News Letter September 2019

Chairman’s Letter – September 2019

Here we are folks approaching the end of another diving season and for sure the time has flown, probably because there has been so much going on down the club.  It would be remiss not to mention the recent highly successful Scout ‘Jamboree’ Try Dive session, which has received nothing but plaudits and certainly helped to raise the profile of the club.  Thanks to everybody who participated in the event, in particular John Rice, Chris Woods and Geoff Oldfield stand out for orchestrating and making the whole thing work.

Morrison’s -The next event on the calendar is Geoff Oldfield’s RNLI fund raising event at Morrison’s, New Brighton over the weekend of the 12/13th October 2019.  The tides are bad that weekend so I know you will all chip in and support Geoff for this is a vital maritime rescue service upon which we all rely.  Moreover, the spinoff is that we normally generate quite a few punters for Try Dives some of whom go on to form the next generation of the club.

Dinner Dance – The65th. Club’s Annual Dinner Dance is fast approaching and will take place on Saturday, 26th. October 2019 at Birkenhead Park Rugby Club, Park Road North, Birkenhead.  Tickets are priced at £40 per head and will take a similar format as the last two years, albeit we always are looking for a fresh twist.  As with last year, the ‘Forty Thieves’ will be making a return visit by popular demand to provide the entertainment.  Also the brand new Steve Palmer Diver of the Year Memorial Trophy will be presented for the first time.  Tickets are available from Dave and Robbie Edwards and I can tell you that they are flying out of the door.  

AGM – The Club’s Annual General Meeting will take place at the Club House at 9.0pm prompt on Thursday 14th November 2019.  Amongst the positions up for grabs this year are Honorary Treasurer, Equipment Officer and Welfare Officer, but remember no committee post is for life and everybody is encouraged to put themselves forward for any post.  One thing that you should be aware of is that the club Diving Officer, Tony Fitzpatrick has completed his three year term of office, however, a motion will be put forward at the AGM to extend Article 3 (b) of the Club Constitution from three to four years for the officers of the club (Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary and Diving Officer).  The other committee posts are not affected by this rule.  In the event of the extension of tenure not being approved by the AGM the role of Diving Officer will be taken over by the Assistant Diving Officer, Robbie Edwards, who will appoint an ‘Acting’ assistant at his discretion.

Refurbishment of the Club – I know what you are going to say as this is starting to feel like ‘watching paint dry’, however, I can now tell you that we, the club, have now provided everything that Wirral Council have asked for and are now eagerly awaiting their response.  Now it may well be that Nigel and I will have to make a guest appearance at a Council meeting to present our case for obtaining a rent free period from them.  After that it will be ‘full ahead’ to make a modern open space club house to replace the rather cramped slightly jaded facilities that we have at present.

Training – I am aware that a fair few members are currently waiting for Rescue Management Training to complete their Advanced Diver tickets. It is hoped that we can sort something out during October, which should mean that you will receive your certificate at the Dinner Dance.  In addition, it is hoped that there will be several catch up sessions for those who missed the practical part of recent Skill Development Courses (Accelerated Decompression and Navigation), after which we can start looking forward to planning further SDC’s for next year.

Scapa Flow 2020 – Events for next year are rapidly coming into focus and, of course, we have the long standing Scapa Flow trip to look forward to in Septembers 2020.  You will recall that the uptake was such that we have hired the charter boat for the first two weeks in September.  Who goes on which week has yet to be sorted out, however, I do now need the second part of your deposit which is £80 per person and will be collected during October.

That’s it folks…….safe diving and I look forward to seeing you all at the Dinner Dance.

Alan Jones
Chairman  

News Letter July 2019

Chairman’s Letter

Hello Again Folks……….News just off the press is that the Club Annual Dinner will be on Saturday, 26th. October 2019 at Birkenhead Park Rugby Club.  Now this is a fortnight earlier than usual, but it was the nearest date on offer from the rugby club and a change of venue at this late stage would have caused problems in terms of catering etc.  Also I am very pleased to announce that our friends Alan and Vivienne from Divewise on Malta will be attending as guests of the club. I am not sure what the cost of tickets will be, but I suspect they won’t be less that £38 a pop.  The summer bash at the beginning of June apparently was a resounding success and managed to raise about £500 for the club’s coffers.  Thanks go out to Dave Edwards and his band of helpers for making it a great night out.

