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Dear SECC Members,

With the emergence from the restrictions this pandemic has placed on everyone’s lives, we wanted to keep you informed on what’s happening in our corner of the world.

As you’re aware, Fenton’s rink has remained closed since November 2020.  We have been working with Ernest over the past few weeks to determine how we can reintroduce curling in the winter of 2021.

After careful consideration, Ernest has decided that he no longer wishes to host corporate/private bookings at the rink.  This means that the rink will not be open to the general public this forthcoming season.

We would like to place on record our thanks for the many years of investment and dedication Ernest and his team have put into making Fenton’s the breeding ground for curling talent in England over the past 15 years.  We have had many junior, men’s, women’s and senior teams that started their adventure here qualify for many of the European and World championships over the years.  This would not have been possible without the dedicated facility that Fenton’s provides.  We are all truly grateful.  Many new and enduring friendships have been formed by all of our regular curlers, and I think we all have our own fond memories of our time at Fenton’s.

As we look to the future, we intend to raise the appropriate funds to build a new dedicated facility in the nearby area so that we can continue to develop the talent in England, and open this to the wider community allowing corporate and private bookings to return as we grow the sport in our region.

Naturally this will take time and commitment from many individuals and sports organising bodies to raise the appropriate funds so that we can take on the build/lease of an appropriate building and configure this for curling as its primary use and employ the appropriate staff.

Whilst we work through this fundraising, for the 2021/2022 season, Ernest has kindly given us the option to lease and run Fentons for a period of 10 weeks in late January and throughout February and March 2022.  The SECC has sole ownership of the bookings and can structure these as they see fit.

We will be able to run a variety of sessions that include club leagues and friendly matches, coaching of novice members, running school and junior curling sessions, bonspiels and come and try events.

Naturally our club runs with minimal income and reserves, as we have traditionally run this club solely for our members.  For us to take over the lease of Fenton’s for this 10 week period, we need to pay the fees for the whole season up front.   These fees will be non-refundable in the event that we face another wave of the pandemic or other similar issue.

So at this point, we would like to gauge our members’ intentions to curl in a compressed season.  Once we know how our membership feels we can determine if this is viable and can go back to Ernest with a confirmation of whether we wish to take up this offer.

Our considerations are as follows:

Leagues 

We intend to run several leagues throughout the 10 weeks.  These will run on different days, so that individuals can decide how many days per week/fortnight they would like to curl.

Initial proposals are as follows:

Green League  – social individual entry – runs alternate Mondays from 7:30pm – 9:30pm

Yellow League  – open team entry – runs alternate Mondays from 7:30pm – 9:30pm

Red League – competitive team entry – runs every Tuesday from 7:30pm – 9:30pm

Blue League – competitive team entry – runs every Friday from 7:30pm – 9:30pm

Pink League – mixed doubles – runs alternate Wednesdays from 7:30pm – 9:30pm

Purple League – mixed doubles – runs alternate Wednesdays from 7:30pm – 9:30pm

Please note that the competitive leagues will not run on the week of the ECA Men’s and Women’s championships that will be held in Dumfries (dates to be determined)

Coaching

Junior coaching – open to all juniors – runs every Monday from 5:00pm – 7:00 pm.  Mix of coaching and games with a bell at 6:45pm for the start of the last end.

Four week learn to curl sessions  – consecutive Thursday evenings.  One set starting in February, the second starting in March – 7:30pm – 9:30pm to coincide with the olympics.

Come and Try curling – running on several weekends – Saturday and Sunday.

Bonspiels

We will run the Kent and Sussex bonspiel the first weekend that we open, with a maximum of 16 teams.  Sessions will be 6 end games with appropriate breaks in between.

NEW – Competitive Bonspiel – to be run the weekend before the ECA Men’s and Women’s championships, to act as a warm up/tuning event for the competitive teams to play against each other.

NEW – Adult Mixed Doubles spiel

NEW – Junior Mixed Doubles spell

These two events will run the same weekend, alternating between adults and juniors on the ice.   A perfect opportunity for families to compete together.

Inter Club Cup

To be held in the middle of March – a minimum of one team from each England curling club can be entered.

Alexander Fleming Trophy

To run one weekend in late February.  Open entry to all.  Mixed teams will be preferred.

Schools Playdown Championship

To run on a Tuesday towards the end of the season, from 10am onwards (dependent on entries)

Beacon Academy

Beacon will looking to resume their successful curling programme during the 2021-2022 season.  Precise details will follow at a later date.

If other schools would like to regularly train at the rink, please let us know.

Other rink use

There are a couple of regular curling groups that use the rink during the day that will be incorporated into the schedule – they will join the SECC to use the facilities.

ECA Competitions – Mixed

We are delighted to be able to host the Mixed Championships.   This will run in mid-March.

We will also be hosting the Junior Playdowns which will run the last weekend of the season.

Finals Weekend

The last weekend of the season will be a farewell event.  Interspersed with the Junior Playdowns, we hope to see as many people as possible at the rink during the weekend.

We will be holding the league finals during this weekend, as well as a number of fundraising activities as we look to branch out on our own at a new facility. 

Intentions and Volunteering

So as you can see we are looking to make full use of the rink if we decide to take on the commitment.

To determine if this is going to be viable, we would ask you to complete the form at the following link to express your interest.  The form has an indicative price for the leagues and sessions noted above.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfmWolkpjrawavcyuHr0yVrurlhPDtCe69ONQaYwLjvs1k_pQ/viewform

We won’t be able to afford to pay a salaried member of staff to act as the duty manager at the rink, so this will be run on a voluntary basis by members of the SECC Committee and other nominated members.

If you are able to volunteer any time during late January and through February and March to help with the staffing at the rink, please let us know on the form.  All assistance is appreciated, especially if you are available during the week.

In addition we hope to be able to run the bar as a club bar by obtaining the appropriate license.  We would only be able to serve members of the club.  

If you are prepared to volunteer to work the bar during the season, please let us know on the form as well.

Future Seasons

We hope to use this season as a way of raising some funds towards the costs of moving to a new facility in the future.  We would welcome any assistance that our members can offer with their skill sets or time.

We would be particularly interested if anyone has experience in the following disciplines:

  • Commercial property leasing/purchase.
  • Forming of incorporated companies to run the new facility
  • Accountancy experience to help put together the appropriate proposals for funding requests to governing bodies.
  • Private equity funding
  • Individuals who are interested in investing in the new facility.

We intend to start looking at our options for a new facility well in advance of the start of the current season, providing we receive enough expressions of interest in the upcoming season, so if you can offer any of your time with the planning for this, you would be very welcome to join the working group.

Final Note

If you’ve read this far – thank you.  I hope you are interested in seeing curling continue in the region.  We see this compressed season as a positive.  Without this we may well lose the momentum to keep curling viable in the area.  We hope that you’re passion for the sport matches that of the SECC Committee and you would like to continue your journey in curling with us.

Having our own dedicated facility within easy reach of public transport will be pivotal in developing the sport, and we are excited for the future.

Kind regards

Steve Lea

Secretary – SECC

Sent on behalf of the whole committee.