Update from Chair of the BE Board Fiona O'Hara
I hope you will have seen the announcement from the BEF this morning giving an overview of what we, BD and BS are all working on while our competitions are on hold. I would like to thank Malcolm Wharton and his team at the BEF for their support over the last few weeks. As a follow up, I’d like to share with you the actions BE is taking to ensure that we look after our sport and be ready to restart.
COVID-19 has, as a minimum, disrupted all our lives. For some, it has, and will have, a catastrophic effect on their families and livelihoods. There are days when I remind myself to keep our BE challenges in perspective. That said, we have responsibilities to our members first and foremost and to our staff, sponsors, volunteers, owners and organisers. Discussions between myself and the Directors as well as our many stakeholders are daily events as we take stock, listen to feedback, solve problems and of course plan, for the future.
The principal topics that we discuss at the virtual board meetings are all familiar to you I’m sure and include; readiness for a restart, financial modelling - looking at income projections and costs - working on fixes to EARS (Entries, Admin, Results and Scoring) and of course pursuing abandonment refunds from the insurer who, so far, has not accepted the claim. As well as working on these immediate priorities we are also looking to the future and discussing ideas for eventing and what and how BE will provide services to the members.
So, I would like to update you on these priorities, the tough decisions we have made and what to expect as we move forward.
- A great deal of work has gone into preparing a number of scenarios and we are working with organisers to ensure we have an appropriate plan in place for when we have a green light to re-start. This includes working through adjustments that can be made to run within the confines of social distancing and online streaming of larger events.
- Our main source of income is from membership and levels are decreasing. We have adopted a conservative view that this trend will continue through 2020 and we feel it is realistic to assume membership will take time to get back to current levels in 2021. We are therefore taking action to adjust costs in anticipation of a reduction in income in 2020 and 2021.
- In light of the extension to lock down and in anticipation of a gradual ease of the restrictions, we have decided to furlough more of our staff at the end of this week (in line with the government job retention scheme) and will review this as each period of furlough leave comes to an end.
- Our CEO and COO have voluntarily agreed to a reduction in pay and the Board are grateful for this demonstration of commitment to BE.
- The Board will continue to govern and set the direction for BE, specifically in the coming weeks the board will be working closely with the executive team to:
- Pursue the insurance company for the payment of abandonment monies. For those impacted by this, we will have a further update next week as we are expecting a response to our challenge by Friday.
- Oversee work on the entries and admin system (EARS)
- Planning for the future - we will look at all aspects of eventing and to help design BE for the future I have asked some of the best brains in eventing to form an advisory group to work with the Board. We will also include the ideas and feedback from the recently formed Riders Working Group to inform our thinking.
So, what does this mean for members?
Communications: For the next three weeks, only essential communications will be issued and we ask that you only contact the team with urgent enquiries. Members are encouraged to use the ‘Contact Us’ facility on the BE website as their route for communication with the BE office, as this communication channel will still be monitored. We apologise in advance if the slower response times cause any inconvenience – your patience is much appreciated.
Membership and direct debit queries: these will be answered at the end of the three week furlough when the relevant team member is back in the office.
Sport recommencing: Work with our stakeholder groups, including the rider working groups, will slow down while the remaining team will continue to work on recommencement planning.
I would like to acknowledge and thank all of you who have continued to support BE by renewing your membership and to encourage those of you who can to do so. This constitutes 70% of our source of income so is vital. I would also like to extend my thanks to those of you who have written to us with ideas, thoughts and offers of support. I do feel that, if we as an eventing community pull together, as we have seen many communities across the country do, we will come out of this challenging situation stronger and I hope…ready to win some rosettes!
With my very best wishes to you all.