BD Regional Review: in the heart of your community

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Thu, 18 Feb 2021 12:36

During the autumn of 2020, British Dressage (BD) conducted an extensive review of the regional structure, as well as the role and responsibilities of the Regional Development Officers (RDO). Activity in the regions continues to be a key part of the fabric of BD, but the overall structure has remained largely unchanged for over 20 years. The impact of COVID-19, combined with a need to reinvigorate our approach in the regions to aid the recovery period, provided the catalyst for reviewing our priorities for the sport over the next strategic cycle.

This review was undertaken by a Regional Working Group appointed by the Board and has involved a consultation process with a number of stakeholders, including the RDOs and Regional Chairs, to focus on developing a modern structure that will help us drive participation, membership and engagement across the United Kingdom.

The existing structure has served the organisation well, but the sport and business has grown, developed and changed considerably over the years, so we need to evolve accordingly. The working group was tasked to realign the regional structure and the role of the RDO in way that that would reflect BD’s strategic priorities, while also streamlining our operations in order to be more efficient and effective in the delivery of regional activity. Most importantly, the prime objective was to provide high levels of support across each region to both current and potential members and stakeholders.

The group’s findings and recommendations were presented to the Board in December, with further consultation on how these changes can best be implemented taking place over the last two months. BD announced the key details to members in the CEO quarterly update late last year and since then a great deal of work has gone into further development of the regional networks and the roles for our staff and volunteers in each region.

The main change is that the regions have been reduced from eight down to six. As devolved nations with their own distinct governance structures and funding bodies, Scotland and Wales will retain a dedicated member of staff to cover each region. England will have four regions with redefined boundaries, which have been modelled according to geography and travel networks, whilst trying to minimise the number of members impacted by the changes. In addition, consideration was also given to the number of BD affiliated venues and level of participation activity in each area.

England will now be made up of four regions – South & East, South & West, North & West and North & East. The new regional structure will be adopted as soon as competition activity is able to resume, once the current lockdown is over and restrictions have been removed.

The role of the RDO has also been revitalised with a more strategic approach. With a name change to Development Officer (DO), the role will continue to act as a ‘front line’ contact in the region, but will have a renewed focus on supporting the retention, reactivation and recruitment of members, promoting more engagement in dressage activity, and fostering strong relationships with our venues, officials and other key stakeholder groups.

The appointment of the Development Officers for all six regions were confirmed prior to Christmas, with five full time roles and a job share arrangement in the South & East region, in recognition of volume of members, geographical spread of the counties and travel time. The Development Officers and realigned regions are detailed here.

BD Chief Executive Jason Brautigam commented; “The regions are an essential part of our activity and I know how they instil a strong sense of loyalty and pride among BD members. They form the basis on which our sport has grown and evolved. This review was conducted with members’ best interests at heart, with recommendations based on a structure that would still deliver this sense of regional identity, while recognising the changing needs and priorities of the sport as a whole.

“Like all sports, BD faces a long road to recovery post-COVID. In order to return to pre-pandemic levels and continue to flourish we need a suitable regional framework to support and deliver our strategic objectives. The new structure and realigned roles will enable us to drive efficiencies, provide a more effective joined up approach between head office and the regions, and put us in an improved position to reinvigorate the sport through the recovery period and beyond.

“It is important to emphasise that our regional committees remain a vital cog in the new structure and the configuration of our network of volunteers is in the process of being finalised, with input from the Development Officers, Regional Chairs and our committee members. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience that we want to retain and build on, to ensure that we continue to fully support our members in all regions, whether they are riders, owners, organisers, coaches or officials.

“There has been a huge degree of enthusiasm and support for this new direction, so I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in embracing these changes so positively. This is certainly a chance for us to ‘build back better’, to use what is now a well-worn phrase, so a new regional structure, combined with our new five year strategy and fresh brand identity that we will launch when competition gets back underway, will provide us with a great opportunity to reinvigorate the sport.”