President's Message - April

Our 115th Anniversary

Thank you to our special guests His Excellency General David Hurley AC DSC Governor of New South Wales and Mrs Hurley, and our many members and guests and who made our 115th anniversary celebration on 17 March 2018 such a success.

Our members and guests gratefully received  His Excellency’s detailed dissertation of the history of Sydney and RACA, the change in Circular Quay commencing with Governor Macquarie’s vision for Sydney Town, the advocacy of motorists and road rules by the Club, the provision of cars by Club members to assist the First Australian Imperial Force and transport wounded soldiers, and punctuated with subtle humour, a speech which we will preserve for our Club ’s history.

We were pleased  to welcome our  past Presidents Mr Gavin Thomas, Mr Bruce Fischer and Mr Ross Wagland and our Ladies President Mrs Margaret Dawes-Smith OAM, members of our interest groups, our esteemed defence force members, our lady members, including our Women’s Pioneer Society, Motor Enthusiasts, Corks ‘N ’ Forks, Snooker and Bridge groups.  

Mr Bayne Kelly was unfortunately out of Sydney but sent his best wishes for  a successful evening, as did Colonel Haynes  who could not be with us.

 

Ladies Committee 50th Anniversary

On Monday 26 March 2018, the Ladies Committee celebrated their 50th year anniversary, having been first established in 1968. As an independent  and autonomous Committee within the Club, our women have been  without pier in their contribution to both the preservation and growth of this Club, providing an open  monthly forum for the coming together of club members and guests, for all who may wish to attend.

Mrs Margaret Dawes-Smith OAM has led the Ladies Committee for 25 years with unstinting commitment and success, never failing to attract a wide range of guests, including authors, fashion designers, politicians, art commentators, retired senior detectives and journalists to name but a few, to entertain and fascinate the attendees of any age and gender, both members and guests. Such effort and devotion is an attribute confined to special people who are prepared to inconspicuously give for the benefit of many. Margaret and her Committee  have adopted the NSW Cancer Council as a worthy Community partner for their support. These pursuits  complement Mrs Margaret Dawes-Smith’s wonderful career in education shaping our youth for the future. 

 

Life membership for Mrs Margaret Dawes-Smith OAM

As announced at the Ladies Committee 50th anniversary lunch, the Board has unanimously resolved to convene a special meeting of members to elect Mrs Margaret Dawes-Smith OAM as a life member of the Club for her magnificent contribution to our Club over many years. An appropriate venue to hold both the special meeting and also celebrate such an important recognition of achievement will be to hold the meeting prior to the commencement of the Ladies Committee luncheon in June 2018, which provides an opportunity for all present to stay and experience first hand a 50 year old institution known as our ladies Committee luncheon. Notices of that meeting will be sent to members in early April 2018.

 

Our future

The landscape of Club life in the city of Sydney has changed significantly over the past decade with financial pressures seeing the closure of a number of established Clubs, including the Associated Schools Club, The American Club and the current plans to redevelop City Tattersalls Club and the transformation of Tattersalls Club. In part those pressures have resulted from a diminution of membership and the failure of such Clubs to attract and hold new members. This Club has survived for over a century with one of the best locations in the world with the support of its members, who again have significantly reduced in number over the past 25 years. It is important to sustain current interest groups that constitute the corpus of our membership and stimulate further interests who need a base in Sydney, as do our country members who greatly support our Club.

That said, 115 years of wear and tear on a building opened on 23 March 1928 by the then Governor Admiral Sir Dudley Rawson Stratford de Chair, as noted in his speech by His Excellency, requires constant vigilance and cost to maintain such a heritage masterpiece on the shores of Sydney. There have been a recent views expressed by some members that room refurbishments should remain of heritage character rather than a modern touch which may not be in keeping with the building. The challenge for the Club is that to carry out such refurbishments would require capital expenditure in the order of $50,000 per room or well in excess of $1 million, in addition to the urgently needed funds to refurbish Albert Street (upwards of $2 million). These are minimum immediate requirements for such a building. Your current Board continues to search out feasibilities to not only provide necessary funds without any significant upward pressure on membership subscriptions, but also preserving such a historic location for the next century.

Being a not for profit Club with modest annual surpluses (which is constantly under pressure from  increasing costs, small annual decline in total membership and use of some Club services) there is constant challenge for Board and management that requires, and will require, responsible and diligent examination and communication with members to ensure we all work together to achieve a secure and sustainable future for many years to come.

The first priority is to maintain and grow membership. It is also a short to medium term priority to  secure capital reserves necessary to preserve and provide our members their place on the shores of Circular Quay and all of their required services, thereby ensuring that this Club secures the next century of its  existence and service of the community.

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