Membership figures for British Eventing have surpassed 15,000 for the first time in the organisation’s history, as it seeks to launch new initiatives to increase the number of people participating in the sport.
Since joining British Eventing as Chief Executive in May this year, David Holmes has worked closely with Chairman Paul Hodgson, the Board ,the Committees, the Executive and BE stakeholders in order to implement a number of key developments which have been key to the organisations success.
The increase in membership is as a result of the rise in competitor numbers taking part in grassroots competitions, as well as the introduction of alternative ways of participating in affiliated competitions.
In his end of season comment, David said: “For the first time in BE’s history we have topped the 15,000 Member mark, which is largely due to increased participation levels at BE80, BE90 and BE100 level and the great success of the day passes as a way of increasing the accessibility of the sport. The new Owners categories and relaunched Supporter Membership have also proved extremely successful and enabled more people to be involved with the sport they love even if they are not competing.
David also believes new competitions introduced to the British Eventing calendar will increase in popularity, saying: “The Kent & Masters Arena Eventing Championships and TopSpec Corinthian Cup have been a great success. A huge thank you goes to the Organisers of Gatcombe Park, Blenheim Palace and Blair Castle for working with us to make these new offerings a great success. These initiatives will inevitably grow in popularity in the future, similar to the very popular Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton.”
British Eventing has also seen a growing demand for rider training initiatives resulting in a new programme for 1* riders being introduced next year. David added: “Our popular Mark Todd Bridging the Gap Training series goes from strength to strength and from this a new training series for 1* riders was successfully piloted this year and will be rolled out in 2016 along with a pilot series of training courses enabling riders to step up to Novice level. We also doubled the number of young horse training courses in 2015 and will increase these again for 2016.”
Training is not just for riders with volunteers also benefiting from support offered by British Eventing. David comments: “Through our new BE Charitable Foundation we have been successful in a number of funding bids for Volunteer training, taster days for new Members and follow-on rider training sessions to help introduce new riders into the sport. We continue to make funding bids and look forward to being able to provide additional opportunities to our stakeholders in 2016. We continue to review our support for the army of volunteers who are critically important for the sport. We will be undertaking Fence Judge training again in the New Year and working together with our Organisers to ensure that there is a well-trained and recognised pool of volunteers who are available to support our sport. BE will continue to look at ways in which we can recruit more volunteers and at ways of rewarding and recognising their immense contribution to the sport.”
Looking ahead to next year a new Event Standard will be used at all events on the calendar and further work will be done over the winter months which look at event organisation. David continued: “Our usual round of end of season wash-up meetings with all our officials take place in November plus we hold an Officials Conference in February. The aim of these important sessions is to learn what we can from the 2015 season and look at what we need to change for 2016 in order to ensure that our all-important Officials are supported in the best way possible in performing their critical roles. We have seen new Event Standard documents being piloted which will be used at all BE events in 2016. We worked closely with the BEOA and our Officials in carrying out this work. These documents provide an excellent tool not only to Organisers but also to the Officials who are working on event. We have much work to do in the coming months on a number of projects looking at event sustainability, entry fees, prize money as well as reviewing our current competition and championships structure.”
British Eventing is also working with Jan and Stuart Buntine an Organisers Workshop at Wolverhampton Racecourse, a new initiative which will be held in January.
David finished his end of season comment by thanking British Eventing’s sponsors, saying: “Of course we are incredibly grateful to all our sponsors and during the winter we will be looking at ways of enhancing the service that we can offer them. This work is vitally important if we are to be able to develop the sport for the future.”