Hockey's Military Stories

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1. New Chair

It is with great pleasure that we have been able to attract John Wilmott to be the next permanent Chair. John will be known to many through his Southgate and 1986 World Cup days involvement. He brings not only hockey passion and knowledge, but business and charity chairing experience.

John will take up the reins as Chair on 1 April 2020; in the meantime, he will be appointed a Trustee and attend meetings in December and March as well as getting to know the ins and out of the museum.

2. NLHF Resilient Heritage Project

Late last year we succeeded in our application with the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF; previously Heritage Lottery Fund) for a grant to pay for consultants to work with us to undertake a Resilience Project. We had previously talked to the NLHF about grant applications and they said two things: we must understand our (existing and potential) audiences better and also undertake a Resilience Project if we were to stand a chance of successful major grant applications in future.

The project work began in the spring and recently concluded. Three strands of work were undertaken:

Audience Research And Development Priorities

Analysis and research of our various audiences was carried out: the general hockey player, hockey clubs, the Woking community and international hockey NGBs . Interviews (online and at the FIH PRO League) and focus groups were undertaken where practical and conclusions drawn.

One key conclusion is that we need to develop our audience reach, including a much stronger social media presence working with our key funder and partner, England Hockey, to build our online audience capacity. England Hockey have over 100,000 Facebook followers and tens of thousands of Twitter and Instagram users. Feeding in regular stories (particularly those built around major events and anniversaries e.g. Tokyo Olympics) will help England Hockey with engaging the hockey community, but also build our contact base which should feed through to more ‘Friends’ of the museum, more donations and more volunteers. In time it should also result in more physical visits to the museum. This work is already in hand.

The next key priority is to build stronger relationships with hockey clubs in the immediate area and those that wish to celebrate major anniversaries. This work should result in more volunteers recruited to the museum cause and in time a small income stream (for helping clubs research their histories). Links to the Woking community will be focused on after our move to our permanent premises – see below. Our work with international NGBs continues in a low-key way but has been hampered by the temporary suspension of our grant stream from the FIH due to their financial difficulties – also see below.

A further key recommendation was to explore the potential for a mobile exhibition facility.

Income Generation Work

Analysis of our various income streams and brainstorming about building existing streams and generating new ones was undertaken. Our principle regular income streams are England Hockey’s grant, the FIH’s (suspended) grant, one-off donations, the Friends of THM scheme, and other smaller streams.

Various ideas were explored and comparisons with other similar museums carried out and conclusions drawn. Our partnership with England Hockey will be strengthened, clarity on the ongoing relationship with the FIH is being sought, focus on one-off donations will continue and the Friends scheme will be re-launched in 2021 once we have established ourselves in our new premises; we still need more Friends to sign up to our scheme so please consider doing so. A major conclusion though, was that we should be regularly applying for grants and ensuring we build in full cost recovery into such applications which will help underpin core running costs of the museum. A priority list of which grants to apply for has been drawn up.

Governance Work

The third and final work stream was to review all our governance processes and documents and recommend which ones need to be reviewed and improved and which ones we needed to add. This was a helpful piece of work and the priorities will be tackled slowly and steadily over the next few years.

In addition to all this, a visioning day and subsequent strategy days updated our Vision, Mission and strategic objectives for the next five years. These are currently being tidied up and summarised and will be presented to interested volunteers later this year or early in the new year. One of the key objectives will for the museum to become ‘digital by default’ by 2024.

3. The International Hockey Federation (FIH)

I mentioned above the issue with our grant suspension. This is nothing to do with us as a museum; the FIH has been extremely pleased with the work we have been doing. The issue is that the FIH has severe financial problems and they decided that they had no choice but to suspend our grant for 2020, unfortunately with very little notice. Clarity is being sought as to whether this is likely to be reinstated beyond 2020. If they do not reinstate our grant stream then we will have to reprioritise our own work programmes.

4. New Premises

We are still hoping to move to more spacious premises in Woking though the exact date for such a move and the terms of any lease are as yet unclear. It is now likely to be 2021 before this move takes place. This is, in some ways, perhaps a good thing as it will enable us to start implementing many strands of the Resilience Project work throughout 2020.

Philip Kimberley, Acting Chair THM Board
December 2019

Hockey's Military Stories: An Introduction

This research project was prompted by the enormous interest and publicity that has surrounded the centenary of the start of WW1. We knew that many, indeed thousands, of hockey players were involved and that many lost their lives. The stories do not just relate to serving men but also those...

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Lieutenant Eric Walter Poyntz Westmacott RN

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