Monday, 22 April 2019

Club tight-lipped on executive departure

Club tight-lipped on executive departure

THE director and secretary of Phyllis Court Club in Henley has left after 10 years.

Mystery surrounds the departure of Graham Owen, who left the private members’ club off Marlow Road in January.

The club would not comment on whether Mr Owen had resigned or been asked to leave but chairman Barry Jackson said it was a result of “discussions” between them.

His departure was followed by the resignation of fitness centre manager Adam Powell in February after less than a year in the job but the club says the two were not connected.

Mr Jackson told the Henley Standard: “We had discussions and… we agreed to keep the conversations in confidence. Graham is quite a private man.

“He’s a guy of the highest integrity and the message from the club about his departure we agreed with him. We’d talked about it for a long while.

“It was amicable and there’s very little more I can say without giving away the confidences I personally agreed with him.

“Any decision about any member of staff is normally made at management level and, if it’s a senior position, it’s discussed with the directors. They are separate from the trustees.” Mr Jackson paid tribute to Mr Owen, saying he had worked for five club chairmen.

He continued: “In the club’s history we have had 20 secretaries and he is only the second to serve for 10 years.

“He was a long-serving employee of the company, highly respected, with huge integrity.

“During the last 10 years the club has undergone major change, including building the fitness centre, refurbishing the Riverside Pavilion and purchasing the paddock as well as significant strengthening of management and systems.

“Our relationship with our reciprocal clubs is strong and Graham is a well-known figure in these circles.

“We will begin the search for a replacement for this challenging role and will provide updates in due course.

“In the meantime, I as chairman and Stan Ainsley as deputy chairman will liaise closely with the management team to ensure the ongoing smooth running of the club. Other members of council will be providing support where appropriate.

“The future of the club is basically to build on what we have already. We have a successful business. There’s no major change of direction.”

The club is currently advertising for a new chief executive and secretary on a salary of £80,000 to £100,000 via headhunting firm Berwick Partners. Mr Powell was appointed last April with the task of completing the new fitness centre, which opened in September.

Thereafter he was responsible for devising the fitness class programme, including the timetable schedules and treatment menus. He also headed up staffing and operations.

Mr Jackson said: “I believe his real love is setting up ventures, getting a successful venture going and looking for another one. He did a great job for what he was brought in to do.”

Commercial director Caroline O’Connor said: “Adam came to set up the fitness centre for us and he has done so. However much we wanted to keep him, he has gone on to his next challenge. I wish him all the best — he did a fabulous job for us.”

Meanwhile, the club has co-opted two new members on to its council.

Sue van der Veen, who has served previously, chairs the club’s computer interest group and has run the charity action group’s quiz night in conjunction with her husband Marten.

She previously had a successful career in education.

Chris Thompson is vice-chairman of the river and boating group and has organised many successful trips.

He served in the RAF and the Navy before becoming senior administration officer at the University of Oxford until his retirement.

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