Enlargement/Refurbishment of the Club House – Last Thursday, 4th. July 2019 Nigel Thomas and I had a meeting with council officials in relation to this project and I am happy to say that while progress may be slow, the council certainly appear to be warming to the idea.  Essentially, we now have to submit a report not only outlining the work, but specifically highlighting the benefits to the club, the community and the council itself.  It is hoped that a rent free period of years can be negotiated that will go a considerable way towards meeting the overall cost. I think approval is unlikely before the autumn, however, in the mean time your views and concerns would be much appreciated.

The Major’s Late, Late Diving Bash – Robbie Edwards and I are going out to Malta on Thursday, 3rd. October and returning to Manchester on the following Monday, 7th. October to do some technical diving (with Divewise/Techwise) and we thought it might be a neat idea to invite the club to join us.  This venue caters for all diving grades hence there is no bar as to who can attend.  Moreover, I have just done a quick check and flights at that time of year are as little as £68 return; okay, I know, you will need to pay for diving equipment which is normally about £40 return for standard kit.  Accommodation on Malta can be as cheap or expensive as you like, certainly Robbie and I paid £124 for an entire week including breakfast earlier in the year.  So if you are interested in a cheeky long weekend’s diving in warm blue water just get in touch with me.   

The use of Facebook – I am sure many of you will be aware that the Club’s Facebook page has recently been used as a platform to air minor grievances over damage to club equipment.  In my view there is a real danger that members become ‘keyboard warriors’ and end up criticising or sniping at individuals in a more forthright manner than they would ever do in a face to face situation.  At a time when so much good work is being achieved by the club this can be very corrosive and counterproductive, hence I will be asking the Facebook administrators to be more robust in removing anything potentially hurtful.  Speaking of club equipment, the committee accept that accidents do occur, so please do let us know in a timely manner if anything gets bashed and we will endeavor to put it right.

Outstanding SDC’s – I am aware that not everybody completed the recent practical sessions for both the Accelerated Decompression and Chartwork SDC’s.  If you let me know (or put it on the Notice board) I will sort out the necessary sessions, albeit they are likely to be in the autumn.

Best regards and safe diving……………Alan Jones, Chairman

News Letter May 2019

Chairman’s Letter

Hello Again Folks…..Let me move straight on with further ado to the most pressing matter that is Dave Edward’s ‘Summer Bash’at Birkenhead Park Rugby Club, on Saturday, 8th.  June 2019.  Whilst the price of £38 per head may seem steep the doors open 3pm and children are welcome for a mere £7 per person, albeit that they should be off the premises by 9pm.  There are various entertainments all afternoon including a bouncy castle for the kids.  The evening ‘scoff’ is a full self service buffet, the theme being food from places around the world the club has dived.  We are assured this is a real banquet and should not be missed.  In addition, Dave has obtained the services of a singer for your entertainment.  Now the point is while many members have put their name down for the event you have also been painfully slow in ‘coughing up’ the cash.  So please do pay Dave in the next week or so.  Moreover, numbers have to be finalised by week commencing the 2nd. June, therefore you need to act now to avoid the disappointment of missing a great night.

Speaking of things coming up at short order, it is the Festival of the River on Sunday, 2nd. June 2019 and we should have another tug-of-war contest at New Brighton.  My understanding is that the event is likely to take place about 2.30pm. Two boats are going to promote the Club and Try Dives and collect for the RNLI so we would like volunteers to help from about 11.30am. We will put one boat at the entrance to the car park near the Fort and launch the other into the marine lake.  The tides are bad that weekend so why not lend your support to our team and raise a ‘few bob’ for the RNLI at the same time.  Also, while not certain, I am fairly sure there is a food and drink fair at the back of Morrison’s that same weekend.

Another thing on the horizon which I meant to mention last night is the prospect of Thursday evening diving, such as this coming week.  The tides really are excellent for an afternoon dip if you can free yourself from work or retired like me.  So for example, on Thursday next the meeting time would be 1.0pm on the beach, diving about 4.0pm and back to the club for 7pm.

Looking at the club in general, I am very pleased to tell you that the membership of the club (currently 120+) continues to grow slowly thanks to the efforts of the training team and our Communications Officer, John Rice, who certainly know how to pack them in, particularly amongst those who either fell out of diving or belong to other agencies. When you think that it was only a few years ago that the membership fell to around the 70 mark, so this really is a real achievement, well done.

