Background to our appeal
Our clubhouse is the hub of a lot of activities at the club, and in desperate need of improvements; it has no heating, the terrace wooden windows/doors are falling apart and there is poor access to the clubhouse for wheelchair users.
The club has always put the tennis courts as it’s priority to attract and keep members. However, in prioritising the courts and outside areas, combined with lack of access to the clubhouse due to Covid-19 requirements, the maintenance and improvement programme for the clubhouse has fallen behind and always comes last from a budget perspective.
It has reached a stage where the clubhouse improvement programme requires an injection of funds, and the club is looking to crowdfunding to kick-start work on the most pressing renovations which will make the clubhouse a weatherproof, warm and welcoming all year-round facility.
The renovations will focus on the terrace front and inside of the club: opening up the doorways with new wider doorway access, installing new windows and much needed heating and if funds allow repairs to the flooring.
This crowdfunding will also establish the foundation for future clubhouse improvements.
The target for the crowdfunding campaign is £12,000, this is two-part - crowdfunding by the members and wider community and match funding from Sport England for £3,600 (30% of our fundraising target) provided the overall target is met.
Who are we and what do we do
St John's Lawn Tennis Club is a community amateur sports club, a not-for-profit tennis club based in the centre of Tunbridge Wells. The club was founded in 1922 and will proudly celebrate its centenary next year.
The club is run by its members who are all volunteers. We have 4 floodlit all weather courts, 2 grass courts and a practise wall. We have a clubhouse which houses a bar, kitchen, changing facilities and a social area.
In January of this year, we were honoured with a LTA Club of the Year 2021 Award in the category 1-4 courts. Our Chairman, Laura Collins, received the award on behalf of the whole membership in a virtual ceremony. The criteria for Club of the Year awards this year focussed on how clubs responded to the Covid-19 pandemic and rewarded those that reacted proactively, demonstrated support, not only to their membership but also to their local community and, when permitted, provided a safe environment to play in accordance with LTA guidelines.
Our current membership stands at 227 adults and 208 juniors. We have been fortunate enough to grow our membership by 64 new adult members and 93 juniors since the end of March 2020 as more people have more leisure time and recognise the benefits of participating in an outdoor sport and the social interaction that tennis offers. To this end we run regular mixin sessions where new members are actively encouraged to join in the fun and enjoy a drink afterwards. Our bar is run by volunteers and is a great focal point for our social activity.
The club offers a well-developed programme of coaching and cardio tennis for adults and juniors headed up by Steve Jarrett and Rosemary Snook. We are affiliated to the Jarrett Tennis School (JTS) which gives us access to Six LTA qualified coaches. JTS has Club Mark Accreditation and is recognised by the LTA as a provider of elite training for 5–14 year-olds, providing national and international players.
We are an enthusiastic participant in the Kent and Maidstone leagues, entering teams in all categories and are a regular host of league matches and club tournaments.
In the last year we have developed a relationship with a local charity, Mental Health Resource, which is based in Tunbridge Wells. The charity supports over 1000 adults with their mental wellbeing in West Kent. It’s clients often have complex, enduring mental health conditions, many struggle with low self-esteem and lack skills to manage stressful life events. The club is keen to offer tennis coaching on a regular basis to those clients of the charity that might benefit from the focus and physical participation that tennis offers. We ran a pilot scheme earlier this year and learned some valuable lessons which we will put to good use as we develop our programme. The LTA recognised the value of what we are looking to achieve and helped with some funding for the pilot.
Where will the money be spent
There are a wide range of projects in the clubhouse that the money could be spent on however if we are successful in reaching our target, these improvements will be prioritised:
- Install heating in the clubhouse to ensure it can be used for multiple purposes throughout the year.
- Improve access to the clubhouse from the courts by replacing existing dilapidated windows with wide, fully folding doors. This will include disabled access improvements as well as allowing better ventilation and easier indoor/outdoor flow when the weather permits.
- Replace worn flooring in the clubhouse.
We are keen to upgrade the access to the clubhouse and provide all year-round usability so that it will be an inviting venue, not only for the club members but also for other community clubs and groups that will use it in the future. Pre Covid-19, the clubhouse was used for a variety of activities and private events, and we are keen to ensure it is upgraded sufficiently to encourage greater community usage.
If funds allow, we would like to build upon the pilot scheme run with Mental Health Resource earlier this year., and to be able to offer regular coaching to those of its clients that wish to participate.
In conclusion, our longer-term objective is to continue to be a strong, diverse and inclusive club that is an asset to our members and local community.
The Club clearly recognises that there are many competing and well deserving requests for funding, both locally within our community, nationally and globally but we very much hope you are able to support this exciting initiative.