Message From The President – 31/03/2020

 I thought that if I was going to write something this week, I should do it today and not wait until tomorrow – April Fools Day. I am sure that if we had been told that we would have to isolate ourselves in our homes on the 1st April we would all have thought it was an elaborate April Fool joke. Unfortunately, that is not the case and the true extent of the health crisis facing us is beginning to feel real.  There is good news, the efforts put in by everyone do seem to be paying off but there is still a long way to go. However in among all of the bad news there is lots of good and although there still seem to be people who are not being considerate of others there are many more who are doing their best to make sure we do not become too despondent.

Not least amongst these are some of our own members and I am sure you will all join me in thanking Paul McCarthy for his extremely entertaining and informative quizzes which greet us every day.  Personally, I have had mixed fortunes. I was very good on the first one – my general knowledge of animals served me in good stead, and quite good on the Liverpool questions, although to be honest I can’t remember ever noticing that Bessie Braddock was holding an egg, never mind knowing why.  (That little gem is definitely being added to my visitor information pack).  My space knowledge was rather more limited. There was quite a lot of ‘I’m sure I know the answer but ……’  Thank you Paul.

I also know you will all want to thank our Hon Treasurer, Martin, for his excellent work in keeping us all up to date with the financial position.  Martin has been working tirelessly and I cannot aye how much I appreciate all his efforts.

This missive is not meant to be too serious though.  I am lucky to live in Lydiate about 5 minutes walk from the fields and lanes of the Lancashire plain. Having two dogs I have been making the most of the opportunity to get out and enjoy my one daily walk with them. Last week the weather was beautiful and during one walk I heard a woodpecker, saw potatoes being harvested and then saw some oyster catchers enjoying the newly ploughed up earth. On another morning the sun was shining, the sky was blue and in one of the fields, still showing the signs of the heavy rain we had earlier in the year, there was an expanse of water which was the most beautiful shade of turquoise.  One of my walks takes me past a market garden and in a field opposite their greenhouses there was a mound of earth which had been dumped with the remains of past plantings – a rather sad but beautiful array of abandoned flowers – pansies and primroses in every shade.  In other fields the farmers have been working hard and showing that life carries on as normal and many of the fields are now ploughed and waiting for their new crops.  

I hope that you are finding ways of keeping yourselves occupied but I thought I would end this one with a little challenge of my own.

Take a look at the cartoon below and see how many well-known phrases or figures of speech you can come up with.  There are supposed to be 27 although quite a few more can be found. I will send out the 27 answers which the cartoonist used to design the picture tomorrow but see what you can do in the meantime.

One to start with:

                The cat’s got his tongue

Very best wishes to you all


Note From The President – 25/03/2020

Note from the President

Can I first of all say a huge good day to everyone and I hope that you are all well and managing to avoid infection.

It is just a week since we initially made the decision to temporarily close the Athenaeum and cancel forthcoming events, but what a week! We are now all very familiar with the terms ‘to socially distance oneself’ and ‘self-isolation’ and now we have been directed to restrict all movement outside, but I suspect it is only just beginning to sink in how great an impact these actions will have.

Our Club Secretary, Jack, has risen to the challenge superbly and I feel we are already waiting in anticipation for the next installment of the Corona Chronicles. In these difficult times, it is reassuring to know that life can go on as usual. It is also cheering to hear good news – the successful completion of his course by Jack and the appointment of His Honour John Roberts as High Sheriff of Merseyside.  Well done to both, it is only sad that we can’t celebrate with them in an appropriate manner – so I charge you all to raise a glass wherever you are.

Despite the doors of the Athenaeum being closed, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes and when the time comes to open again we will be ready. The welcome news from the Government of support for small businesses means that we can provide support for our staff and keep ticking over until business resumes.

As Jack said in Chronicles No 2, please do keep in contact.  We would like to be able to entertain you with items of interest, so if you have anything you think other proprietors would find interesting, please put pen to paper and send an article to Jack for publication. I also thought that a number of you might like to keep mentally active in other ways so we are introducing the Corona Writing Competition – anything the youngsters can do in the Frank Moran Young Writers Award, we can do as well.  This is open to all proprietors and you are invited to submit 1000 – 1200 words of original prose which can be in the form of a short story, a travel essay or something of personal interest. It can be serious or amusing. Entries can be submitted to .

The closing date for entries is Monday 4th May.  After judging selected entries will be posted for your enjoyment.  I do hope that you will find this an amusing way to pass the time.

With respect to activities during our enforced movement restrictions I was reminded of a game that I played at my youngest daughter’s hen party. This involved making a wedding dress out of toilet paper – now we know why there are no toilet rolls left in the shops! Is this the latest hobby to pass the time? There is actually an annual competition where dresses are made using only toilet tissue, tape, glue and thread – guess which dresses were in the final!  My effort at the hen party looked more like those on the left, but we were very proud of our efforts and the bride looked beautiful on the day.

