Volunteer Week Day 5 – Chris French


Chris French

Chairman – Pocklington Tennis Club

I am in my second term as Chairman of Pocklington Tennis Club, having been a member for over 35 years. The current term has seen major changes in a Club that is incredibly lucky to be in such a beautiful area in the shadow of the Wolds and within easy reach of Leeds, York, Beverley and Hull, therefore being an attractive place to live and commute.

   My role of Chairman has been made an enjoyable one as I am surrounded by a tremendous committee. Each one of the twelve members has a specific role within the Club which enables us to act as a proper team. The Committee is crucial to any club if it is to move forward with the changing times and develop facilities. On the Pocklington Committee we have members who efficiently go about their tasks, from a truly professional media guru to a young, talented and enthusiastic coach, a facilities manager who truly cares and takes pride in his efforts to the junior coordinators. We have a Business Manager as my background was not business, and it is totally necessary to run the amateur club as what is a business, albeit amateur.

   One of my major contributions apart from leadership, is my ability to submit and obtain funding. I blame my Police background for this as each part of any application should be proved, preferably with evidence!  It has consumed my life in recent years as I also have a volunteer role at Pocklington R.U.F.C. where I also deal with grants and funding. My wife and friends will corroborate this as I spend hours tapping away, knocking on funders and sponsors doors. Sponsorship and advertising is something that clubs at our level did not really consider, but it now brings in some vital funding and gives excellent coverage for local businesses at the same time. A lot of neighbouring clubs have followed our lead with not only the advertising, but our media news, which is often copied directly, which does make us smile to know we are helping.

   Teamwork is key to Pocklington Tennis Club and allows it run smoothly and efficiently, I also see the East Riding Tennis Clubs as a team. East Riding tennis especially the Wolds area is principally grass court tennis and plays in the Driffield and District Lawn Tennis League. Whilst tennis is played in a most fantastic, sociable, albeit competitive spirit in quaint villages with their third court often being at private house or farm it is not sustainable in modern times. Some of my favourite memories have been on a summer’s night on these old courts. Once, during a match an old farmer came out of his house to the court we were using for the match with a tray of drinks for the Pocklington Boys on changeover which was a tray with a cut glass Whisky decanter and ice in an attempt to put us off our game!!
   These clubs firstly need to appreciate that every club should have minimum standards of safeguarding and welfare in order to play the game, and to come under the umbrella of the National Governing Body, the L.T.A. Unfortunately tennis cannot be played all of the year round, even on wonderful grass. However, attempting to change a Yorkshire farmers mind about anything is difficult, where money is involved, more so.

   Therefore my role as a Yorkshire Tennis Councillor for Yorkshire Tennis is twofold, to attempt to persuade the clubs not registered to the L.T.A. to attain the standard, and then join the LTA. My main role is to support the registered clubs. In the East Riding there are some very well run clubs indeed, Beverley & East Riding T.C. have a superb tennis pedigree and Bubwith T.C. have an excellent committee, amongst others in the East Riding.
   There are some struggling clubs who need the help and support and Yorkshire Tennis can help if only by pointing them in the right direction. My advice to most is that your committee is key to the success of your club as it is a solid platform from which to work.