Finally, turning to the Refurbishment/enlargement of the interior club space there is no real progress to report, in that we have done everything asked of us by the council with regards to plans and calculations, but it seems that we might be at the very bottom of their undoubted busy agenda.  At the recent committee meeting it was agreed that we should review our position at the July committee meeting.

Finally, with the diving season now upon us make sure have a great year and don’t forget to complete the Nitrox log in the boat shed when you are filling your bottles.  Safe diving!  

Best regards
Alan Jones
Chairman

Newsletter January 2019

Chairman’s Letter

Happy New Year everybody and welcome to the start of yet another year of diving with Branch 5; could be as rasper!  We are barely two weeks into the New Year, but already the pace is picking up with the Annual Tug-o-War against the Lifeboat crew on New Year’s Day.  This led to our inevitable defeat though managed to raise something just short of £500 (for the RNLI) and certainly served to raise the profile of the club.  Since then there have been a welter of quarry dives as members train and prepare themselves for the sea.  Obviously, the Dive Calendar is not yet complete but the following provide a snapshot of what will be on offer and is by no means complete, here goes:

  • 19/20th. January 2019 – Stoney Cove, Sports Diver transition dives to 35 meters
  • 10/17th. May 2019 – Malta with Divewise/Techwise
  • 8/9th. June 2019 – Liverpool Bay
  • 14/17th.Jube 2019 – Pembroke with Archaeological Nautical Society diving the Abbercastle
  • 29th. June – 6th. July 2019 – Rosas, Spain with Fleet Divers.
  • 12/14th. July 2019 – Farnes
  • 26/27th. July 2019 – Anglesey (diving SS Durbant)
  • 24/31st. August 2019 – Red Sea
  • 20/22nd. September 2019 – Oban

And just too wet you appetite even further, I am looking to run a full trip to Scapa Flow in  2020 and for those with deep pockets Truk Lagoon in 2021….watch this space.

Turning to equipment, the club has just purchased three Apex training DV’s complete with ‘octo’ regulators.  Towards the back end of last year we also bought a new Lawrence Chart Plotter/Sonar combo to replace the one on the Viking which was found to be full of water.  As a matter of some urgency both boats and the club compressor will be serviced in readiness for the new season.

Training needs continue, specifically Skill Development Courses (Accelerated Decompression Procedure, Chart work) have featured quite heavily in the last three months and will be followed by Compressor Operations, Mixed Gas Blending, Boat Handling and Rescue Management during the coming months.

On the social front I am looking to arrange ‘The Major’s Late, Late Easter Bash’ on Saturday,27th. April 2019.  At the moment I have neither decided on a venue or whether to run it in combination with something else, such as a clay pigeon shoot, go-karting or ‘Ghetto’ Golf at the old Cain’s Brewery in Liverpool.  In addition, I can tell you that Dave and Robbie Edwards are hoping to run a full blown BBQ at Birkenhead Park Rugby Club during the summer and are presently liaising with the caterers.  Also by popular demand this year’s annual dinner will be a similar format at the same venue as last year.  Again we are negotiating over the date, although it is bound to be sometime around mid-November. Just to let you know the annual dinner raised £900 and the Late, Later Xmas Bash £260 for the club, thanks for your support.

One of the things to come out of the club’s AGM in November was an agreement between you the committee that we would put forward a submission for the Heinke Trophy (BSAC’s prestigious award for the most outstanding Branch).  Now the application is retrospective, in other words for the current year, so it is important that we all work towards this goal, which means collecting photographs and short reports and forwarding them to our co-ordinator John Rice.  He has recently taken on the mantle of Communications Officer and is very aware of the need to raise our profile, particularly through community engagement.  One of the things he has organised through Facebook is a ‘Try Dive Bang’ which will be ‘splashed’ across the ether and entice punters to a Try Dive event at Guinea Gap on the 31st. January 2019.  I am sure you will appreciate that this may well attract a bevy of new members and also, most importantly, some great publicity. This could then be extremely helpful and used to support any future application for Sports Council money etc.

