A Message from Our President
21 May 2021
A Message to All Willowers
The loss of Mike Dormer is keenly felt by all of us associated with The Willows and the “game of life”. It is hard to calculate the effect, but all too easy to feel the loss.
However, Mike was able to address his last innings with courage, determination, and a surprisingly high level of reflection. He was determined that all that makes The Willows a great club should continue, but was ambitious for its future. He was able to set this out, in discussion, and in the many messages he sent people.
The Management Committee has acted on these, and this is a short report on how The Willows is travelling as we ready for the next season. The Committee has established portfolios of responsibility, and long experienced Willowers will helm these. Mike appointed Phil Harris as the “Chief Administrator” as he called himself when he felt appropriate, usually to countermand a decision made by the Committee. He took great pleasure in “handing over” The Willows to his son Ben, who I have had the pleasure of knowing since he was a small boy, and bears some of his father’s characteristics, particularly in taking decisions and acting on them. Mike delegated to Paul Rutledge the initiative for improved coaching in schools, especially those lacking resources, which was so dear to his heart, and from a low point prospered in his meeting with Martin Snedden of New Zealand Cricket shortly before Mike died. The Willows is in an excellent position to help the initiatives of New Zealand Cricket around secondary school coaching.
Mike was drawn to the women’s game gradually but it was a delight for him to see the skills and enthusiasm of the St Hilda’s Collegiate and Christchurch Girls’ High First XIs at The Willows, two games now having been played. The Committee is very pleased to report that the initiative has expanded, with the co-option to the Committee of Kirsty Bond, former New Zealand International, who will allow an expert perspective on how The Willows can assist in the development of the women’s game, fulfilling a significant role on the Management Committee and in liaison with other cricket associations. Kirsty was the first woman to score 200 runs in a test match and with long experience in selection and coaching. A further highlight is the selection of Molly Loe to play in The Willowers XI against Otago Boys’ High School next season, a first.
At a structural level The Willows needs to advance. We are in discussions with three clubs in England, wanting to expand the “scholarship” connections, on a reciprocal basis if possible, commencing next year should COVID allow. Mike very much wanted these reciprocal arrangements to be extended and deepened, and with the I Zingari and the Primary Club, Clifton in Hawkes Bay, Old Tablelands in the Wairarapa, and the Wanderers in Wellington. There are initiatives for further games including a youth team from the Queenstown Lakes District.
Touring to the sub-continent is on hold, but Mike was determined that it resume, as it was a source of great pride to him, and was the association with Cricket Live, supporting young people in Sri Lanka. He had a further initiative well advanced, intended to bring young Indian cricketers to Canterbury for cricket, schooling and university, with reciprocity. We will report further on this.
The void at the ground will be filled in part by the very successful introduction of Match Managers, so that for each game there will be a manager responsible for selection, and the day, backed up by a match day host. So everyone attending fixtures on an annual basis, whether playing or in support, will see the same set-up, the same people, and the same legacy of Mike’s hospitality each time. The deck chairs will be placed exactly as he put them out each matchday, with the umbrellas, and the lemon tea ready to go.
The Willows will need to address its financial position afresh. Mike “held the cheque book” despite the futile attempts to wrest it from him. The Committee has discussed the addition of another changing room behind the Pavilion, (so as not to distort the symmetry) and this will require significant capital funding. The provision of water to the outfield is well underway, through the generosity of Ben, and the Committee is looking at a picket fence on the Pavilion side of the ground, which we may link with funding for The Willows. We have no capital base, and must address this, through donations, sponsorship, and subscriptions. A foundation trust was established, which should be supplemented to provide another form of capital security.
The Committee has also appointed Hugo Davison, a Willows stalwart, and close to Mike, as the first Club Captain. Hugo’s role is to reflect and represent the playing members, to liaise with the Committee with ideas, and to be part of the growing fellowship of The Willows which began with an excellent golf tournament at Coringa, the week of Mike’s service, and we will commence six weekly gatherings of The Willows year round, at a suitable hostelry in Christchurch. Hugo is a very active Willower, and a strong presence who will bring a lot to the life of the Club.
There is much else to report, and there will be reflection of course in the Annual Report. The message I want to convey is that we are up and running, towards the new season, and I am confident we are doing what Mike wanted, with some fresh ideas.
To all those who have written to me as President, you will in due course receive an individual reply but for now the generosity of your remarks about Mike and the Club are much appreciated.
For anyone who wishes to donate or sponsor The Willows to sustain the Club and help it achieve its aims, please contact any of the Management Committee or me directly on 0211940072 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
To the future -
Hon Nicholas Davidson QC