Thank you to everyone who attended the AGM. It’s great to see you all, answer your questions and explain what we are doing on your behalf. The AGM is probably the only opportunity we will have to do this until the end of the membership year in March.
Please refer to the AGM minutes for details on the formal part of the meeting. This newsletter will attempt to summarise the club meeting we held after the AGM and pass on any other relevant information.
In my last newsletter I suggested we could not let our guard down. This remains the case. Active COVID cases in Wiltshire ,this week number 9,373. This number has risen since the AGM and now includes a couple of our members. The booster programme is slowly gaining pace, but many of our older members (50 and above) will not yet have been able to get booster jabs or flu jabs, so we need to be cautious.
Please don’t attend the club if you have any COVID symptoms, feel unwell, have family members who have tested positive or have tested positive yourself.
Paddling and activity update
The junior winter programme is underway. From the end of British Summer Time we made some changes. Parents of juniors paddling in the dark will now need to provide written parental consent. We have also decided to allow juniors to elect to take part in either the race training or recreational programme. Whilst juniors will need to register for one or the other programme, paddlers and parents will be able to self-select which programme they join and the two groups will follow different training programmes. Anna Overton is the programme coordinator for the juniors.
The adult senior winter programme is gaining pace with longer distance paddles and structured training on Sundays. It’s suitable for potential DW entrants, anyone who enjoys the challenge of a longer paddle and a trip away from the club at least once every month. The boat trailer is often available for these trips, but we do recommend that crews are supported on longer paddles and all paddlers must make arrangements for support crews after Christmas. Dan Colby is the point of contact for this programme.
Also this season we have been invited to send crews to the Avon CC marathon. This isn’t a SW region Hasler, but will use the future Hasler courses at Saltford Rowing Centre, on the River Avon near Bath. Supporting Avon CC by entering will help them gain confidence to run a SW region Hasler in 2022 just one hour from Devizes. Avon CC are also looking at running a 5km time trial series over the winter. Nigel Chivers is the point of contact for these two local events. Please take advice from your coaches on which events you should enter.
Our successful 2021 introductory programmes generated many new club members. Welcome to you all! We do our best to provide what you need, and generally do so. If we’re not offering what you expected or want, please let us know so we can do something about it. Sue Colby (Deputy Chair) is the point of contact for club operations, can point you in the right direction and introduce you to other members.
I understand we now have a waiting list for junior members. We don’t cap our membership although our junior programme is limited by the amount of equipment and the number of coaches and volunteers available. We will review the situation in the new year and see how many new paddlers we can integrate.
Facilities and local developments
We will be organising some deep cleaning and decoration teams on a weekend in March to keep the club building in good order. Emma O’Hare and Stuart Colby will publish the date. Please let us know if you have useful skills and are willing to get involved. We will need ‘many hands to make light work’ on the day when the work is organised.
The club is well aware that plans are in the public domain to develop the Assizes Court as a future home for the Wiltshire Museum and Wadworth & Co’s plans to move the brewing operations to a new site in Devizes. We are actively engaging with the consultation process being undertaken by both parties and with Wiltshire Council, our landlord. We intend to take opportunities, should they arise, to enhance and extend the club’s facilities as these projects progress. We can see a number of opportunities to improve facilities, once the development plans are available. We already have a good idea of what we would like to achieve, though there are no guarantees we will be able to secure additional space. During 2019/2020 we engaged (unsuccessfully) to get access to the Wadworth & Co cellarage building and Canal Forge. We expect both buildings, or the space they occupy, now to be integrated with the Assizes Court project and do not believe that either will be available to the canoe club.
The Devizes Assizes Court Trust believe it could take between five and ten years to deliver the project assuming some £10 million in funding can be raised for the building costs and professional fees. The brewery intends to be operational on its new site by mid-2023, and will sell the site, once decommissioned, to a developer with planning permission as soon as possible. We believe the brewery quarter development will happen first and will include access from the wharf car park to the Assizes Court site.
The Club Trustees have no concerns about the long-term viability of the club site. We have a 125 year lease and 25 year leases on the section of Lower Wharf roadway within club boundaries and the launch area. This, with a legally sound right of access over the Lower Wharf roadway, gives us complete security and a strong hand in any negotiations.
