National President - Barry Durman -The Last Leg

OMG its nearly the end of my year as National President. It has been a complete honour and lots of fun. January to March has been packed with club visits, including some far afield - Jersey / Peterhead / Isle of Man / Guernsey / Dundee / Scarborough / North and South Wales / Kent. Still Dublin and the Isles of Scilly to do! I also sent vice President Dave Campbell to Stornaway recently, but he came back -lol.

I wish Dave all the best for next year - its a blast. I am sure he and Pauline will have great fun. I have found 41 Club in good heart up and down the country. Did you know that we have had 16 new clubs chartered over the last year! We have 10 resolutions at the AGM and 10 guys standing for contested Board positions - it is good that we have so much interest, but does mean that the AGM will go on a bit - we have ordered pies and pints to be served to keep the meeting quorate. Please stay until the end out of respect for those who are working hard to give us a good AGM

I am recovering quite well from the accident I had at the end of my John O'Groats to Lands End (JOGLE) charity cycle ride with my friend Colin Bowater. We have raised £22,000 to date with more coming in all the time. Thanks so much for your donations and good wishes. I am cycling the last 66 miles from Bodmin on Saturday 1st April. 

As well as all the visits there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes. Meetings to be chaired, our strategy and governance to be monitored, tricky issues to be dealt with - it is not all plain sailing! Most days I spend a couple of hours doing 41 Club administration.

I am delighted that this year we have a brilliant program of Fellowship events. These are covered elsewhere and shown in detail on the events calendar page, but I list them here (I shall attend them all):

1 Sports and Social Weekend in Okehampton in February - TICK

2 High Tiddle near Sheffield in March - TICK

3 Conference in Blackpool in April

4 Classic Car and Motorcycle Weekend in Ilkley in early June

5 41 / Tangent Cruise in August

6 Caravan and Camping Weekend near Oxford in early September

7 Iberian Cluster in Spain in November

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I leave below my thoughts from April when I took over as National President:

 Barry Durman, Shirley Late Knights – your National President. WOW. It’s amazing – little did I know that, when I cautiously joined 41 Club all those years ago, I would end up as your National President – it just goes to show that an ordinary guy can do extraordinary things in our movement (where have I heard that before?) I am just so proud to represent you all for the year and wear this chain of office, following in some very illustrious footsteps. It was brilliant to be able to start my year in my home town of Birmingham.

People have asked me what I’m going to do in my year. Well the first thing to realise is that it’s the AGM and then the National Council that makes most of the decisions – not the President and not the Board. So I would like to do 5 main things

  1. Chair the Board, National Council and next year’s AGMs fairly
  2. Keep our Association doing all the good things we enjoy so much at the moment
  3. Strive to better fulfil our vision to be the “Club of Choice after Round Table
  4. Keep focused on our 4 stated objectives
  5. Have some great fun and fellowship, visiting as many clubs as possible along the way

So there is good news and bad news – let’s start with the good news.

Well, the fellowship is good – we do lots of that - with 777 Clubs and 16195 members there are over 8500 club meetings each year, there is conference, Regional and Cluster Dinners and Charters, golf, the Classic Car Rally not to mention all the various spin off events each club organises with Tangent and Table – yes we certainly do lots of fellowship.

Well, international is good – we do lots of that – with 24 countries having 41 Clubs there are large numbers of opportunities to go overseas and meet like minded individuals who can become friends. Over the years I have been to Switzerland, Germany, France, Australia, South Africa, Sweden, Italy, Romania and India with 41 Club. There are very many long standing twinning arrangements as well – yes we certainly can do lots of international

Well, Community Service and Fundraising opportunities are good – we do quite a bit of that – 58% of our clubs do something, either supporting our Table if we have one, on Carolling, on Carnival, on the Fireworks or with the Beer Festival OR on our own such as the Wareham Beer Festival, Falkirk and York Ebor cycle rides. And yes we do collections for local good causes and donate to our speakers’ charities – Oh and we organise the Millennium Way and our garden at the National Arboretum - yes we certainly do quite a bit of Community Service when you ask around

Well, our relationship within the Round Table Family are often good – we do quite a bit with our other clubs – Tangent / Table / Circle. I wonder if you know it was me that first conceived this RT Family badge. We are working together more than ever before. We are also trying to use our recently acquired database of ex Round Tablers to add to our membership – yes many clubs certainly do lots of Round Table Family events.

