period we have been able to offer our members the ability to meet and train with friends and team-mates in a safe environment and support them in maintaining their mental and physical health."