The latest Chairman’s newsletter
An incredibly busy summer for the Trust seems to be disappearing all too quickly now. Preparations for the new Visitor Centre have taken most of our time, with the completion of the tendering process, sub-contractor selection and final negotiations running in parallel with a review of different funding options. I’m happy to report that the scheme was formally agreed at a special EGM of the Trust in early August. Building work is therefore expected to start in late September and by next summer, the Trust will be operating from a brand-new, purpose built facility. We are of course conscious that the construction process will cause some disruption in the local area, but we have tried to anticipate potential problems and have worked with the builder to mitigate them as best we can. We will also be contacting the residents and businesses likely to be most affected and will make them aware of the situation and to ensure that the communication channels are as robust as we can make them. The builder is a local firm and has family on Puddingstone Drive, so knows the area already.
Our plans have clearly caused some interest, which is pleasing to note. Most comments support our view that West Lodge really isn’t the best of buildings for the Trust to operate from. Most people just think that it’s a conventional house and therefore never venture inside and engage with us in a way that we would want. The new building will transform this. We want it to be the welcoming new face of the Trust and hope that all residents and park users feel that they can drop-in to talk about the work of the Trust and the park more generally. It is only a modest building, but it will enable the Trust to provide so much more community benefit than is possible from West Lodge. We want to be able to explain about the many diverse areas within the park, its flora and fauna, its history, things to do, clubs to join and events to participate in. Exciting times ahead!
We’ve also been busy pursuing two major grant opportunities. The first is funding to support the tireless research that the History Working Group have been acquiring over many years. The intention is to professionally categorise and index this material in order that it may be shared with others. The second is to improve the surface area of the basketball court on the Village Green. Both applications are now well advanced and will be submitted in the coming weeks. Thanks here also to Dreda Gordon and the Parish Council for smaller grants for specific projects in the park.
Another working group is looking at updating the Trust’s website and has set some high expectations. We intend to totally change our offering, to make it a repository of useful and engaging information, including regular updates on what we’re doing in the park, a professional box office for our events and a bespoke section on the history of the area. The last section dovetails with the work of the history group and the funding opportunity already described.
We also hope you’ve enjoyed the variety of events we’ve again hosted this year. Luna Cinema and the Town and County Festival were excellent as ever. We’re now planning for Bat Night (Educational – 15th Sept), Apple Day (Fun – 8th Oct), Bug Hunt (Fun- 25th Oct) and the History Talk (Educational – 3rd Nov). Educational events will be ticketed.
I concluded the last newsletter by introducing Graham Monger, the new YMCA Centre Manager and have asked him to contribute to this newsletter. His thoughts can be found below.
Chair of Trustees, August 2017
As the summer holidays are coming to the end along with the good weather, I hope everyone has had a wonderful time with friends and family over the last couple of months!
So, a quick introduction on where I have come from and what I do for the One YMCA.
I started working for One YMCA at the start of June this year and so far, it’s going well and we are heading in the right direction. I have been in the health and fitness industry for around 13 years, mainly working as a personal trainer and as a strength coach in Hertfordshire and London. In 2011, I set up my own corporate healthcare business that took me in and out of companies throughout London and Sweden where I lived for two years. Before heading to One YMCA I was a Group Manager in Slough where I achieved the best financial accounts two years in a row, even when faced with challenging times.
Since joining One YMCA we have focused on developing the foundations of what we offer, customer service and creating awareness of One YMCA St Albans in and around the local community. To my delight, along with the rest of the team, our efforts are paying off and we are seeing more people coming through our doors and taking out memberships than ever before.
We have also stepped up our efforts in helping and supporting our members through the means of positive interactions, meal plans and small group training. The aim here is not only to provide support, but to make health and fitness fun!
Our future looks bright and positive! We have several plans in place to not only increase engagement within our local community, but to see an increase in regular sport and fitness participation within families and youth in St Albans.
Another aim of mine is to build mutual partnerships with local businesses, schools and other services around St Albans, and three months into One YMCA we are off to a great start. Any of you reading this and think there is something we could build upon, please drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
What our membership includes
We offer a monthly membership at £23.99 per month which includes: – Access to all three sites St Albans, Abbots and Watford One YMCA’s – 3 fully equipped gyms – 70 weekly fitness classes – Help and support from our fitness team
Look forward to seeing you soon,
One YMCA Centre Manager, St. Albans.