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A message from the chairman – Clubhouse Renovations & Volunteer Opportunities

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We are now into our second month of the new season and it is has been wonderful to see our
existing members and old friends return to the club for another fantastic rugby season. I would also
like to extend a warm welcome to new members who are joining us for the first time; we are
delighted to have you as part of our community club and we hope you have a fantastic season with
us.

As part of its ongoing reflective practice, the URFC Board of Directors has met regularly to consider
the needs of our rugby community and how this has changed over the years. We have seen lots of
positive change and action throughout the club, however some difficulties we now face present
fresh challenges for the board. We have seen a decline in player, spectator and volunteer numbers
and the board agrees that decisions are required to reflect the needs of all those involved in the club
to ensure we continue to provide an efficient, effective and enjoyable community club.

As a board, we truly believe that URFC is a great place to be a member. The club has been a pioneer
of rugby in Sussex in many ways over the years: we were the first club to build its club house
alongside the pitch; the first with a balcony on the halfway line and the first club to introduce shirts
and ties for its junior members after matches. Following URFC’s creative thinking, other clubs have
since followed suit and now all new club houses are pitch-side, have a balcony and almost all junior
sides wear ties after matches. More recently our Ladies rugby teams have been going from strength
to strength. Numbers are increasing and the teams have had a very strong start to the season.

In order to keep the club at the forefront of rugby in Sussex, we believe that our offering must be
the best. We want our members to realise this is a community club where you come, join in, help
and participate. We don’t want this to be a place where parents drop and go on Sunday morning, we
want them to be as much of the fabric of the club as their children. In order to achieve this, our
facilities need to be warm, inviting and designed to endure the test of time. Whilst our friendly
clubhouse serves a purpose and is enjoyed by many of our guests, its size and orientation restricts us
from doing many of the things we would like. Many events, meetings and social occasions are often
held off-site and we are regularly told it is not an inviting space for young families who want a
spacious, comfortable area when attending the club.

Clubhouse Renovation
To improve this and to take those steps towards a clubhouse fit for the future, it was agreed by the
board that extending the clubhouse was the way forward. These improvements will see the club
extend from 2 to 4 RFU-approved changing rooms, additional facilities for referees and a physio
space/first aid room. The new building will also host a larger kitchen, bar, function and meeting
rooms. This is clearly a significant undertaking and will need to be a phased development over
several years. The first phase, beginning in Autumn 2023 and due to complete in Summer 2024, will
see the removal of the internal stairwell and the creation of a new external one providing full DDA-
compliant accessibility and toilets for all on both floors. A storage facility outside will also create the
space we crave, and an extended car park will provide adequate space for our visitors and
neighbours.

Here is a concept drawing but if you click on the link below you will be able to access a 3D version
which provides a more detailed vision for the proposed development.

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Click here for the URFC Design Proposal for Extended Club House

As you can image, these things don’t come cheap! The full cost of phase one is around £235,000.
Thanks to the hard work of the board, we have successfully secured a number of grants and loans
towards this and are in discussion with other providers to gather further support. Whilst these
funding streams go a long way to supporting our project, we are still left with a significant amount of
money to be raised.

Whilst this is a mountain of a task, we know this club has risen to all challenges presented to it in the
past and we know it will do so again. Our Phase One development team will be sharing fundraising
ideas and plans soon – the fundraising thermometer target is set at £125,000 and we will be calling
on the URFC community, including building professionals and tradesman to please help in any way
you can.

Volunteer opportunities
To ensure both the club and the project are managed efficiently and effectively, a few changes are
being made to the structure of the club management, and we are looking for some enthusiastic
people to join the team.

Jon Fordham has stepped into the newly designed role of Vice-Chairman of URFC. His role will focus
on the day-to-day running of the club, and he will chair the management committee with a focus on
growing the membership.

As part of the organisational restructure, we have developed the management of the minis and
juniors’ (MJ) section in an effort to ensure this vital part of our club is effectively managed. We now
aim to ensure the division is managed by a 6-strong team of volunteers – a chair and vice-chair (with
one being based in the minis and one in the juniors’ section) along with 4 additional roles within the
committee. The chair and vice chair have been appointed by the Chairman with Robin Timson and
Simon Lewis taking on these roles. We are looking for volunteers to take up the important roles on
the committee so please get in touch with Robin if you would like to be part of the team.

Our club
Uckfield Rugby Football Club is an incredibly special and unique organisation striving to give back to
the community our members come from. Now is the time for this club to shine like no other and
hold the community events we excel at – our annual fireworks night, Davina’s Big Ride, Proms on the
Pitch, ScrumFest, Christmas lunches and Residents Association days, among others – all within a new
clubhouse, and utilising our fantastic volunteer force.

With all this in place we will be the location, venue, and rugby club of choice for many years to
come.

We can only achieve our aims if more people step forward. So, if you can help with the organisation
and management of the club, fundraising our help out at our events please get in touch, we’d love to
hear from you!

Gordon Buckland, Chairman, gbucklandgtb@gmail.com

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