A message of thanks from Doug Sheppard

Obviously the curtailment of the season was a great disappointment for all of us associated with the TSI World Bracknell Bees. It really is a case of what might have been having produced a competitive end to the season that would have stood us in good stead heading into the playoffs.

As ever, there’s a huge bunch of people we have to thank for their commitment during the 2019/20 season – the culture we continue to develop is something we are incredibly proud of, with each of the individuals below playing a key role in the rejuvenation of our club.

On behalf of the directors and I. Firstly, we are supported by an incredible range of sponsors and corporate partners. Before the start of the season we welcomed TSI World on board as our title sponsors with Graeme and the Bower family becoming integral support in helping us achieve so much off the ice. We are sure it will continue to be a fantastic partnership and know their support will be key in helping to continue moving forward. We continue to be indebted to our ‘Platinum Partners’: The Tofoo Company, Thames Motors, Hire Direct, Courtney, Elsbury’s Accountants, Berkshire Cycles, Crowthorne Insurance and Young Epilepsy, along with all our other sponsors: Camberley Chiropractic Clinic, Everyone Active, AVSS, Maidenhead Aquatics, Black Iris Flowers, Broad Street Tavern, Morris and Blunt, The Money Guardian, Design by Detail, St. Vincents Vets, Alive IT Consultancy, IBS Office Solutions, Tech Data, HSP Reading and Daisy’s Inn Dog Boarding. The support of each of these companies is very much appreciated by all involved with the club and we hope supporters, over the coming months, will reach out and support these businesses where possible.

On a game-night, it is often the unheralded people who put in the most work. Our amazing team of off-ice officials ensure that game night runs smoothly (bar the odd scoreboard freeze…) so we’d like to thank the regular crew of Steve Merry, Simon King, Nick King, Lucy Spalton, Matt Whiddett, Mark Hatherley, Ivan White, Lizzy Hatherley (who it has been great to see give up so much time to help with the electronic gamesheet at a young age) and Pete Litwin for giving up their weekend enjoyment to help us provide entertainment to our great fanbase, as well as those who have helped from time-to-time like Fiona George-Smith, Harvey Rackley-Hayes, Tim Kingsbury and Libby Merry. In particular, we’d also like to once again thank Scott Collier for his work as our match-night DJ and being receptive to new ideas as we seek to continue building the best experience at the Hive.

We also are blessed with an incredible match-night team who help make the experience for sponsors, guests and supporters the best it possibly can be. Our hospitality suite continues to be the best in the league, a huge thank you to Richard Dobney and Chrissie McCarthy for their fantastic work taking care of our sponsors and guests, it never goes unnoticed. We’d also like to thank Katie Eleftheriou, Sharon Robinson and Erin O’Brien for their support with the ticketing and helping get people into the arena promptly.

We continue to build a great working relationship with the John Nike Leisuresport Group, highlighted this season by the freshening up of the seats across the building. Our thanks go out to Justin Wilson, Detty Howard, Louise Dickenson and all the staff involved with the rink, in particular Catrina Kariotoglou, who has made herself a popular figure within the team for her support throughout the week.

Hockey in Bracknell is continuing to turn into a 365 day of the year business. We have continued the good work we started on the shop last season, providing hockey and skating equipment to many users within the rink and beyond. We’d like to thank Andy Turner and Ben Clark for giving up midweek hours to help support this venture, there have been plenty of appreciative customers during the course of the season. Our schools and community programme have ensured that many new fans are getting to find out and learn about our great sport. From the ‘Summer of Fun’ through to School Visits; Dave Williams, Gemma Plowright, Ceri Williams and Kate Jones all continue to dedicate time and effort to promoting our club – something that can be shown by the rise in attendance figures during the course of the season. They should be incredibly proud of their efforts and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of them, especially with our fantastic mascot Buzz, who is taking a central role in our success. Once again, we are indebted to the Fettel Family for their support in helping bringing our larger than life character into existence.

