BMC Monthly Bulletin November 2023: Olympic Qualification, Financial Insights & Access Round-Up

Posted by Gregg Cropper on 23/11/2023

Our November update looks at Great Britain’s second ever Olympic Sport Climbing qualifier, ongoing development within GB Climbing, a closer look at our financial performance year-to-date and our access round-up.

The BMC monthly update will continue to add to the wealth of information provided in our regular members-newsletter. They offer an opportunity to delve deeper into our programmes and activities undertaken on behalf of our community. These updates are integral to refining current operations and shaping future plans.

MEMBERS OPEN FORUM - WEBINAR

As part of our ongoing commitment in creating new opportunities for members to keep up to date with BMC news and activities our first Members Open Forum webinar will take place on Wednesday 13 December 2023 from 18:30-20:00. This webinar presents an opportunity to engage in a Q&A session with BMC President, Andy Syme, and Chair of the Board, Roger Murray.

To register for the Members Open Forum please click here.

Upon regstering you will be asked to enter:

  • First name
  • Surname
  • Email address
  • Membership Number

If you wish to submit questions in advance, please email events@thebmc.co.uk.The deadline for submitting questions is midnight on Monday 11 December. We strongly encourage submitting any questions you may have beforehand. This allows us to provide you with the most up-to-date information and helps us adhere to our schedule. Live Q&A will commence once all pre-submitted questions are addressed.

 

GB CLIMBING

TOBY ROBERTS QUALIFIES FOR PARIS 2024

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Team GB (@teamgb)

 

GB Climbing’s Toby Roberts rounded off a formidable season with a victory at the 2023 European Boulder and Lead Olympic Qualifier event.

This historic victory sees 18-years-old Roberts secure the first male Olympic quota place in Sport Climbing for Great Britain. Roberts will be the second GB athlete to compete in the climbing competition at the Olympics following Shauna Coxsey who placed 10th at Tokyo 2020.

Lorraine Brown, Head of Performance at GB Climbing, said: “Toby is a formidable talent and has rightly earned his Olympic quota spot after some fantastic performances over the 2023 season.

“He has already shown the skills to reach the podium on the world stage, and his gold medal today comes off the back of two World Cup series wins during the 2023 season.

Click here for more information

Watch the moment back


CCPG LISTENING SESSIONS

Over the past year, the Competition Climbing Performance Group (CCPG) has navigated challenging situations, which has seen them going beyond typical volunteer duties related to the oversight of GB Climbing (GBC).

Recognising the need for a deeper understanding, the CCPG members conducted 'listening sessions', engaging with key stakeholders as part of their role to check, challenge, champion and support the work of GBC. The CCPG were clear that the listening sessions were not aimed at public reporting but at understanding the concerns and opportunities in the summer competition climbing space.  They are now feeding back to all relevant staff and climbers.  They will provide a short overview to members on the themes once this work is completed.

Key recommendations to the Board were the refocusing and clear communication of a “Climber First” approach, including clarification of roles; improving communication and cooperation (with climbers, their personal coaches and Partners); implementing an athlete management system; and prioritising international training camps and other 'value add' activates that GBC can best deliver.  This has been agreed in principle by the Board, and GBC are working on providing a clearly documented delivery plan, matching the resources available and with oversight by CCPG, to implement the recommendations.  The first step being that the recommendations have already been worked into our initial Los Angeles 2028 Olympics (LA28) performance strategy and UKS LA28 cycle Investment submission.

The Board and CCPG recognise that significant work lays ahead of us as we evolve GBC as our performance department, and will prioritise transparent communication, rebuilding trust as we establish a world-class performance program.  Despite the challenges highlighted through this process, the CCPG remains optimistic on the future of competition climbing, including summer sport climbing, para, ice and ski-mo racing, within the BMC; drawing from universal positive feedback on operational coaching staff and a shared vision for an improved culture.

