An address made by the club’s President, Terry Drew, opened Penzance & Newlyn RFC’s 72nd Annual General Meeting held at the ‘Westholme’ clubhouse on Thursday evening.
Terry welcomed members to the meeting and then asked all present to stand in memory of those associated with the club who had passed away during the year.
After mentioning there had been changes in personnel on the Cornish Pirates Board of Directors, including the return of Dicky Evans and Martin Hudson, and the appointment of a new Chairman in Paul Durkin and CEO in Peter Child, various reports followed.
In his role also as Club Administrator Terry said that the senior XV, the Cornish Pirates, could feel reasonably satisfied at finishing sixth in the Championship, three places higher than the previous season. The team also reached the quarter-final of the British & Irish Cup. A good number of victories were recorded and there was praise for the players and for Gavin Cattle and Alan Paver, in their first season as co-Coaches.
Terry reported that the Pirates Amateurs also had another satisfactory season, finishing mid-table in the Cornwall & Devon league. He hoped they will be able to increase the size of their squad and stressed, in relation to the expected eventual move of the Cornish Pirates to Truro, that they are the future of the club. He added that all involved should be congratulated on their enthusiasm and dedication.
A separate brief Youth Section report follows later, however Terry advised that the section is thriving and he complimented everyone for their untiring efforts.
The Squash Club too continues to grow, and the area behind the main courts has been re-carpeted. Racketball tournaments have also taken place.
Darren Curry is still contracted to the club, is involved in hosting arrangements when required, and has proved very useful in providing food for various sections. Thanks were also expressed to Sally and her bar staff.
Many volunteers continue to provide terrific input and especially the ground staff for their ‘week in week out’ efforts. The Pirates Supporters’ Club (likewise the Cornish Pirates Supporters Club) also form a small but dedicated group.
To conclude his report as Administrator, Terry said he was delighted that Dicky Evans’ ongoing support is greatly appreciated.
Penzance & Newlyn RFC’s Treasurer, Mike Adams, offered apologies that he was unable to attend the meeting. However, his written report provided real encouragement, mentioning that a significant profit had been made. With support from a number of organisations the club continues to remain out of overdraft and again finished the year with cash reserves to support future activities and improvements. He did though make the important comment that whilst the club remains financially stable and solvent, with the potential departure of the Cornish Pirates in a couple of years “One eye will have to be kept on the future, plus being prudent certain scenarios reviewed, as they have been, to ensure stability remains at the club.”
On behalf of the Pirates Youth Section, Cullam Osborne, who is the present joint Chairman with Tony Hands, made the point that as a committee they have the interests of all 350 children who play rugby at Penzance and Newlyn, and this ethos is at the centre of everything they do when trying to improve the section. There is also a Ladies and Girls section that continues to flourish. Girls wishing to come along and join in are encouraged to do so and are made most welcome.
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Cullam felt that a number of special thanks also needed to be made, including to a core group of very hardworking volunteers and to the club Chairman Scott Dugdale, who continues to provide huge support both with his advice and also as a sponsor and a generous gift giver. Martin Murrish and Wendy Nicholas have kindly continued with their sponsorship, and appreciation was also expressed to John Hosking of Howdens Joinery Penzance, Dan Potter at Idlewald, and Brian Steinleick of the Oggy Oggy Pasty Company.
This sponsorship help is essential, as is income from match subs and membership fees. Costs are increasing all the time for things like playing kit, laundry, after match meals, and paying for all weather pitches which enables training to take place during inclement weather.
With competitive Cup rugby only at U16 level in Cornwall at the present, congratulations were expressed to the Pirates U16s who drew 10-all with Truro in the final, but unfortunately lost on a 2-1 try count.
Individually, many players in the Youth Section have represented the county this year, and a select few have gone on to be selected into Elite Player Development Group (EPDG) and Exeter Chiefs Academy squads. The list reads: U14 EPDG - Harvey Beckerleg, Frankie Nowell,Bailey Rogers; U15 EPDG - Eli Williams, Ben Durrant, Harry Hocking, Perran Tustin; U16 EPDG - Arthur Relton, Mawgan Osborne, Callum Penry, Jordan Sidwell. Chiefs U15 Academy - Harry Hocking, Toby Osborne. Perran Tustin,Ben Durrant; Chiefs U16 Academy - Mawgan Osborne, Callum Penry.
Besides joint Chairman Tony Hands, who has taken over from Mark Gilmour, other new Youth Section appointments to note are those of Simon Murley – Secretary, Andy Phillips – Treasurer, Ali Nuttall – Membership Secretary, and stalwart Adrian Bick – Coaching Coordinator.
On behalf of the Cornish Pirates, Coach Alan Paver was again present at the AGM, saying he was especially pleased that there has been an improved reconnection with the Amateur section of the club. As for the Cornish Pirates looking forward to an eventual move to the Stadium for Cornwall, he mentioned that the wheels were clearly moving in the right direction and the trip he and colleagues went on to New Zealand also proved very useful.
Next on the agenda was the approval of appointment of Alvin Williams as a Life Member. Proposed by Peter Michell and seconded by Graham Paul, this was unanimously supported.
A true legend of the Pirates, Alvin played 819 games for the club, made 50 appearances for Cornwall, and also featured for combined Cornwall & Devon teams against the Wallabies and the Springboks. He captained the Pirates for three seasons and was later President (1987-90).
The approval of appointments to the Management Committee were then confirmed, as follows: President – Terry Drew, Chairman – Scott Dugdale, Treasurer – Mike Adams, Youth Section Representatives – Tony Hands/Cullam Osborne/Alana Williams, Committee Members – Mike Hanson, Martin Murrish and Wendy Nicholas.
The AGM concluded with the Chairman, Scott Dugdale, addressing the meeting and answering questions from the floor. In his third year in the role, although it had been hard work he was extremely proud to hold such office and he also thanked everyone who contributes in such a wide variety of ways. Special appreciation on the night was expressed to Jackie and Ricky Ninnis, both recovering from a recent road accident but who were determined to be present at the meeting to take the attendance register, as they have done for many years.
Several members also praised the officers and committee, commenting that during a time when the club is again at a crossroads and navigating a challenging course, credit and support was due them all.
In response, Scott said “The committee is really good to work with, they together know what they want, and everyone is trustworthy.” He added “Besides importantly recognised as a business, Penzance & Newlyn RFC is also a great club, in a great environment and we know where we are going.”
As things progress, with the expected move of the Cornish Pirates to Truro, there will much to consider. Also, if the set up becomes a club in its own right, then Penzance & Newlyn RFC, with status as a community club, should be able to obtain funding opportunities that it at present – because the Cornish Pirates form a professional team – is unable to tap into.
To conclude what had been such a positive AGM, Scott advised that a main aim was to protect the Penzance & Newlyn RFC name, and to be open and honest as things develop. Any big decision or decisions would also not be taken without calling an Extraordinary General Meeting.