We are aware people working on behalf of Wiltshire Council, Wadworth & Co and the Assizes Court (Wiltshire Historic Buildings Trust) have been around the club site taking photographs in connection with site redevelopment. This is to be expected and should not cause alarm. Please pass on anything you hear and refer any enquiries to Mark Bouch, Chris Jones or Jon Scaplehorn who will lead the Club’s response.
We believe that a pedestrian crossing on Bath Road opposite the Assizes Court is a possible outcome of the project and we will engage with Wiltshire Council and DACT to make the case for one. Typically it takes years to complete the work required to establish a new pedestrian crossing to be put on a main road, so please don’t hold your breath!
At the AGM we highlighted two policies launched in 2021: the DCC Disciplinary, Disputes and Appeals policy and the DCC payments to volunteers policy. Both are intended to tighten up governance processes and both are published on the club website. We hope not to have to make too much use of the first of these policies!
We also announced the launch of new Club Codes of Conduct. There are three relevant policies and they are now published on our website:
- The DCC Club Code of Conduct. This has been updated and adopted by the committee. Its contents apply to all members.
- Junior and Junior Parent Codes of Conduct have been developed specifically for the junior section. Junior paddlers and parents will be required to sign them to participate in the programme.
- Racing Etiquette guidelines apply to all competitive events. They describe the standards we expect from our paddlers and supporters.
Club policies are subject to systematic review at regular intervals. Up to date, versions are always on the club website and changes will be highlighted by email updates.
The next policy we will look at is the usage policy for club boats following changes to our rules encourage greater use of club boats by individual paddlers earlier this year.
The club’s policy remains that members should, wherever possible, purchase their own equipment and not expect to rely on club kit.
We know it is not practical for every junior parent to own and regularly upgrade boats as their paddlers grow and develop, so we do intend to supply boats suitable for junior paddlers. The club has a small number of development K1s available for juniors but will not buy ‘advanced’ K1s, so, if your junior intends to take racing seriously, you should plan to acquire a suitable K1 as soon as possible. We also encourage every parent to buy their own paddles and buoyancy aids. Crew boats are available to borrow and may be loaned (for a fee and damage deposit) for the DW.
For adults, we do not supply boats for DW or for racing. The club boats are intended to help you progress to a point where you can buy a suitable boat, although we will allow crews to borrow crew boats until Christmas so they can make plans to acquire a suitable boat for the race based on their training progress.
For everyone, we have a club discount if we buy in bulk from Marsport. Sue Colby is coordinating requirements, so please get in touch if you would like to take advantage of this deal.
We reviewed the club’s vision and strategy for 2021-2025. We have seven ambitions for the club, each with a clear statement of intent to provide guidance and focus for annual objectives. These will be published on the website soon. Our annual action plan will be updated again in March. We encourage everyone to get involved in at least one of the club’s ambitions. You can do so by participating in activities, volunteering to help the delivery team and/or helping to deliver activities and events. Our seven ambitions for the next five years are:
Ambition 1. Promote and provide facilities for sport and recreational canoeing for the Devizes community. Contact Mark Bouch/Chris Jones
Ambition 2. Develop coaches, volunteers and leaders. Contact James Mahoney/Emma O’Hare
Ambition 3. Provide healthy competitive or recreational opportunities for all age groups, genders and ability levels. Contact: Sue Colby (Adults)/Anna Overton (Juniors)
Ambition 4. Increase competitive excellence in the two flat water disciplines. Contact: Nigel Chivers/Trevor Hunter
Ambition 5. Increase participation and engagement. Contact: Anna Overton/Mark Bouch
Ambition 6. Attract new paddlers to the sport of canoeing. Contact: Sue Colby/Katie Scaplehorn
Ambition 7. Achieve ‘top tier’ club status for a medium-sized club. Contact: Mark Bouch/Chris Jones
If you would like to find out more – please ask!
We welcomed James Mahoney to the club committee as Head of the Club Coaching Group. James will focus on developing coaching strategy for the club to support our strategic ambitions. This will involve defining our approach, ensuring we deliver consistently and ensure paddler progression for racing and recreational paddlers. He will be planning ahead to identify future coaching requirements and how we develop and support new and existing coaches and paddlesport leaders. This role is really important for our future development and will help our existing coaches focus on programme delivery.
We intend to hold the club awards evening for 2021/22 in March 2022 and our AGM in July 2022. We will publish dates and details in due course.
Best wishes and happy paddling!