Finally our Member Benefits are good – there are a growing number of them – and all for £14.50 a year – it really is good value. My 20 year old daughter thought it was £14.50 a month! There’s 10% off  Fred. Olsen cruises, special rates for travel insurance in case something goes wrong, Utility Warehouse saving you around £15 per month off your energy bills, around 20% off a brand new Hyundai (they really are fab cars and they have even given me one for the year because we have bought over 130 in the last few years, so please consider one if you are looking). Finally, I get £13.50 per month off my shopping bill at Sainsburys with my Wider Wallet card – yes that’s my annual subs repaid each month. Why more of you don’t take advantage of these offers beats me. Yes, we certainly have lots of benefits.

So what about the bad news? Well there are two bits of bad news – just two!:

Firstly, we really struggle to get guys to join in as National Councillors or deputies. It really is vital that we get these posts filled. It would also be good to get more of you contributing to the newsletter and magazine – just write about your club or your hobby – it’s not just for Board members to write articles. Guys, we cannot do this all ourselves.

Secondly, and by far the worst bad news, is that only 20% of leaving Tablers join their 41 Club and our numbers are slowly decreasing. I think it is a shame that, despite a majority being in favour, we haven’t opened our membership like Tangent have. While that is the case, our only source of new members is Table. Those 41 Clubs that still have their Table must become more attractive to leaving Tablers. Yes, they themselves have to be prepared to admit they are over 45 and stop hanging on in Table, but our clubs need to make more effort to modernise. National can set the tone, but clubs themselves have to be prepared to change.

What have we on National done about this?

We have today given under 45s complimentary membership, so they don't have to pay two lots of subscription.

We encourage clubs to have a more active program

We encourage clubs to do some Community Service, which we know attracts Tablers

We encourage the formation of new clubs where the old club is just not suitable

We encourage clubs to organise extra, more active nights

We do lots on social media to let the younger element know what’s going on

We have newsletters/magazines and a new website to publicise it all

We have benefits I spoke about just now

We will continue to do these things, whilst being aware that very many clubs have no Round Table and are therefore getting older each year – we must not forget them.

So what am I going to do?

Try and reduce the politics, the bureaucracy and long discussions on rules

Champion all the fellowship, international, community service and RT Family aspects of 41 Club that I mentioned earlier

Discourage the negative waves put out by some members, who do little and criticise a lot

Encourage ex Tablers to join by showing them that we do lots of stuff

Visit all 26 Regions, including the most northerly/southerly/westerly and easterly clubs in the country, but remember I need your invitations to your clubs

Try to get a National Councillor in every Region - we are 5 short.

Bombard facebook and twitter to show “we do lots of stuff”

I want to value the differences between our older dining clubs and the more active younger clubs – both have their place

And finally everywhere I go I will need to thank my sponsors for their support to help me in my year – Hyundai for the car, Viking Cruises for the amazing river cruise we are auctioning, Pertemps for their generosity and Impact Repair Centre for their donation.

So gentlemen, I ask you to go away from this AGM:

Clear about our vision to be “The Club of Choice after Round Table

Clear about our 4 objectives – Fellowship / International / Community Service / RT Family

Clear that we need to keep the good stuff going.

Proud to be a member of this fantastic organisation of ours – proud to wear our badge

Open to new ideas and change, to modernise where needed to encourage Tablers in

Active in support to the guys that organise our events – just book in!

As you know by now, my friends say that “there is only one Barry Durman” and that is true (google it) but I am going to work my socks off this year on your behalf and spread myself all around this wonderful organisation of ours

Gentlemen, bring it on!