John Hughes

John Hughes

John Hughes is the current Chairman of Surrey Squash. His primary remit is overseeing the strategic and operational governance of the sport in our region in association with elected trustees, committee members and volunteers, to achieve our five stated initiatives.

I am pleased to present my report for the year 2022/2023

Introduction

Last year I took the opportunity to highlight the various achievements of players, clubs, coaches and volunteers throughout the county and London Boroughs, not just to rightly celebrate everyone’s successes, but to illustrate the resilient nature of our wider squash family as we bounced back from lockdown.

Suffice to say individual and collective achievements have continued throughout this year and, with the advent of our new website, I will leave it to you to learn more at surreysquash.co.uk.

This year I take the opportunity to focus on our development activities “within” the county organisation, whilst highlighting the continuing challenges we face.

In memorium

Don Frankland
Even if you have only a passing interest in squash in Surrey, I would be very surprised if you didn’t know the Frankland name, whether it’s the achievements on and off the court of our Director of Squash, Neil, or the burgeoning coaching career of Ella or, perhaps, the (very much) older juniors will have fond memories of coach Roz.

Husband, father, grandfather, Don was an integral part of squash in the county for over 40 years, becoming Chairman of the then Surrey Junior Squash Committee in 1981.

In 1986 Don became a trustee of the Vernon Ely Trust (latterly the SSRA Junior Trust), which helped provide financial support to promising juniors such as Stacey Ross, Danny Meddings, Paul Gregory, Mark Baker and, of course, Neil.

Don willingly and freely gave up his time to support all things squash, including serving as Chairman of Woking Squash Club for many years.

On a personal note, I was lucky to know Don from my time as a junior in the 80’s to being a co-trustee of SSRA Junior Trust with him in recent years and he was always full of joy about squash and those who played it.

Chairman’s Statement: New initiatives, same challenges

Three major tenets of maintaining and developing our sport are: communication, funding and people, the absence of any one of which would ultimately result in failure.

Communication

In recent years we have invested in developing our new website because we see this as the primary communication tool for Surrey Squash. As well as promoting county representation at all ages (coaching sessions, inter-county team updates and tournament results) the site is a powerful promotional tool for you and your club to advertise graded tournaments on our centralised diary or championing your own success stories.

An interactive map helps newcomers find both clubs and coaches near them and this can be updated as and when clubs require. There are case studies highlighting how clubs have grown participation, along with various guides for parents and coaches to aid the development of playing and coaching careers.

There is an extensive database of documents covering rules of play, conduct requirements and safeguarding. You can also find information about our Constitution and financials.

The intention is that the site will grow and develop as demand dictates and if you are not already doing so, I would urge you to visit and interact with the site on a regular basis.

The website is supported by a monthly newsletter and to ensure that this is seen by as many people as possible (increasing its value for all of us) please sign up for this to receive details about events, tournaments, and coaching sessions as well as other news from our community. Once again, this is your newsletter, so please use it to promote your own activities.

For updates and additions to the club and coach finder, or to have a news article included on the website and in the newsletter, please contact Clare Wright via the website.

Funding/finance

Income: £54,770 (£53,833)
Expenditure: £49,580 (£51,366)
Net gain: £ 5,190 ( £2,467) (prior year in brackets)
Total funds on 30 April 2023: £215,395, of which cash £68,370

Please note the reduction in funds, despite recording a gain, is due to movements in the financial markets negatively impacting the value of our investment portfolio.

As I have said for several years now, it is my view that the only way we can safeguard the long-term future of our sport at grassroots level, is to endeavour to achieve financial independence for Surrey Squash.

Our primary source of income is from league and tournament entry fees and junior subscriptions, but this alone is not enough to fund all activities in the county.

We also receive an annual rebate from England Squash, calculated by reference to declared courts and individual England Squash memberships and we receive the established Surrey Squash Affiliation fee, which has remained at £5 per adult and £2 per junior since inception.

Finally, we are very lucky to receive some donations and occasional grant money. As has been well publicised, England Squash will be changing how their fees are collected and administered, which will result in a lower rebate to county associations (albeit phased over a few years). Potentially more critically, this change will also mean that England Squash will no longer administer the collection of the Surrey Squash affiliation fee, placing a considerable administrative burden on our limited resources.

This, coupled with the perennial threat of reducing participation in, not only squash, but sport in general, could see a material reduction in our finances over the next few years.

As well as looking to attract more donations and sponsorship, the most efficient way of, not only sustaining, but hopefully, improving our finances is to retain and attract more organisations (such as leisure centres), players and coaches, that critically engage with the county, ultimately driving revenue.

People

As mentioned in my statement last year, (I’m sure you remember) we were hoping to engage a new Head of Club Development and I am delighted to confirm that Joe Lee, former world number 29 joined us on a fixed term contract, with the primary remit of increasing participation at all levels throughout the county and London Boroughs. Joe’s drive, determination, creative thinking, and good humour has been a boon to
Surrey Squash and here are some highlights from the last year:

New Coaches
Surrey Squash supported the training of three new Level 2 coaches in 2023: Sonny Flint,
Ellie Thomas, and Martin Lowes. Martin has initiated new squash 57 (racketball) and women’s sessions at New Malden and Tolworth Recreation Centre. Sonny and Ellie, both former junior representatives of Surrey, are assisting with this season’s county junior squads and have contributed to the launch of additional club sessions at Sutton, New Malden, and Purley.

Leisure Centres
We launched beginner courses at Tolworth Recreation Centre, with plans to extend sessions to Tolworth Girls and Southborough High Schools soon. Thriving internal leagues have been discovered at several South London Leisure Centres including Balham, Tooting and Brixton. We’re establishing a “social league” for them to take a step into inter-club competition.

Ambitious proposals for Woking Leisure Centre and Brixton Recreation Centre are in progress, with discussions for junior programmes, Squash 57, and women’s sessions to launch this season.

Workshops
Joe Lee and Miles Jenkins conducted a movement-themed workshop for coaches at St. George’s Hill in July.

Joe Lee and Ellie Thomas delivered a refereeing and rules workshop at Redhill Squash Club in April.

Exhibitions
Surrey has helped arrange an exhibition evening to celebrate Sheen Squash Club’s 50th anniversary on September 30th. The event will feature exhibition matches with Laura Massaro, Torrie Malik, Joe Lee, and Jordan Warne.

London Youth Games
Planning has started for squash’s reintroduction to the London Youth Games in 2024. We are doing all we can to help our eight London Boroughs to field teams in next year’s competition.

Joe has worked alongside the existing Surrey Squash team, which comprises both volunteers and paid team members, united in their passion for the sport.

Although I am confident that we have secured the services of all concerned for another year, we are keen to add volunteers, committee members and trustees to ultimately transition governance and operation of Surrey Squash to new blood in a measured and controlled manner.

So please, if you are interested in joining Surrey Squash at any level, let us know.

Conclusion

Another good year, as we continue to see successes on and off the court, and as always, I would like to thank my co-trustees, committee members, volunteers and paid team members for their hard work, diligence, and good humour.

Finances have remained robust enough to support meaningful outreach across our region in the year and I am hopeful this will continue. However, we remain mindful of the need for financial prudence and more volunteers to protect our long-term future.

So, remember:
• Sign up for the newsletter.
• Consider donating or explore sponsorship opportunities.
• Enter the Surrey Closed.
• If you can, volunteer.

Thank you

Chairman Signature

John Hughes
September 2023

To view this and previous chairman’s statements, reports and minutes, please visit our AGM page.