I would love to know how you are keeping yourselves active and entertained so do keep in touch and let us know if there is anything we can do to help anyone.  I am now off to do my bit in a pharmacy – on a practical note, if you need a prescription renewing do not hesitate to contact your local pharmacy, they will arrange for the repeat to be sent to them and will then deliver the medicines to your door.

Just give them a few days as it might take a little longer than usual.

I have to go now so keep well and stay in touch.

All the very best to you and your families and friends


The Corona Chronicles Vol. 1

Good day all,    

As we progress into these troubling and uncertain times, we are regularly comforted with the positive mantra that we will get through this together, and that we will come out on the other side both closer and stronger. Its a sentiment I firmly believe to be true, and it is togetherness that should not be overlooked. We may not be able to access our Clubhouse, but the community of people it houses is far greater than just a building. For you, as a member are part of an Institution that has made a difference to life in the city since its inception in 1797, and that is certainly no different today. The conversations and discussions that are had in our premises need not stop because for a period as we cannot enter. So I would encourage all members as our President already has, keep in contact with your fellow member. Log onto the Members Area look through the contact database, and start the next conversation. Why not meet with members you haven’t met yet, but online? Unless they have opted out each member has the opportunity to add a picture and a bio to their profile in the Members Area. Go and take a look and familiarise yourself with your peers you may not have met yet. If you haven’t updated yours I invite you to do so, we have an amazing network here in the Athenaeum one that perhaps is underutilised. Whilst we may have a little added time on our hands there is no reason not to update your profile and let your fellow member know who you are. Our membership is an under used resource, and this could be a key to help unlock its potential.  

As I continue on the subject of togetherness, I speak directly to any of our Members who are currently isolating on their own, or are unable to leave the house, or are having a tough time at present. If you need anything, get in touch, drop myself an email and we will organise support for you. Dont go without, dont hesitate to ask for help. You are part of a community that can help you, and will help you if you need it. This email is monitored frequently and I will ensure anyone who needs it gets the support they need.    

It is my intention to keep writing to the Membership as frequently as possible, daily where possible, to ensure you all remain connected with the Club at a time where it would be easy to disconnect. I will be putting together a variety of things to share, but I welcome input from yourselves. I would love to hear and share the stories of the membership. Stories of the Club, stories in their lives, of anything at all. I would love to hear and share items of interest, what do you feel should be shared with your members? This regular blog could be me waffling along from time to time or could be an interactive dialogue with all you, I appreciate both are probably very appealing but I’m sure the latter would mean so much more.  

Lastly, I leave you with some positive news in this gloomy time. I am immensely fortunate to have an employer in the Athenaeum who is committed to supporting its staff in their personal development. Some of you will know that over the past 12 months I have been undergoing training through my professional body, the Club Managers Association of Europe, working my way through their Management Development Programme. Midway through last month, before all this madness hit us, I submitted my work based assignment which featured all the elements and knowledge that I have acquired over the course. After some delay in receiving the results due to the dreaded virus, I was delighted to receive the news today that I had passed the assessment and have received their accredited Club Manager Diploma qualification (CMDip)! If I can take the opportunity, I would like to thank the Members and Committees for their continue support of both myself and my personal development, and I look forward to continue putting these new skills into action as part of the Clubs journey to great success.  

On that note I bid you adieu, and remember if you anyone out there needs any support or assistance, just get in touch.  

Stay safe.  

Jack Birley
Club Secretary

Temporary Closure – Covid-19

Dear all,

The Main Committee met this morning (Tuesday 17th March) as a matter of urgency to consider the escalation of the Covid-19 threat and its impact on Club in terms of the safety of staff, Proprietors and visitors.

In considering an appropriate response the Committee were mindful of our membership, government recommendations and the very real risk of voluntary isolation becoming more prevalent.

In taking all of these factors into account, the Committee has made the decision to close the Club with effect from the end of business today, until Monday 4th May. This will be regularly reviewed by the Club Secretary and Officers of the Institution and any relevant news will be published as it comes to hand.

This decision is not one that has been taken likely and many of our Proprietors will have been involved in similar decisions within other organisations that they are involved with and have an understanding of the complexities of a rapidly changing environment. The Committee’s main consideration is to ensure that everyone connected with The Athenaeum is kept as safe as possible. 

This is a difficult time and each of us is faced with our private and professional challenges, and I hope that we can rely both on your understanding and support as we look forward to welcoming the membership back into the Institution as soon as is practicable.

As part of the agreed plan, the phone lines will move to voicemail this evening, and the email address of the Club Secretary ( will be given to all callers. This will be monitored daily and Proprietors may expect a response to any questions that you may have in a timely fashion. Over the next couple of days, the Club Secretary will be in regular email contact with further information and a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) will appear on the website.

Lastly, may I take the opportunity, as has been reiterated elsewhere, to remind you that regular contact with your friends, by telephone or email will be the best indication of your concern for their well-being, and will be appreciated more than face to face visits. The majority of the Member’s email addresses and telephone numbers, should they have been approved, are available through the Members’ Area of the website and contact between Proprietors is naturally encouraged.

Stay safe and well, with every good wish,

Dr Gaynor Bresnen


Tuesday 17 March 2020