 

GB CLIMBING SKIMO RACING

With Ski Mountaineering Racing (SkiMo Racing) being included in the 2026 Olympic Games (Milano-Cortina) for the first time in recent history, as the sport’s National Governing Body, we have launched an expressions of interest for potential athletes for the GB Climbing Team qualification journey to the Olympic Games as well as other European or World stage races.

Click here for more information

 

BMC 2023 Financial Update

BMC 2023 Financial Update

2023 has, as for many organisations particularly in the outdoor community, been a challenging one for the BMC, coming through a period of economic uncertainty, resetting from the impacts of the pandemic and continuing our longer-term significant period of organisational change with the growth of sport (competition) climbing and our role as a National Governing Body. Throughout this period, we have also made significant changes within the finance function in the BMC including the introduction of a new accounting system.

Year-end target position:

The BMC had targeted a budget deficit of £72k in 2023. This plan included some ambitious membership growth targets with pre-set ‘course corrections’ planned if these growth targets were not being met.  It became clear at the end of Quarter 1 that we needed to trigger the ‘course correction’ process.  This took time to work through, these were agreed and implemented by July, with some additional planned activity removed and a small staff restructure.

Travel Insurance income reduction:

In July we also had to react to challenges with our travel insurance offer where, following compliance reviews of our delivery model, administration changes were required from our long-term underwriter. This resulted in a period of 4 weeks where we had to make updates to our travel insurance administration and were unable to offer our travel insurance policies to members.

While we worked hard to quickly address the issues and bring the scheme back on line, this occurred during one of the busiest months of the year and as a consequence we lost out on circa £45k of budgeted income. This period of uncertainty was a stark reminder of the value our members place in our market-leading travel insurance product; far from being a commodity it is a valued gateway to the world of adventure for our members.

As a consequence of limitations placed on us by our incumbent underwriter there are still some issues with more niche cover requirements (particularly expeditions over 4000m) and we are in the process of migrating our underwriter partner which will be implemented at the start of December with a wider policy coverage.

Income profiling error 2023:

As part of the routine financial reviews done in August a budgeting error was found which had overstated our grant income to GB Climbing (GBC) in 2023 by circa £200k. Consequently, we have incurred an overspend of the BMC contribution of circa £150k within the GB Climbing department across funded and non-funded activities.

The Finance and Audit Committee (FAC) have investigated the causes and impact of the error, and the key conclusions were: 

This was a genuine error and the overstated grant income number went into the GBC budget. 

The error was undiscovered because there were no specific checks by the staff, the FAC, CCPG or the Board to identify a grant income forecasting error of this type.  

The UK Sport (UKS) funding model is very complex and the knowledge of the funding system was not sufficiently widespread amongst staff and volunteers to enable them to identify the error in the budget.

The new accounting system had not been appropriately applied in GBC so not all budgets were being appropriately managed. We are still working through the impact of this with UKS due to the complex funding model with some ring-fenced income.

Impact on BMC deficit

As a result of the above points, the planned year-end deficit of £72k will increase by the overspend within the GB Climbing department, plus the insurance scheme projected income loss and some other smaller variances. Noting we still have two months remaining in the financial year the current projection will be a year-end deficit of circa £250-300k (£178-228k over budget), which is manageable within our reserves but will impact future budget planning.

As a result of the 2023 year-end deficit our long-term budget planning will be discussed and reviewed by the Board to decide on the 2024 budget after consultation with the Finance and Audit Committee.

GBC budget in 2024 and beyond

GBC is a department of the BMC with mixed funding, comprising grant funding from UKS and Sport England (SE), and direct BMC costs. To access UKS grant funding the BMC is required to contribute some funds to UKS programme of activities. The GBC department is also responsible for delivering non-funded activities across our domestic competitions and non-funded other discipline support (Para Climbing, Ice Climbing, Ski-Mo etc). 

