Hamilton Club honours its past with a generous legacy
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At a special general meeting in May 2017, The Hamilton Club members voted to distribute Hamilton Club's remaining capital assets of $1.3 million to five key local organisations, including a gift of $100,000 to Momentum Waikato for the Waikato Regional Theatre.
The Hamilton Club committee, led by President Gordon Chesterman, have been working on the dissolution of the club with the club's wider membership for more than a year. The Club’s building in Grantham Street was sold 12 years ago, after social changes inevitably saw the club – along with others of its kind nationwide - lose most of its membership.
Members were determined to see a silver lining in the sale of their premises - a financial legacy to the city that will ensure the club's name lives on, and it continues to add to the fabric of the city.
There will be funds for scholarships of $350,000 each to Waikato University and Wintec; Hamilton Gardens Development Trust will get $350,000; Waikato Medical Research Foundation $150,000; and the Theatre $100,000. "It's a hugely worthwhile outcome," says Gordon "the club's legacy will benefit the city in so many ways." He says choosing recipients was tough "Everywhere you looked there were good opportunities to give to."
Momentum Waikato Chair Leonard Gardner is delighted with the club’s gift. “We appreciate that the club has chosen to back the theatre project and the work Momentum Waikato is doing leading the development of a new regional theatre. This gift will create a lasting impact, ensuring future generations will benefit. We look forward to sharing the story of the Hamilton Club, and the legacy they have left the city with the theatre project.”
The gifted funds are from the sale of the club's building in 2009 to Project Grantham for $1.7 million. There were debts to be settled at that time and the remaining money was placed in a bank term deposit while members debated a plan for the future. In the past few months the fund has been augmented by the sale of furnishings including billiard tables, leather chairs, and a grandfather clock understood to have been made in the late 1700s.
It has not been easy winding the club up. With legal assistance from Hamilton law firm Tompkins Wake, the club's longtime rules were changed and simplified. The 75 per cent voting majority was lowered to two-thirds, and proxy votes were allowed at annual meetings and special general meetings.
Last September members voted unanimously to wind up and submissions were then sought from them on what organisations should get the money.
There were 17 submissions and 46 options identified. A ranking document was sent out, followed by a painstaking process of collating the data. This was run solely by scrutineer Deryck Walter, a retired lawyer, club trustee and life member.
In May, members voted – amid considerable discussion - on the five priority organisations identified by the ranking analysis and then voted on how much each would get. The final vote to seal the deal was carried 37-1.
Gordon says the process could not have been rushed and there was a great deal of communication with members. "Every member had an opportunity to be part of the outcome. The club has had a long history. It was about respecting what it had done for the community, and respecting the existing older members."
Read the history of Hamilton Club’s here
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