At March 31, 2008, there were 12,637 of us - full members of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club! The figure has fallen in the five years since 2003, when there were 13,836 registered members, but the decline seems to be slowing (last year the membership stood at 12,791), thanks no doubt to the Come and Try initiatives and the work of the Area Development Officers. Junior membership has increased from 797 to 862 in the past year.
Why I mention this figure today is that come Saturday all these full members could have a direct say in the organisation of our sport. At the AGM of the Royal Club at the Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld, there is one very important item on the agenda, and that is 'To introduce measures giving individual registered curlers the right to vote at General Meetings and in Elections for the President, Vice President and Directors'.
One of the outcomes from the deliberations of the Representational Review Working Group has been to propose the introduction of ‘One Curler, One Vote’. The Group and the Board believe that this will give more of a say in the running of the Royal Club to individual curlers and allow them a direct input into the decision making process. The changes proposed will also allow the casting of votes by post or by proxy.
Currently, the membership is represented by votes carried by a representative of their club. Each club, no matter how large or how small, has one vote. Most can't even be bothered to send a representative to the AGM. Last year only 104 of the country's 568 clubs were represented at Glenrothes.
In practical terms, individuals will receive two mailings each year, one at the start of the season with their membership card, replacing the members' brochure mailing, and one in May with the AGM notice, annual report and voting papers. This is not expected to cost significantly more than the two mailings which were sent to the membership last year.
Ironically, 75% of the representative members who attend on Saturday will have to vote in favour of the change for it to happen. Will the proposal be adopted? Many think not. Curlers are notoriously conservative. A least one Province has encouraged its clubs to vote against the motion. The one member one vote may well turn out to be a vote of confidence in the Royal Club.
Regardless of what happens on Saturday, the Royal Club has a difficult future. There are a number of issues outstanding. Not the least of these is the ongoing problem of representation - and the concept that there should be just one Royal Club Standing Committee, doing away with the current Ladies' Committee structure. Much discussion and consultation has yet to take place on this and, although it is bound to be mentioned on Saturday, there will be no recommendations put to the members this time around.
Then there is the Vernon issue, and the apparent lack of action by the Royal Club to investigate this, to find out what went wrong, what lessons can be learned, and what needs to be changed to ensure that such a situation doesn't happen again. What happened when a conduct panel convened last Monday? Will we find out on Saturday?
The purchase of the Lees painting has not been completed, and members await an update on this. Currently it is on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland who are still trying to raise the money to buy it.
Then of course, no-one wanted to be Royal Club vice-president. Thankfully at least one name has come forward, that of Bill Marshall (see here). But he will only be elected if the membership votes to allow his late application to go through. Matt Murdoch will be elected unopposed as the Club's President.
It may be the final time in the spotlight for Mike Ferguson, the Board Chairman, who stands down on Saturday after heading up the Board through its first few formative years.
The Annual Report of the Royal Club can be downloaded from the Royal Club website here.
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