Domestic competitions comprise of our programme of grassroots competitions such as the Youth Climbing Series and our National Championships across multiple disciplines.

Expenditure within GBC department activities in 2024 will be clearly broken down by our funded activities and our non-funded activities (Domestic Competitions and other disciplines), and will require significant cost control and a net reduction in BMC funded expenditure versus 2023.  We are committed to developing our domestic competition infrastructure but must ensure we are doing this in a sustainable way, supporting participation in indoor climbing for the grassroots. We are working through this as we build the budget for 2024 and will be providing further updates on our plans for 2024 in December.

 

ACCESS ROUNDUP

Southern Quarry rockfall

Following very heavy rain during storm Babet a significant rockfall took place at the Southern or Cioch quarry at Burbage South. The BMC is liaising with the Eastern Moors Partnership in relation to any temporary closures which may be required, as well as organising volunteer work to clear some remaining loose blocks, and generally tidy up the aftermath.

Masson Lees Quarry shooting

Following up on recent reports of a clay pigeon shooting event being held at the crag on a Sunday the BMC are in discussions with the landowner via their agent. These discussions are aimed are ensuring climbers and other users have prior notice as to when shooting will be taking place, as well as clarifying the general access status of the crag, which has always been somewhat opaque. Interim shooting dates have been listed on the RAD.

Portland Waste Incinerator

Plans to build a waste incinerator on Portland Bill are being aggressively pushed by the company Powerfuel in the face of repeat planning refusal by Dorset Council and strong local opposition. This development would impose a huge additional traffic burden on this already busy location, ruin views, and generate air pollution affecting residents and visitors alike. Local climbers are supporting the Stop Portland Waste Incinerator campaign and the BMC will be raising national awareness of this issue which would affect climbers from all over the country who enjoy this excellent climbing area.

Birchen group use

After meeting with Eastern Moor Partnership, updates to group use guidance will be made on the RAD. The request from EMP that the organiser of groups of over fifteen get in touch prior to a visit is aimed at ensuring the group as well as other users have a worthwhile experience on the day and is not intended to prevent group use. In large part this is necessary because of the very limited parking available at this crag, especially problematic on busy weekends.

Symonds Yat rockfall 

Further to last month’s report on this, talks are now ongoing with Forestry England regarding climbing access to nearby Coldwell Rocks.

Julio Sanchez who lead the local access volunteers in the area has been in close liaison with landowners in attempts to get at least limited climbing reopened as soon as possible – more to follow soon hopefully.

Maeshafn Clear Up

Earlier in November a team of volunteers lead by Sophie Nunn the BMC North East Wales Access volunteer ran a day of cleaning the crag at Maeshafn. Like many of the North East Wales limestone crags cotoneaster is taking over many of the crags, and is difficult to cut away. A fantastic team from a mixture of Clwyd and Cheshire Mountaineering club as well as a few other all came to lend a hand clearing the crag. As well as removing invasive cotoneaster some gorse was removed to make the tops outs more accessible.

At Maeshafn we have an excellent relationship with the landowner and he was happy to see us doing the work, in many places this is a great way to thank landowners for allowing us to climb on their land as cotoneaster not only gets in the way of climbers, damages the rock, but can also be hazardous to livestock.

If you know your local crag is looking overgrown, contact your local BMC access volunteers to assist with organising such a day.  

Right to Roam

We are campaigning hard on the right to roam in Wales – Eben attended a talk with the other BMC (Black Mountain College) in Talgarth last week to speak to students there about why we’re campaigning for a Scottish-style model here in Wales rather than simply an extension of CRoW. Insightful questions and lots of enthusiasm took place. 

A film which was shot in the Bannau Brycheiniog aimed at encouraging the outdoor recreation community to join us in campaigning for Right to Roam was shown at BMC Breakfast club – a Welsh language version will join that film on BMC TV in the next few weeks.


