A message to the British Dressage community from Jason Brautigam, BD CEO
- Written By:
All British Dressage members have been emailed this evening with an update on the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic detailing our status, plans and news of an FAQ document to help stakeholders through these uncertain times.
These are unprecedented times we find ourselves in. The coronavirus pandemic will impact on all of us in so many ways; it is actually quite difficult to comprehend at this stage the long term implications this will have for society as a whole, let alone our sport.
While it is of course incredibly disappointing for everyone to have to suspend all dressage competitions, events and training activity for the foreseeable future, our primary concern has to be to the health and well-being of all of the sport’s participants, whether riders, trainers, owners, officials, organisers or supporters.
We all have a role to play in helping to assist in the containment and control of the virus, so we appreciate the understanding and support we have received from members this week after taking the difficult decision to shut down the sport for a four week period, until 16 April at the earliest.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the work and action gone into implementing the suspension and those who are already acting on the government advice on social distancing and non-essential travel. We know that many of you will have concerns about how this will impact on your livelihoods and businesses, let alone the sport itself, which puts everything into perspective at this challenging time.
Following the government advice earlier this week, the decision was taken to close the office from this evening – and as of Monday 23 March most employees will be working from home. There will be a skeleton staff at BDHQ Meriden in the short term to deal with post, shop orders, accessing documents, printing, filing and any other activities which can only be done in the office, but everything else will be managed remotely, using the technologies available.
Fortunately we have invested a significant amount in our IT over the past three years, so our new BD Online portal allows us to have remote access to our sport operations and membership systems. We are also connected through cloud based networks, file sharing and communication applications, while our telephony system is also a digital platform and can operate remotely. So, it will be ‘business as usual’ throughout the shutdown period and you will still be able to contact us by email and phone as normal.
Our teams will be working closely with their technical committees and regional representatives over coming weeks to ensure that we can hit the ground running when the sport is able to resume. We will look to reschedule any cancelled or postponed activities for later in the year; however, due to the ongoing uncertainty about how long any shutdown period is likely to last it is impossible to predict when these may be at present.
Quite what the remainder of the dressage calendar will look like, how the qualifications will work, what changes will need to be made to selection procedures, and so on, remains to be seen, but we will be working hard in the background on contingency plans, based on various different scenarios, so we’re in a strong position as soon as we get the green light.
During this time we will be continuing to work on a number of important projects, including our new judge education system, youth development pathways and online learning platforms for CPD and training activity, to ensure your sport is in great shape to come back to.
I’m sure you all have plenty of questions about how this is all going to affect you, so we’ve put together a fairly extensive document to give you as many answers as possible. With so much uncertainty over the timeframe for a return to normality, we certainly don’t have a solution for everything just yet. We’ll keep updating this document on the website as the situation evolves and are able to provide further information.
Please do stay in touch and let us know if you have any questions or feedback. You can continue to contact any of the team by email or phone.
We’ve set up a coronavirus hub on the website homepage with all our statements and key links for advice.
The most important consideration at this point in time is that you and your family come first. Please make sure to follow the latest government advice, remain active where you can and look after your physical and mental health. Stay positive and focus on your own well-being, as well as your loved ones, while we look after the sport and ensure it remains fit for the future.
We’ll keep information flowing via our digital channels and do our best to keep you up to date on any developments. In the meantime, please stay safe everyone.
CEO, British Dressage