British Rowing Chairman Annamarie Phelps CBE to step down

Annamarie Phelps will be stepping down from her position as Chairman of the Board and Council as a result of the implementation of the UK Government’s new Code for Sports Governance


Annamarie Phelps CBE

After successfully leading British Rowing for the last four years, the national governing body (NGB) today announces that Annamarie Phelps CBE, 51, will be stepping down from her position as Chairman of the Board and Council, effective 31 March 2018, as a result of the implementation of the UK Government’s new Code for Sports Governance.

Following a successful international rowing career representing Great Britain at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, and winning a World Championship title in the women’s lightweight coxless four, Phelps was elected to the Board of British Rowing as Deputy Chairman in 2002 during which time she acted as the NGB’s Lead Safeguarding Officer. In 2013, she succeeded the late Dame Di Ellis to become non-executive Chairman and take overall responsibility for the strategic direction of British Rowing.

In February 2017, she was re-elected as Chairman for a further four-year term following British Rowing’s standard governance processes which began in November 2016.  Since then, however, with the implementation of the new Code for Sports Governance it has been calculated that Phelps has already served the maximum time allowed on the Board and is, therefore, required to step down in order for British Rowing to comply with the new Code. The Code states that a director may serve on the Board for a maximum nine years, or up to twelve years if appointed Chairman.  Deputy Chairman Gary Harris has already served 16 years as Deputy Chairman and so must also step down. Also affected by the implementation of the new Code are Christopher Anton and Bonner Davies who will be stepping down from Council effective 31 October 2017.

Under Phelps’s leadership, British Rowing has made significant strides to modernise its business model, improve inclusiveness and diversity across the sport and broaden the appeal of rowing to new and younger audiences.  She has been instrumental in pioneering gender equality not just in rowing but across a number of sports in the UK while she has played a major role in developing adaptive rowing in Great Britain. Annamarie also oversaw a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games for the GB Rowing Team at Rio 2016. With her skilled facilitation, British Rowing has built even stronger relations with the international federation FISA (World Rowing) and many other national federations.

“It has been a privilege and honour to lead British Rowing for the past four years,” Phelps said.  “Working with my fantastic colleagues on both the Board and Council, I am proud of what we have been able to achieve to drive the sport forward. I am indebted to the staff and amazing volunteers who I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. This includes our superb Deputy Chairman, Gary Harris, and Christopher Anton and Bonner Davies as Council members who have given so much of their time for rowing but must also step down. I would like to put on record how grateful I am for their support and unwavering commitment.”

On the future, Phelps said, “Planning is already underway to appoint my successor and I am confident that under a new Chairman rowing will continue to grow and thrive. I will remain actively involved in the sport and wish everyone at British Rowing the greatest success for the future.”

In addition to her roles on both the Board and Council of British Rowing, Phelps is also a Trustee of the British Paralympic Association and was elected vice-chair of the British Olympic Association earlier this year.  In May, Annamarie was elected to the European Rowing Management Board of the international rowing federation, FISA. None of these positions are affected.

Commenting on the news, British Rowing’s Chief Executive Officer, Andy Parkinson, said, “While we fully support the new Code for Sports Governance introduced by the Government, we are extremely disappointed that Annamarie will not be able to complete her second term as Chairman. I want to sincerely thank Annamarie, on behalf of the sport, for her loyalty, dedication and passion. Annamarie is a hugely influential and popular figure within rowing not just in Great Britain but globally and it is an understatement to say that she will be greatly missed by everyone at British Rowing.”

British Rowing will now start the search for a new Chairman under the rules of the Code for Sports Governance. Commenting on this, Parkinson added, “The Board has high expectations of being able to secure a high calibre individual with the right skills and experience to lead British Rowing over the coming years. The Board and I will now focus on this important recruitment process to ensure a smooth transition in the long-term interest of the sport.”

Phelps and Harris will continue a full programme of activity in their roles until 31 March 2018 and 31 October 2017 respectively.