Chairman's Report 2017/18


The recent heavy rains remind me that it was local flooding that led to the forming of the Association in 1928. We have continued ever since - even through the war years - so this year we are reaching our 90th Anniversary.

We intend to hold a dinner in celebration at Merton College, prepared by the catering students. We did this very successfully for our 75th Anniversary, and some of you were present then. It will be held in November, and we will send out invitations when we have a firm date.

We also intend to hold a summer party on the middle Saturday of Wimbledon fortnight, 7th July, as a thank you to all those who give their time and effort to keep the Association running. These are our Area-Co-Ordinators, our Road Stewards, our Committee, and the Management Group of the Residents’ Pavilion. I would like to pay tribute to all these unpaid volunteers, who contribute so much to maintaining the local environment and the well-being of residents.

We will be producing a special Anniversary edition of The Guide in the Autumn.  This will be in colour.  We experimented with some colour in The Guide last Christmas with favourable comments.  I anticipate that the Anniversary edition will contain items of interest from each of or 9 decades, as well as the usual up to the minute news.

 I would like to single out for special thanks tonight one member whose contribution has been wholly exceptional. This is Jill Truman who has been working for the Association for 50 years starting in 1968.

She has held nearly every office in that time (other than Treasurer

since she claims she isn’t safe looking after money) Starting with Advertisement Manager, then Association Secretary, ultimately being voted in as Chairman both before and after standing for Council. She doubled up as both Editor &advertisement Manager for a couple of hears, until Dick Coleman stepped into the breach. 

You may have seen from this month’s Guide that she was recently in hospital with a serious condition. 

I am sure Jill would also want to join me in paying public tribute to the other members of the Committee. Clare Townsend is our Minutes Secretary who with her husband our very exemplary Treasurer John, also organises our social events and much else.  Together they form a double team and a joint whirlwind of energy. 

As Treasurer, John Townsend manages to keep on top of a multitude of financial transactions and make them understandable. He will be presenting the accounts later in his usual enjoyable manner and I also want to thank Brian Lewis-Lavender for again auditing them.  

Dick Coleman has brought huge enthusiasm to his role as Advertising Manager and has canvassed local businesses for new advertisements with great success, thus increasing the revenue that is vital if we are to continue to produce The Guide monthly. We know of no other residents’ association that so regularly communicates with its members. 

This is a huge achievement by a great team of people. Andrew Barwick continues to be, as he has been for over ten years, our Distribution Manager, which is an onerous monthly task. In this he is assisted, again, by Dick, and by George Holder who looks after the postal members. They deserve an enormous thank you for their continued service.  A relative newcomer to this team is Rosemary Wright, who is now assisting Andrew Barwick as our dedicated Membership Secretary.

Jerry Cuthbert is the Chair of the Residents’ Pavilion Management Group and has overseen the transformation of a semi-derelict tennis pavilion into a warm and welcoming community hall and continues to manage the bookings and lettings. It is now used on a very regular basis by a large variety of community groups, and this now increasingly contributes to the overall income of the Association.  Jerry also keeps our website up to date with news and information about local matters, whilst our Webmaster Charles Briscoe-Smith, keeps our website up and running.  This is now increasingly used as a point of reference for new entrants to the area, and for enquiries. 

Jerry Cuthbert is also one of our representatives on the Raynes Park Association and Raynes Park Forum.

 Where he is relied on to provide very professional insight into Crossrail 2 and other environmental issues.  David Freeman continues, as he has done for many years, to be our adviser on planning matters.  He is extremely knowledgeable and advises the Secretariat and Members on the complex local planning laws which help us and them fight ill-advised planning applications; keeps us informed of applications in the pipeline and attends the planning committee when necessary to put across our point of view when we oppose a scheme. He also gives Jerry great assistance in running the Pavilion along with the Management Group who look after the                                     grounds, non-keyholding hirers, and so on.

We have had very great help, as usual, from our local councillors, of all political persuasions, who attend our committee meetings.  I won’t mention any of those standing again by name tonight, given the imminence of the local elections, but they know who they are, and we thank them and wish them well.    I can however, mention Mary-Jane Jeanes, who is not standing for re-election, but who has been an excellent councillor, and a very strong supporter of the Association.  We hope that we can persuade her to continue to join the Committee and help us in future.

I feel I must mention two of our affiliated social activities. The Pavilion Social Club meets most Thursday afternoons and is much enjoyed by between 35 to 40 residents each week, with an overall membership of 45. They love the opportunity for social interaction, each other, and the expert and warm way in which it is run by Andrea Hannan and Jill Truman.  The Pavilion Club runs coach outings that are open to non-members (this year it will be to Losely House, Eastbourne and Brighton and to the Annual Wisley Open Day, so well run up until now by Margaret Barratt, who has at last had to retire from this role. We thank her very much and wish her and her husband John all the best for the future. 

I am also particularly pleased to welcome tonight Ruth Whitehead who will be speaking to us on the work of the Paddock Horticultural Society, which has many allotments on Cannon Hill Common, The Paddock also runs a tremendous social calendar, including regular Sunday Brunches, all delivered in a lovely friendly atmosphere. 

At last year’s summer party for the volunteers, Gordon Stratford unveiled the plaque for the flowering bird cherry tree we had planted in honour of Jan Bailey, his partner and our former Secretary. It was a moving occasion.  It will be lovely to see it in bloom for the first time this year.

One highlight of our year was when 30 members were treated to an extended tour of the All England Lawn Tennis Club just before the Championships, led by the Chief Coach, Dan Bloxham, who lives in Raynes Park. We went around the show courts, and saw young people training as part of the Club’s Junior Tennis Initiative, which goes to all schools in Merton.   Later in the year we were also invited to their impressive ground off Grand Drive, where large numbers of pupils from a very young age were playing.

Another happy event was the retirement after 45 years of unbroken service to the community of our milkman John Braden MBE.  We organised a collection for him to which a huge number of people contributed, and we intend to present him with a cheque and the cards and messages after this meeting. 

We had an Open Meeting in June at Blossom House School in Motspur Park, which has specialist therapeutic facilities for children with difficulties in speech and communication and were given an inspiring talk from its founder and Principal Joey Burgess OBE.

At our Open Meeting in September we had a presentation from the officers of the St Helier and Epsom Hospital Trust on the future for local hospitals and were given the assurance that no major changes would be made in the next few years, and after that not without extensive public consultation.

We have made representations on the proposed introduction of wheelie bins from next October and on the introduction of fortnightly collections, which we think is a mistake.

Additionally, we have made representations on several individual planning applications; on street cleaning; on problems with flooding; as well as on the parking restrictions in the Sir Joseph hood Memorial Playing Fields. 

We have kept people up to date with the latest news as to the closure of the tracks into Waterloo in August, and the plans for Crossrail 2 and Heathrow.

So, we look forward to another busy year to come!

John Elvidge - 11 April 2018. 

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