Winter Monitoring

Robbie Blackhall-Miles, the Vascular Plants Officer for Wales at the wild plant and fungi conservation charity Plant Life, sat down with Tom Carrick, the BMC’s Welsh Access Officer, to discuss the significance of the BMC Winter Monitoring System.

In the discussion, he sheds light on the critical conservation efforts aimed at protecting nearly 70 different species across Wales, particularly focusing on the rare Arctic Alpine plants in Snowdonia.

Click here to read more about the winter monitoring programme

SIRHOWY CRAG FUNDRAISER

“We are well on our way towards our stretch goal which is utterly insane! Thank you to everyone who has contributed. To be able to bring this absolute gem of a crag under the management of those who appreciate it most (us at the BMC!) would be a fantastic thing. Ensuring continued access to lowland crags like this is so important.” BMC Policy & Campaigns Officer (Wales) Eben Muse

Click here to support the cause

 

YHA FESTIVAL OF WALKING A GREAT SUCCESS

Thank you to everyone who took part in the second YHA Festival of Walking including BMC partner Cotswold Outdoor, the Ramblers and OS maps. Over 600 people in total took part in 36 guided walks over the 6-week event this autumn and an impressive 75% of hikers strongly agreed that the walk had had a positive effect on their mental health. 

“In particular, a huge shout-out to the BMC volunteer walk leaders who assisted on the group walks and were widely praised by visitors,” said Andrew McCloy, YHA Walks Programme Manager and festival coordinator. 

“We look forward to welcoming everyone back next year.”

Thanks to BMC Partner Cotswold Outdoor for providing waterproof jackets to all our volunteer walk leaders. Remember to use your BMC membership 15% discount online and in store.

Watch the video online

 

READ WINTER SUMMIT TODAY

Summit’s new Editor Claire Maxted, formerly of Trail magazine and co-founder and editor of Trail Running magazine has been at the editorial helm for her first edition - #112, which should have arrived on members doorsteps and is also available digitally

Claire is very keen to hear from you, our members - so please do email photos of what you’ve been up to and add the hashtag #BMCAdventures on social media so we can find your images and videos online. The best will appear in future issues of Summit and one lucky member will win a prize each issue.

If you’ve got a great story you think might be summit-worthy, Claire would love to hear from you on summit@thebmc.co.uk

 

SPORTS GOVERNANCE ACADEMY EVENT

It was a pleasure to spend time earlier this month with Sports Governance Academy at the Fit for Future Conference 2023. Three BMC delegates attended the sessions where a wide range of topics were discussed.

The importance of governance and culture for creating a safe environment, encouraging people to speak up when things aren’t right, and placing inclusion at the very heart of what sports organisations work to achieve. It’s a familiar mantra, but one that should not be taken for granted: sport and the outdoors is for all.

Some of the highlights were:

Values & Culture

As part of a broad discussion to open the conference, the panel talked about definitions of organisational culture, the speed of change and the importance of courage as a leadership characteristic.

Bystander Intervention

The panel brought to life the concept of bystander intervention, an important part of creating a more equal world and establishing an environment where people can feel safe and included.

Sustainability

This section addressed not only the largest organisations, but also sought to set out some practical steps which apply to local or smaller sports organisations

Creating a culture of safeguarding and wellbeing.

The conversational session covered protecting yourself and others, going beyond policies and procedures to values and standards. Of course, safeguarding is not just about protecting children – but also adults.

Safeguarding can often involve unpicking a degree of disbelief, because people often feel that someone they know simply ‘can’t be a bad person’. A part of this is the importance of creating frameworks for speaking up, and educating people so that they are able to respond. Liza Ware from the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit, emphasised that organisations have to look after and support those people who are looking after other people and handling those safeguarding issues.

 

RECRUITMENT UPDATE

Following recent active recruitment for a number of roles we have had some excellent applicants looking to join the BMC family. This includes our Governance and Compliance Manager and CEO. Interviews are taking place and appointments made public shortly.

