The Armidale Club has taken a renewed approach to its facilities, programming and the needs of its members. After the appointment of a new Board of Directors, the Club has rekindled enthusiasm and energy, upgraded its facilities, and more than doubled its membership.
Building on some of the Club’s traditions, showcasing local and visiting musicians, as Armidale’s only alternative music venue, installation of a new games room and considering proposals for annual seasonal festivals are just some of the activities underway. We wanted to know more!
What is the Armidale Club?
The Armidale Club is a not-for-profit organisation which was initially formed as a social club in mid to late 1949 and officially incorporated under its Memorandum of Association on 8 February 1972. The Club has now evolved from what was fondly referred to as a traditional ‘gentlemen’s club’ to one that offers benefits to its diverse and ever increasing community membership. The Club has continued to retain many of its traditions, while also introducing some new programs and facilities in response to the needs of its members.
The Armidale Club is unique to our city. It is ‘The’ Armidale Club and provides the opportunity and circumstances for individuals and businesses within our community to join, network, participate and relax within a friendly, inclusive environment. The Club is not affiliated with any individual sports club, is not a just another hotel and recognises the diversity of its membership. Membership extends to craft and trades staff, retailers, professionals, administrators, retirees, students, teachers, academics, members of the hospitality industry and (of course) many of our acclaimed local musicians.
What’s happened since January?
At the Annual General Meeting held on 20 January 2011, members considered motions put by the previous Board of Directors to appoint liquidators. At that time, the Club was experiencing financial difficulties and diminishing membership, and on expert advice it appeared that the Club may have to close due to dwindling involvement of its membership and ongoing trading losses. That motion proposed to put the Club into liquidation to “… achieve an orderly sale of its assets, payment of its creditors and to distribute any remaining surplus”. The meeting was also held to consider any alternative motions or ideas that its members might have.
The motions put to liquidate the Club, however, were not accepted. The existing Board of Directors announced their immediate retirement and were replaced by six members that constituted a new Board of Directors, including: Christopher Serow (President), Martin Thrift (Vice President), Jack McCaw (Vice President), Breeze Trotman-Golden, Steve Norris, Liz Noble and David Collins (Secretary). Since that time, four additional members were invited to complement the mix of skills and expertise within the board, including Geoff Allen, Emily Blackburn, Carol Elder and Paul Mailfert. The Club has its day to day operations co-ordinated by Helen Connors, who oversees the bar operations and staff. Liz Noble, Steve Norris and Paul Mailfert also volunteer their time each week to clean beer lines and polish glasses.
The new Board secured a generous loan of funds on short notice from a private company to get the ball rolling, clear out creditors and start the process of upgrading and refurbishing the Club’s facilities. At a further general meeting of its membership, the new Board announced some of the initial plans it had determined to implement to get the Club back into shape. At that time, the Board announced the need for members to get behind the Club and opportunities to participate in some of the refurbishment, cleaning and operations.
It also announced that the ordinary trading hours would, for the time being, be reduced to Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings or otherwise by appointment for private functions, wedding receptions, birthdays and other events. By mid February 2011, confidence and interest in the Club escalated and within just 4 months, membership has now increased by more than 100% on its numbers since January.
The New England Community Mutual extended its support to the Club, recognising its importance as part of the local community by facilitating an extension to provide an interest only loan facility, to allow the Club to implement improvements in the short term.
What changes have been made to the Club’s premises?
In January, the Club premises looked tired, showed signs of age, and was desperately in need of some general repairs and maintenance. The snooker table dominated around 20% of the