My term as Chairman of the Board finishes at the end of this year and I will not offer my availability for a second term. I’m pleased to confirm that the Directors have elected Fiona O‘Hara as the new Chairman of the Board and they have also agreed to the appointment of a Vice-Chair in Jude Matthews. The official appointments will happen at the next Board meeting and I wish them well in their new roles.
Since I made my decision, I have reflected back on my term. I took over when there was instability on the Board, we needed to recruit and appoint a new CEO and there was no agreed long term strategy in place. These all have been addressed. We now enjoy having a strong Board with very competent and motivated Directors. I was delighted to see Nigel Taylor re-elected who has done an excellent job as International Director and secondly to welcome Chris Tattersall onto the Board who has a wealth of knowledge, experience and gravitas. And only recently, on the 5th of December, the Board, together with the Executive team, reviewed the Strategic Plan and the outcome is a realignment of the Strategic Plan to focus on 5 key objectives which will give the Executive clearer direction to take the Sport forward. Details will follow on this from the Board in due course.
I recognise this has been a challenging year for the membership starting with the wet spring and then the drought, which led to limited opportunities for members to run their horses. This has had a knock on effect to our Organisers, who were running their events in many instances at breakeven and in some cases at a loss.
I also recognise that some issues over this year should have and could have been handled differently and more effectively. However, and most importantly, the key lesson learned is that we need to improve our communications to all our stakeholders and members. We recognise this and are taking steps to improve over 2019.
Our Sport though is in a good healthy state and so I wish to reflect on some key points:
- The commitment and passion shown by all our members and which is so clearly evident at every event.
- The commitment shown by all who deliver the sport, to improve and progress and I thank all our Organisers for delivering the best events across the county,
- The team spirit that is evident at all our events, led by our Organisers, Officials and the fantastic Volunteer community.
- The quality of our Officials which is first class and their commitment is truly impressive.
- The commitment displayed by our team in the office and out in the field which is exemplary. All the work that is done to administer and regulate our sporting environment, the overall national governance required and the developments of new initiatives is complex and they are committed to deliver this, with our members in the forefront of their minds.
I also reflect of course on two issues having caused a lot of debate: IT and our Commercial Strategy. On IT, I can say that in all the deliberations and decisions the Board Directors made, from the initial scoping to where we are now, these were always, and I mean always, done with the best interest of our sport and our members at its heart. Regarding the Commercial Strategy, again, as the uncertainty of our sport remaining in the Olympics continues, meaning there is a real threat to our income, the Board has a duty to explore all potential commercial opportunities available. The decision to invest into developing the strategy was to create a long term solid platform from which the sport as a whole can benefit in commercial terms. This strategy puts us in the best position to strengthen our brand and our sport commercially, making it a much better proposition to invest in at any level.
One big highlight this year has been the restructure of the World Class Performance set up at the BEF including the surrounding governance with the subsequent appointment of our new World Class Performance Manager Dickie Waygood and World Class Performance Coach Chris Bartle. Their subsequent successful results at the Europeans in 2017 and the fabulous result at WEG this year with Team Gold and Individual Gold with Ros Canter are the outcome of the work done behind the scenes with the BEF at what was a very difficult time for them. These results should serve as an inspiration to the whole Eventing community, to our other teams and the industry.
The rise of the new ERM Series over the last four years has been impressive, and is a good example of collaborative working in a new initiative. It has helped improve the presentation and engagement of the Sport and bringing new levels of prize money into our sport. I wish to pay tribute to Jeremy Skinner and the Eventing Live Board and most of all to Chris and Lisa Stone, along with their ERM team, for having the vision and confidence to support this series.
Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to thank and recognise the current Board Directors and the previous Directors that I have worked with for their considerable contribution and sacrifice. In passing I would like to “mention in dispatches” Giles Roswell, Tim Holderness-Roddam and Guy Prest for their contribution. In addition our President Jane Holderness-Roddam has given wise counsel throughout, for which I am most grateful.
It has been an honour and a privilege to serve our sport as a Director and Chairman of the Board and to witness the passion and success enjoyed by our members at all levels. But I now return to focus on our own businesses which requires my full attention.
December 19, 2018