Current open roles include Chair of our safeguarding committee and vacant roles at the BMC and other related organisations can be found here.

We welcome Joanna Coates as external consultant support. We are at quite a critical period with regards to the GBC programme and team, in the final build-up to Paris 2024, continuing the planning and submission process for the LA 2028 Olympic Games UK Sport funding cycle. Jo will be supporting the GBC team in the delivery of these areas until our new CEO is in the role and help manage the ongoing change process as a result of external consultation with stakeholders. We look forward to working with Jo over the next few months.

 

KENDAL

The BMC’s presence was strong as ever at Kendal Mountain Festival this year. We hosted the sold-out Award ceremony for the winners of the ninth BMC Women in Adventure film competition and spoke to the filmmakers involved, with BMC Ambassador Molly Thompson-Smith and active BMC volunteer Em Lyons presenting.

Niall Grimes returned to host another sold-out Breakfast Club which was filled with laughs and tears. Volunteer organisers, Bethan McCarroll and AJ Guardiola, came on stage to share the love for their BMC festivals, Gower and ClimbOut. Then the stars of Adra - this year’s award-winning love letter to North Wales film - Lewis Perrin and Zoe Wood - talked us through the film with Director Emma Crome. There were film snippets from ‘Adra’ and Steve McClure’s 1000th 8a project, as well as the premiere of the BMC’s rally-around-us film ‘Access Land’. GB Athletes Molly Thompson-Smith and Jim Pope as well as the internet’s favourite coach - Louis Parkinson - shared their highs and lows of the year (and even sung us a song!)

We had BMC Access representation up on the Basecamp stages with our Right To Roam discussion panel presented by BMC Ambassador and Campaigner Mary-Ann Ochota who was joined by Duncan Peake from Raby Estates, Emily Williams from Every Body Outdoors and Eben Muse our BMC Cymru Policy & Campaigns Officer, all discussing whether the scottish model for the right to roam is viable in England & Wales in the future. During the BMC’s second talk, we invited Head of Policy for Bannau Brycheiniog Helen Lacocq to chat with us about the push for the return of Welsh place names and its importance.

The BMC ran a free hike on Sunday alongside Mountain Training and Komoot, providing festival-goers a chance to experience the hills away from the festival and have a chat about the organisations. 

Our BMC stand showcased amazing breadth and depth of the work of our volunteers and it served as a hub for members to chat about what the BMC offers and for new members to sign up.

BMC steps up against bullying

It’s recently been Anti-Bullying Week and TeamBMC donned their best odd socks to show their #antibullyingalliance

We are dedicated to ensuring that any activity or event is safe, free from harm and abuse, and enjoyable for all participants.

Concerns within the community can be made through our simple online reporting system.

STAFF AWAY DAY

The staff team took some time to bond and get to know some new faces in an informal and fun setting recently, we have various backgrounds and experience and spending time together and getting to see aspects of our organisation activity on the ground is key to collaboration and innovation.

We took time to reflect on the year, what we’re proud of and looked ahead discussing lots of exciting plans for the future.

It was also a chance to get out in the hills to see first hand, some of the restoration work we’ve supported in the Peak District through our Mend Our Mountains campaign fundraising. 

 

SPORT ENGLAND CONFERENCE

Recently Cressida Allwood and Jon Garside from our Sports Development team attended the first-ever Uniting the Movement event delivered by Sport England.

The event provided a platform to learn and understand different ways of working, build connections and network between sporting bodies, all to help meet our aims.

It’s safe to say the team had a brilliant time, and look forward to more collaborative opportunities of sharing and working. 

 

YCS FINALS

The Youth Climbing Series Grand Final 2023 is upon us, being held at Parthian, Southampton

The top three competitors from each category, in each region, will be eligible to compete at the Grand Final. The top twenty-four climbers from each region across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland will compete to be crowned champion.

Click here to find out more



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