The Bracknell Bees Academy was introduced this season and was a huge success and we were amazed how quickly the kids progressed so a special thanks to Alex Pirogov for his role as skating coach. Zack Milton, Casey Wilson and Ben Clark were a great supporting cast. We’d also like to thank Ceri Williams who does a fantastic job behind the scenes. The Academy has already produced four new kids to BIHC, it won’t be long until a few of them pull on a Bees jersey!

Our Supporters Club continue to help raise vital funds for the club via their match-night sales, it is always a delight to see so many people wearing the Bees badge with pride as part of the merchandise range, but also through the purchase of 50-50 and shirt off the back tickets. We’d like to thank all of the volunteers who give up their time to make that such a success, in particular Gary Murphy who took it upon himself to organise the coach to Romford for what proved to be the final game of the season – it was great to be roared on by so many fans and we hope it’s something we will see more of next season. Also, thanks for your numerous runs to and from the airport.

Our media team, led by Mark Denholm, continues to help promote the club across traditional and social media outlets. Bees TV goes from strength to strength, with thanks to Richard Brown and Andy Turner for stepping in during the season to continue delivering a service that is the envy to many across the league. Our partnerships with David Wright from the Bracknell News and Andy Preston from the Wokingham Paper give us a strong foothold in the local media (with thanks to Jon Teasey for his continued skills), supported by our fantastic match-night photographers Kevin Slyfield and Dan Blackham, who have helped capture so many memories this campaign. And we know many of you have listened to the Bees Radio Network if you have been unable to make it to the Hive or have tuned into the podcast – it has been a great introduction to bringing a higher level of professionalism to our output.

As ever, we are grateful to our incredible fanbase, thank you for sticking with us during the course of the season. It was always going to be a challenging year with the new National set-up and our attempts to blood more young players into the squad. We think you have seen a team develop during the course of the campaign, cheered on by your support both at home and on the road and it’s just a shame it will be the final pages of a book that will never get written.

To finish off, there’s a couple of additional thank you’s Doug would personally like to make…

I’m delighted to continue working alongside the best off-ice staff in the league. I know the guys appreciate the effort and professionalism they bring to ensure the smoothest operation we possibly can. Adi Worship, Brian Miller, Drew Poulson, Matt Plested and Tony Skinns have been here since the first day I walked in the door and have been joined by Bill Webb and David Spalton this season, I’d like to thank them all for the many hours up and down the country they have put in.

Also, a big thanks to John Dreelan & Jaycee Coaches for safely providing travel to our away games.

During the course of the season, I was delighted to welcome Melanie Eastwood on board as our Commercial Manager as part of my plans to keep this club moving forwards. Mel has introduced a wealth of ideas and provided a clarity of thinking with some of the steps we want to take. I’m sure that with her continued involvement we will be looking to an incredibly bright future and I look forward to bringing more of her ideas for growth to life in the coming years.

There’s not many days that go by where I don’t lean on my right hand man Graham Bell for his experience and expertise with the day-to day-operations. I can’t thank him enough for all his support, he always finds time to help with the professionalism of the Club.

I’m also extremely grateful for the support I’ve received personally from Stuart Robinson throughout the season. His positive leadership ensured we continue to make huge strides forward and look set to realise my vision and aims for the club.

And finally, to the players, thank you for all your hard work and commitment this season. I’d also like to extend a thank you to their families and loved ones for your continued support of them.

In reply Stuart Robinson added; “I’d like to say a massive THANK YOU to Doug from everyone!  He is without doubt a fantastic coach, has a wonderful sense of community and hockey business, is one of the nicest guys you could wish to meet and he is still leading us on our journey to an amazing future!”

Most importantly right now, I hope each and every one of you within our fanbase is staying safe. It won’t be long until we are back together at the Hive, the more patience we show right now will make that a reality quicker. BEE SAFE, BEE AWARE.