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A second open letter to the members of British Canoeing

John Coyle1

It has been a very busy period since my first open letter to members. Thank you for your engagement and your input. I have tried to respond to that correspondence and a considered response from your board is below.

My open letter was on behalf of your board. With the powers delegated by the members your board endeavours to form the best judgements, to fulfil its responsibilities to take the sport forward and meet the needs of its members and its multiple stakeholders.

It is clear from the correspondence, posts on constituent websites and traffic on social media that a significant part of the membership do NOT want to move from one vote per member in the election of a President. However positively the board was motivated to open up the nominations process within the sport through a peer led mechanism, the sanctity of the member vote has come through strongly. Your board respects this.

It is clear that we have many worthy, able and committed people within our sport who deserve and who would value the opportunity to be our ambassador as President and make an effective contribution to our future success.

It is evident that Albert Woods enjoys appreciation from the community for his service over 25 years as President and merits recognition for that role.

It is also clear that our strategic plan sets out an appropriate direction of travel and members are looking to see the benefits that will flow from it. A number want to see more member benefits and more ways to become a member. Many would like to see more recognition and profile for the sport.

On the AGM motion there is clear acknowledgement that athlete welfare is of vital importance to the sport in common with the attention highlighted nationally across all sports. The board already has this item on the agenda of their next meeting for Sunday 26th March.

Your board proposes to respond in the following way:

We shall withdraw the proposal for a nomination committee to propose an Honorary President in the manner originally outlined. This means that a presidential election will go ahead within the AGM under the provisions of our current articles.

We shall proceed with the proposal to create a Life President and nominate Albert Woods as our Life President. If approved this will help ensure that Albert not only remains influential in carrying out his duties as a member of the executive committee of the ICF and as President of the ECA but also stays connected to the work of British Canoeing.

Albert would then withdraw his nomination for the position of President of British Canoeing.      

We shall proceed with other changes to the articles which are predominantly ‘tidying up’ matters or changes necessary to ensure we move appropriately towards our governance compliance targets for Sport England and UK Sport. Not to do so could ultimately jeopardise the significant funding we receive from them.

The board will support the proposal that it should take responsibility for the overview of athlete welfare and will consider the detail within the motion within a planned discussion at the board meeting on Sunday 26 March.

We shall incorporate comments through this exercise to inform our membership review and plans for enhanced member benefits and profile for the sport.

We shall proceed with energy on your behalf to promote all parts of the sport.

The important work of your board is to get on enthusiastically with the delivery of our exciting strategic plan to build our sport positively for the future. This we shall do – with you and for you.

Thank you again for your engagement. It is clear that the member voice is strong and your board has listened.

Professor John Coyne CBE

Chair, British Canoeing

Revised documents can be found below. 

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