After ten years as your Chairman, this is the most difficult email I’ve ever had to send you. When you elected me a decade ago, debts were well over half a million pounds and rising, membership was falling, plant and equipment were failing, the building was falling apart. The club was rapidly accelerating towards the brink of closure.
But together, we turned things around. Year on year, debts repaid, members recruited, fees frozen, facilities renovated, historic features restored and ambitious plans to secure the future, developed and agreed with you the members.
But now we all face a massive new challenge. The pandemic has hit families hard, cost livelihoods, cost lives. Membership of a health club is the least of people’s worries. At a time when businesses are losing customers hand over fist, I’ve been really touched that so few of you have cancelled your membership.
Indeed it’s at times like this that I’m so glad we’re a community, a member-owned club rather than a commercial enterprise. But I know it’s tough out there for so many people and there will come a time when some of you simply won’t be able to pay your fees in full. That’s entirely understandable. It’s a bewildering, frightening and in many cases devastating time. But, like you, I hope we can help each other through. I hope we can do all we can together as we look forward to an end to this crisis.
We’ve cut running costs to as near zero as safely possible. We’ve assured our loyal staff we’ll do all we can to pay their wages and save their jobs. We’re investigating every single source of Government support. Like many organisations out there, we have heard the political promises, but don’t yet have the cash. That said, we are hopeful the Scottish and UK Governments will live up to their pledges. If not, in simple terms, the survival of the baths will be entirely in our own hands.
I’m heartened by all of you who emailed to wish the club and our staff well. I’m humbled by your testimonials (that you can see on our website, Facebook and Twitter). And I’m immensely grateful for the generosity of members offering additional financial support.
So, I’m asking you to stick with us, as we do have options. If you can afford it, I hope you’ll continue to pay your fees in full. That way we’ll be able to support our staff, pay off the last of our debts and continue restoring your beautiful club.
If your circumstances make that difficult, I can offer you choices. If you click the link in the email you will have received, you can authorise our General Manager to reduce your monthly Direct Debit to 75%, 50% or 30% (the bare minimum to cover staff wages and other club costs at present membership levels).
We don’t yet know when any degree of normality will return and I recognise your circumstances may change, so I’ll write to you regularly to offer you the chance to update the option you chose now.
We’ve survived this long, because generations of members, stuck with us through extremely difficult and challenging times. The 11th of July 2020 is our 150th birthday. Our party may be on hold, but after this, we can all be back together again celebrating our wonderful pond, our stunning Turkish Suite, our fantastic gymnasium and everything else we love about being a member of the Arlington family.
Best wishes, stay safe and take care of each other.
Chairman (2010 -2020...)