Ours at Last
After long negotiations with Devon County Council
the buildings finally became ours in August 1982. The school was
ours at last!!!
A great many people helped during this period,
a few of whom are still committee members, the great deal of effort
and time spent by Laurence Smith on behalf of the Club talking to
Banks, Solicitors and reading numerous legal documents must be acknowledged
for without his expertise, and the enthusiasm of Dennis Clement
who’s energy kept the committee together through some difficult
times, the Club would not own its own premises today.
Running a Business
During the period from 1980 to 1982 many people
came forward to help the club and a positive spirit of enthusiasm
and commitment developed. As well as being hard work it was also
a lot of fun - ask anyone who stayed awake for 24 hours and ran
supporting laps at 5.40 in the morning!
However, in 1982 the committee realised that we
would shortly have commitments to repay loans and to maintain an
old building, and that this would be very difficult for an organisation,
which relied mainly on fund raising activities for its income. In
addition, the club only used the premises for two hours a night
and it was empty during every weekday. Although membership had increased
to nearly 150 there was clearly a great deal of potential for making
gymnastics available to even more children.
The trouble with loans and mortgages is that they
have to be repaid. The gym club was an entirely voluntary organisation
and relied completely on a small number of people to give up their
spare time to coach gymnastics, to manage the club and organise
fund raising events. The majority of the club’s income arose
from fund raising and The Club needed to raise over £3,000
every year to repay the loans and keep the building in order.
Once it became clear that the Club could buy the
premises the committee began to worry about the financial commitments.
Fortunately, in the spring of 1982 contact was again made with Mike
Euridge. On leaving the services, Mike became a professional gymnastics
coach at the Hawkes club (then in Seaton), also helping to manage
the sports centre there. Mike’s ambition to run his own club
coincided with the need to ensure a more secure future for the club
and the committee started exploring methods of combining the club’s
premises and equipment with Mikes nationally recognised skills and
Preserve us from Solicitors
Again the expertise of Laurence Smith and his legal
knowledge were invaluable to the Club. Things are never so simple
as they seem. As a voluntary club, the premises and equipment had
been purchased by the efforts of a large number of people and the
committee have a responsibility to make sure that they are used
for the purposes intended. Similarly, Mike was giving up a secure
and lucrative job to run the club
and, as any parent, needed the security that could not be provided
if a committee that changed every year employed him. The terms of
the grants and loans prevented us from selling the premises to Mike
so the Club had to look for a way of operating in partnership.
Enter the solicitors! To cut a long story short,
the Club finally agreed to the following arrangements (and if they
appear complicated - blame the legal profession):
Exeter Gymnastics Club remains a voluntary organisation
and has appointed four Trustees to own the property on behalf
of its members. The terms of the trust are quite definite about
what can and can’t be done with the property. The Trustees
have leased the premises to Mike on a restrictive lease that insists
that the buildings can only be used for gymnastics or related
activities. Mike uses the premises to run his own club called
Exeter Olympic Gymnastics Club and all the children are members
of that club. Hang on! That leaves the voluntary club without
any members! Well, when a child joins Exeter Olympic gymnastics
Club his or her parents automatically become members of Exeter
Gymnastics Club, who elect the committee who appoint the Trustees
who lease the premises that Jack built. Get it?
Financially, the rental received from Mike enables
the club to repay the loans and mortgages and the term fees provide
Mike with an income. Mike is responsible for maintaining the building
but the club through fund raising finances major improvements as
well as items of equipment.
A Brighter Future
In 1984 the Club was in a much more stable situation
- the building was ours and the membership had risen to 350 gymnasts.
The question was raised as to how to improve the training facilities
for the gymnasts. A 40ft floor square still a dream to come true.
However, walls could be knocked down, chimney breasts removed, and
were, to improve the vault run up etc. One new facility, which it
was decided the Club could afford, providing lots of voluntary parental
help was forthcoming, was “A Pit”. And so in the summer
of 1984 the two-week break was set aside to do just this.
A Dream Come True
At the beginning of 1986, the Club was granted
Charitable Status, which was a very important milestone in the Club’s
history. 1986 also brought with it definite plans from the dreams
of the past few years. Detailed plans were drawn up for the building,
which was to go up in the back playground and which would house
a 40ft floor square. Is it really possible? Plans have been passed
but £83,000 is a lot of money!!! By October finances were
in place and on the 3rd November 1986 Duncan Andrews Construction
Ltd moved on to the site and started to demolish everything in sight!!
April 1987 saw the completion and official opening
of the new gym. This had involved a lot of hard work, both physically
to keep the cost down and raising the funds needed for the project.