Letter from our chairman about court resurfacing

To all members of Halesworth Tennis Club

At the recent AGM, I informed the membership that we have a looming crisis and that is the increasing urgency to resurface both courts.  The condition of the courts has deteriorated over the last 12 months due to a combination of 2 factors – the general ageing of the courts' surface combined with the extreme temperatures of last summer followed by the cold & wet of autumn/winter.  You will have noticed there are now a few 'dips' in the surface plus the tarmac is actually crumbling in places.  Apart from causing more bad bounces than you'd expect on a hard court, it will inevitably become a trip hazard; and once we reach that point, the courts may become unplayable.

During the winter, we have had 3 specialist companies come and look at the courts.  When I say 'specialist', I mean companies that only deal with tennis court creation from scratch, ongoing court maintenance such as moss removal, and then patching and/or resurfacing work when required.  All the specialists agree that further patching would be a waste of our money and that we have to accept that a court surface does have a finite life.  I can't give an exact date when the courts were last resurfaced but it was at least 30 years ago.  So we shouldn't be surprised that we've reached this stage.

We have had some indicative quotations of what the whole job will cost and it will be in the region of £40,000 including vat.  As and when we get to the point of knowing we can afford to have the job done, we'll of course go out to tender from a number of sources before deciding which contractor to use.

The policy of our club has been to keep member subscriptions as low as possible.  We are a community-based club and we don't want to put people off playing tennis due to cost.  This means that we set the member subscriptions at a level to cover the regular annual outgoings with just a small contingency/reserve fund that has built up to currently stand at around £7,500.  (You might recall that we spent around £5,000 from reserves about 18 months ago to convert the floodlights to LED lighting.)

Those are the stark facts.  The bottom line is that if we are unable to fund the court resurfacing, it won't be long before Halesworth Tennis Club ceases to exist.  That's something I'm sure none of us wish to see happen.

There is one more important fact – we hope to apply for a number of external grants and possibly, if necessary, we might need to apply for an interest-free loan from Suffolk LTA.  However, our initial enquiries suggest that grants tend to be based on 'matched funding' – this means that for every pound of grant aid, the grantor wants to see a pound contributed by the club.  This is both good & bad news; the bad news is that we, the members, are going to need to dig deep; the good news is that on the basis of matched funding, we probably will only need to raise around £20,000 and not the full £40,000.

At the AGM, it was agreed that we'd approach this in 3 ways:-

First, we have already ringfenced a bank deposit account for funds to be applied just to this one single resurfacing project.  To get things started, the Club has placed into this account £6,000 from its reserves.  Putting in every penny of our reserves would be foolish.

Secondly, we would then come out to you, the members, as I'm doing now, put the facts to you and ask you to make a one-off voluntary donation to this ringfenced account.  All donations will be held in this account and not applied to any other purpose.  Unless you choose to make the donation anonymously, we will keep a record of all individual donations and we confirm that in the event that we are unable to proceed with the resurfacing within a reasonable period of time, say in the next 12-18 months, then we will refund all donations to the individuals concerned.

You can donate whatever you feel.  Personal circumstances differ.  As an indicative amount, if every adult member donated £100, that would immediately add over £5,000 to the pot.  Some may feel they wish to donate more than £100; that's great; if you feel £100 is too much but you're able to donate a smaller amount, your donation will still be of great value.

The Committee is currently considering the third fundraising method (no, there's no robbery planned!).  We will be looking at a variety of options but obviously it will include applying for any grants that might be available.

But to get us on the road, it is really down to you, the members, and your support for this project.  You can really give this a kickstart and get us over the first £10,000 target and heading for the £20,000 that is required.  We on the board of trustees will be so gratified to know that we have the members' support and that will, I'm sure, spur us on to do our utmost to make this happen.  Our club is valued by us all.  We have very little to offer by way of facilities other than 2 floodlit courts in a pleasant location with easy access.  Without the courts, there will be no club; it's as simple as that.

How do you make a donation?  For on-line banking, these are the details you'll need:

Account name:       Halesworth Tennis Club

Sort code:               40-23-04

Account number:  71049283

Your reference:      Please put your name so we can return your donation should the project not proceed. 

For those who prefer cheques, please pass your cheque to any member of the committee.