CEO Membership Column – September 2019

Andy Parkinson, CEO of British Rowing, discusses recent developments within the sport and looks ahead to the coming months

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After a very busy summer internationally and given the domestic head season is upon us, we wanted to ensure that you, as a member of British Rowing, get more regular updates in your inbox so you know what is going on at the national governing body (NGB). So, this will be one of many which I hope you find useful, informative and keeps you connected to the sport and British Rowing.

Around this time of year, the organisation is busy supporting our members as they return to their clubs after a summer break (for those of you who had one) and also the return of our national team as they come back to training after a well-earned break. We know that the Olympic and Paralympic Games provides a real focus for the sport, both in the media but also at a local level, and the staff at British Rowing have been working hard to put in place our plans for next summer, both on the water in Tokyo but also to help our clubs attract new people to rowing.

At the same time, both UK Sport and Sport England are in varying degrees of planning for the next investment round, and it is going to be essential that we, as a sport, demonstrate the social impact we have on the nation. I was at a breakfast event last week where the Chief Executive of Sport England, Tim Hollingsworth, provided an assessment of his role and his organisation after six months in position. It was interesting to hear Tim speak of the role NGBs play in sport and his reinforcement that ‘governing’ was, and should be, at the heart of NGB activities. Tim also expressed his view that doing more of the same will not significantly increase participation and engagement in sport, and that “sport is not the answer to getting more people active, getting people more active is the answer to getting people playing more sport.” Something that needs to inform our thinking around our future partnership with Sport England.

We know that our reliance on public investment is a risk and, as a result, we are currently involved in two specific initiatives with respect to membership. After revising our membership framework last year and implementing a central management system, ClubHub, we are now conducting some research around what our members want from us in the future. We are adopting a targeted approach to inform how we can best encourage more rowers to be members, and not just those that want to race.

Alongside this, we have recently soft launched a new membership category, our Friends of British Rowing membership. This category is targeting ex-rowers who loved their time in the sport (don’t all ex-rowers!) and who want to both have a connection with, and contribute to, the long-term future of rowing. We will follow up in due course with a co-ordinated marketing campaign but, in the meantime, do please promote this opportunity to those within your rowing networks to spread the word.

In September, we said goodbye to two Board members, Fiona McAnena (Senior Independent Director) and Andy Crawford (Chair of the Sport Committee). While they both officially remain in post until the AGM on 12 October, 17 September was their last meeting and a chance for me to thank them for their considerable input and contribution to the sport over the years. It should not be underestimated the value in having high quality Board members and never more so with so much churn at this level over the past few years (by way of illustration, I am now the third longest serving Board member of British Rowing!). We will be announcing the two replacements as each process concludes in due course. We are also publishing the minutes from each Board meeting, and here you can find the minutes from the July meeting. Please note that there will be a delay from the actual meeting to the minutes being published as the formality of approving the minutes takes place at the start of the next meeting. Hope that makes sense.

And lastly, for now, last week we opened entries for the Mizuno British Rowing Indoor Championships, which this year includes the introduction of new four and one minute events for each adaptive category. There’s also the addition of IR1 and IR3 (Invictus Rowing) categories, which will help make BRIC an even more inclusive event for Invictus and adaptive indoor rowers.

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