Esteemed Members,

Welcome to the 2024 Annual General Meeting!


As we reflect on the past year, I am thrilled to share the countless achievements and vibrant moments that have defined our exceptional and much-loved Club. Together we’ve woven a tapestry of positivity and camaraderie, setting the stage for an even brighter future ahead. Our treasured Club, steeped in 142 years of history, is pulsating with life and connection. Thanks to all of you.


We have harnessed the power of technology to propel our Club into the future, making the strategic leap to Xero for our accounting. This savvy move has revolutionised our financial stewardship, bringing us into an era of unprecedented efficiency and transparency. It’s a shining example of how, side-by-side we are upholding our legacy of excellence.


2023 has been a year of introspection and growth, as well as fond farewells, and enthusiastic welcomes. We’ve turned the page on Kevin Lorimer‘s storied chapter as our General Manager, a narrative rich, with 20 years of devotion. The warmth of our tribute to him, spoke volumes about the deep connections that knit us together here at the Club. With open arms, we ushered in Julian Bounds as our new GM. With his unwavering professionalism and resilience, Julian has guided us through a period during which our staff compliment has evolved and changed rapidly, ensuring our Club thrives.


The parting of Alis, our Deputy Manager after a 14-year tenure, left a poignant space in our midst but her legacy of commitment lives on as Liv steps forward, infusing the role of Deputy Manager with her dynamic verve, and steadfast commitment, promising to uphold and elevate the leadership and member engagement, that are our Club’s cornerstone. 


The soul of our Club is encapsulated in two priceless jewels: the grandeur of our building itself, now worth around £8 million, and the most irreplaceable treasure that is you, our members. Your insights and active engagement form the life blood of our fellowship, steering us on a perpetual quest for growth and innovation.


This year, the Club has continued to expand its social program of events under the leadership of Julienne Davies, who chairs the social subcommittee and who has done a fantastic job. Members enjoy monthly film nights, well-being talks, dining and lunch functions with guest speakers, all of which are well received and well attended. Most recently, and thanks to the hard work and efforts of our member Angie Smith we now have a Bridge Club which has proved to be very popular.  As many of you will recall, we had a few very special evenings when members got involved in producing a memorable event. In March, at the suggestion of our member Martin Coakley, we commemorated 50 years of the death of Noel Coward. Martin, along with fellow member, William Edwards provided us with entertainment during a delicious dinner, and the nostalgia of Noël Coward. In May we held a majestic dinner to celebrate the coronation of our new King Charles the Third. In September, we had a dinner to commemorate 50 years of Concorde’s inaugural flight. The evening was organised with great style by two of our members, Ian Smith, who was a Concorde pilot, and Catherine Clare, who was a Concorde Cabin Service Director. The thought and preparation that went into the evening, made it an evening to remember, and we are very grateful to both of them for all their time and effort. I’m quite sure that I am not the only person to miss seeing that beautiful iconic bird in the sky!


As you all know we have a nominated Charity every year. In 2023 our chosen Charity became ‘Real Change’ which is a Guildford based Charity for the homeless. Thanks to various fund-raising events during the year and in particular our Annual Golf Day, organised by Club Director John Denny, we are able to present ‘Real Change’ with £9,360.00! In addition to this large amount, one of our members has donated an extra £5,000.00!


Our decision to extend our hospitality to Thursday evenings as well as Friday has proved very popular, and with the upturn in footfall, I feel confident that opening on both these evenings will be sustained. I would encourage members to book ahead as it is very helpful to our chef Ivan, who manages the unpredictable number of covers so well, and continues to provide a varied and delicious menu. I am also delighted to confirm that we are able to re-open the Club on Mondays from Monday April 8th. We will not be offering a food service, but drinks and a full bar service will be available. Opening times will be published in the newsletter and this is for a 3-month trial period. We will monitor usage and review the position at the end of May so please use the Club on Mondays to make it financially viable.


Moving now to Membership. I am happy to report that as of today we have 370 Members and 120 Spouse Members. As the membership has grown, new members have been embraced and welcomed by both the staff and Members. I have yet to hear a negative comment about the unique ambience of our Club, which I think you will agree is warm and welcoming. We recently arranged reciprocal membership with City Livery Club in London and I am delighted to report that one of their members has already visited us and thanked us for the warm welcome he and his family received. Some of our Members have muted the idea of being proactive about visiting the Clubs with which we have reciprocation. If any Members do visit, please would you be kind enough to give us feedback.


Reflecting on members who have died, we hold tight to the memories, and the enduring impact they’ve imprinted on our hearts, serving as a poignant reminder of life‘s preciousness and the paramount importance of our fellowship. Sadly, since our last AGM, John Hill, Patrick Dowling, Chris Mitchell, John Reeves, Oliver McGeachy, Roddy Long, Tony Edgley, Pam Palmer, and Rosamond Davis are no longer with us. May they rest in peace!


We are now attracting younger individuals who are infusing our Club with younger perspectives and innovative ideas, refreshing our community, and ensuring that our cherished Club’s legacy will endure and thrive for countless years ahead. As we embrace these progressive changes, we do so, with the certainty that the heart and soul of our Club remains steadfast. The warmth, camaraderie, and belonging that define us, are growing stronger, fortified by new faces, fresh ideas, and the unwavering spirit of togetherness, that is the hallmark of our Club. As we move forward, let us do so with open hearts and minds, ready to welcome all possibilities. Together we will build on our illustrious legacy, creating a future that’s not only bright, but also filled with laughter, learning, and shared experiences.


Thank you once again for being the life blood of our Club. Your enthusiasm, support, and active participation make our Club a very special place. 


You will note from your AGM papers that Matthew Gambold is standing for the Board. This vacancy has been made available because Adrian England, our long-standing Honorary Club Secretary, has resigned a year earlier than he needed to, in the interests of succession. Thank you, Adrian, for your 11 years of loyal service and devotion to the Club. Finally, I cannot end this report without thanking all my fellow Board Directors. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to each of you for your unwavering loyalty, exceptional support and hard work. Your dedication has been the cornerstone of our Club’s success. Together we have achieved great milestones, and I look forward to the continued collaboration that propels us to even greater heights. Thank you for your outstanding contributions.


Jane Derbyshire


March 2024