Chairman’s Report 2017

I have recently been tasked with the role of updating our development plan in parallel to the changes in club structure which have been outlined in monthly bulletins, information evenings and on notice-boards strategically placed around the pavilion on club nights. This has been a useful exercise, as it highlights just how far we have progressed since the original document was written in July 2014.

  • - The clubhouse we are sitting in has been built since that date.
  • - Improved floodlighting will be installed in November/December of this year.
  • - Additional training days and hours have been secured and are incorporated in the new Community Use Agreement (CUA)

These are just three of the major developments undertaken within the last three years and all achievable as a result of good financial planning and a willingness to put our member’s annual subscription back into improving and enhancing their athletics experience. Athletics is becoming an increasingly expensive sport with track hire, electronic timing, entry fees and affiliation fees etc on an ever-increasing pathway and for those members that take advantage of the many competitive opportunities available, Tonbridge AC offers great value for money. We now need the number of members that actually compete on a regular basis to increase,  in order that they can take advantage of the heavily subsidised competitive outlets and we can start to field more competitive teams the whole year round.

Now back to the Development Plan. We can also put ticks by those sections of the Development Plan that targeted competitive  success at the older age groups, with the club now holding National Road Relay and Cross Country titles at Senior level.

Another tick can soon go alongside ‘Participation in the British Athletics League’, as summer 2018 will see the men’s team take their place in BAL Division 4 for the first time.

However, increased training days and additional teams competing at higher levels means the engine room of voluntary workers (Coaches, Team Managers, Officials, Committee Members and Sub-group Members etc) need constantly refreshing, supplementing and reinforcing. In short, we need more of those 900+  members, parents and family and friends to qualify as coaches, team manage, fill a club role or just help out on a training night. We are still very much a small town club functioning as a premier league one and this situation cannot go on indefinitely. A membership approaching nearly 1000 cannot be sustained by a voluntary ‘workforce’ of so few.

Looking back on 2017 the club again enjoyed huge success and were represented by two athletes (Tom Bosworth and Zak Skinner) and one official (Dawn Hookway) at the World Athletics Championships. Phoebe Barker and Tom Holden won U20 England Cross Country vests, with Phoebe going on to join James West in the GB squad at the Edinburgh International Cross Country. James (who also made the GB team for the European U23 Champs) and Dom Brown represented England over 1500m indoors and Phoebe placed 57th in the U20 World Cross Country Champs in Kenya. Graeme Saker is the current British Masters O55 Cross Country Champion with the O35 Women taking the British Masters Team title.  Other successes (with apologies to those not mentioned) included:

  • - ESAA T&F Gold Medals – Alfie Scopes (Discus), James Puxty (3000m)
  • - SIAB Representation  - Rebekah O’Brien (Combined Event), Fraser Gordon (X-C)
  • - First English placed runner in National 10km Champs – Ashley Gibson
  • - National Road Relay Champions – Senior Men
  • - National Cross Country Relay Champions –U20 Men(2016, 2017), Senior Men (2017)
  • - National Senior Cross Country Champions
  • - England National Cross Country Team Champions – U17 Men (with James Puxty taking individual gold)

Finally, many thanks to my fellow committee members, coaches, athletes, officials, team managers, club members, the Tornados ‘staff’  and parents for supporting and promoting the club in so many different ways over the past 12 months. With special thanks to Alan Bennett for sealing the new CUA after many years of tough ‘negotiating’ (an agreement that goes a long way to sealing the club’s future) and David Hull who retired from coaching this summer after many year’s sterling and highly successful service to TAC.

The Chair (Nov 2017)