As you are probably aware the ‘bold’ Chris Mills has taken over the responsibilities for developing our website and he now sends you the following missive:

          ‘Over the last couple of months, I’ve been trying to tidy up the existing website, updating out of date details as well as trying to get details of recent events published. Mainly to show visitors that the club is active as well as to pass on details to club members who may have missed them.

 I have now installed an events calendar on the site with links to most of the up and coming events I can find details for. I really need help with this going forward if it’s going to be useful. If anyone plans an event; diving, training, social or anything else could they please send me some details. Ideally a few words on the event, dates, organiser details and if possible, a photo or two relating to the event. (Basically, the details that would normally go on the sheets that are put on the notice boards) I will add this to the events list and calendar on the site. If this could be followed up with a very short report following the event, again with a photo or two this would also be appreciated.

I’m more than happy to take any updates for the site in any format; paper, disk, memory stick etc but have also set up an email address for anyone who wishes to send them electronically. The address is content@merseydivers.com

Going forward I’m looking at updating the look and feel of the site. This is a spare time project so is likely to take a few weeks to complete. During this time there is likely to periods, hopefully short ones, where the site will be offline or not work as it should. Apologies in advance for this and many thanks for any help you can give with content for the site’.

That’s it folks and not before time I hear you say, but there is really a good deal going on which I wouldn’t like you to miss.  Safe diving.

Alan Jones
Chairman

Newsletter October 2018

Chairman’s Letter

Just tell me folks where has this year gone and here I am yet another year younger! So, what is on the Agenda? Well firstly there is the AGM on Thursdays, 22th. November 2018, which is a week later than usual due to the Dinner Dance having been put back a week. Our Equipment Officer, John Dunne is standing down this time round and there is also a new position of ‘Communication Officer’ up for grabs which will be advertised together with a job description within the next week. With regard to Tony Fitzpatrick, he has completed three years as Diving Officer and would normally stand down, however, due to the 2016 AGM being delayed until the February and meant he did not get a full year, he is now able to serve an extra year (Article 3 (b) of our Constitution). Of course, you should not forget that anybody can ‘throw their hat in the ring’ and challenge the present incumbents.’ up for grabs which will be advertised together with a job description within the next week. With regard to Tony Fitzpatrick, he has completed three years as Diving Officer and would normally stand down, however, due to the 2016 AGM being delayed until the February and meant he did not get a full year, he is now able to serve an extra year (Article 3 (b) of our Constitution). Of course, you should not forget that anybody can ‘throw their hat in the ring’ and challenge the present incumbents.

Speaking of the annual Dinner Dance, this is being held on Saturday, 17th. November 2018, at Birkenhead Park Rugby Club. So, what we have is the same venue and a similar format to last year, however, this year you will be dancing to ‘The Forty Thieves’ which is a fourpiece band that plays all usual the disco anthems that everybody gets up to and comes highly recommended. The down side is that we have had to raise the price from £38 to £40, but in fairness this is the first increase in quite a few years and you are getting a band. All the usual forms can be found on the club Notice board and tickets purchased from behind the bar.

As you are aware, the club has been looking to extend its footprint out into the rear car park, albeit that the Council are less than happy with our proposals. Accordingly, the committee has agreed to ‘Plan B’ and extend just the interior of the club, specifically knocking through into what used to be the kit store and redeveloping the bar area. I would hope that by the time of the AGM we will be able to present a detailed overview of the plans and a definite timetable for the work.

During the winter period we will be taking stock of all the club equipment and preparing a schedule for repair/replacement, testing and servicing. In fact, recently several of the club bottles have failed pressure testing, while some of the training regulators have seen better days. Accordingly, if anybody has any ‘gash’ kit they would like to donate to the club we can offer it a good home. Also, has anybody got any small pool fins they no longer use and where have all the weights gone from behind the bar? Can we have them back please?

Regarding training, Chris Woods and Steve Mills have already set in motion a series of lectures for up and coming Dive Leaders and Advanced Divers (they begin on Thursday, 4th. October 2018, usual place, usual time). In addition, ‘Stevie Mac’ is currently running, arguably the most important SDC you will ever do, namely buoyancy and trim. This will be followed over the weekend of the 3rd./4th. November with an Accelerated Decompression course run by Alistair Reynolds. We had also hoped to do include a Chartwork SDC in the current programme, however, with so much going on this will have to wait until the New Year.

That’s it folks, safe diving and I do hope to see you all in the near future.

Alan Jones