The Chairman’s Leadership
image: Lord Birkett, a fair, eloquent and fearless advocate, he became a judge, was knighted in 1941 and was appointed British Alternate Judge at the Nuremberg War Criminal Trials.
When war broke out the Board met six days later under the powerful chairmanship of Norman Birkett. The gravity of the situation from the Club’s point of view is clearly demonstrated by the following minute from the meeting:
“The directors considered the situation created by the Declaration of War. After considerable discussion the following points emerged as being matters that governed the policy to be pursued, and recorded here for future guidance:
- that it was impossible to predict with any certainty the course of events; but the continuance of the Club seemed certain to result in increasing financial loss.
- the fact that the club already had an overdraft at Lloyds Bank made it imperative that in any arrangements for continuing the Club steps should be taken to safeguard the position and prevent any increase in the overdraft situation if at all possible.
- that if the Club was to be continued a scheme should be worked out for limited period based on: a drastic reduction of expenses in every direction including the indoors and outdoor staff, that an estimate should be made of the probable financial loss in this period, that an attempt should be made to raise a Fund from the members of the club to meet this probable loss that the directors should meet within a week to decide the policy for the immediate future
- that if it were possible to make arrangements for the Club to continue temporarily it would give the opportunity to see whether members continued to use the Club, whether any revenue from green fees was to be expected, whether any revenue was to be obtained from letting the club premises, from grazing sheep on the links, from any possible use of the land by the County Agricultural Committee, or kindred things”.
By the time of this meeting the Secretary, Commander Stanistreet and his assistant, his niece Miss Powell, had already left for military service. Two members, Mr White and Dr Henderson agreed to act as Joint Secretaries for the time being.
image: Norman Birkett, who died in 1962, met his Swedish wife, Ruth Nilsson, at the start of his career in Birmingham, when acting as Private Secretary to George Cadbury of the chocolate family
The Chairman was empowered to reduce the indoor and outdoor staff at the earliest moment and Mr Le Neve Foster undertook to get in touch with the Office of Works or any other suitable body with a view to letting the premises if possible.
At the Board meeting held 11 days later, the Chairman reported that only six members of staff had been retained – three ground staff (J Spong, F Rance and A Chilton) and three indoor staff including the steward and catering manageress, Mrs Salmond. The professional, J D Burns, had been given one month’s notice in accordance with his contract.
A General Meeting was called on October 1st with some sixty members in attendance at which Norman Birkett eloquently expressed the gravity of the situation. Unanimous approval was recorded of the actions and efforts of the Board, coupled with generous offers of financial support including the payment of next year’s fees in advance. At that meeting it was agreed that entrance fees be waived until further notice. The Secretary’s bungalow was perceived as a source of income and was let out to a Mr Worrall at 3 guineas per week.