Coronavirus: a statement from the BMC President, Chair & CEO

Posted by Emma Travers on 17/03/2020

The BMC remains fully operational and will do its utmost to support the best interests of climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers, and our friends in the outdoor industry and climbing walls sector through this exceptionally difficult period.

Over the past month, the BMC has spent considerable time coming to grips with the impact and implications of Coronavirus. The situation has been changing daily and the only certainty at present is that nothing is certain. Our focus so far has been in the following main areas:

Travel insurance
Assisting members with an unprecedented volume of queries about changing overseas travel arrangements, FCO advice, cancellation issues and technical details related to policy wording. Read our latest travel insurance advice

Events
Our recent very successful Hill Walking event (Lake District, 14/15 March) could be the last BMC event for some time. All events – including the Youth Climbing Series – scheduled for March and April have been postponed or cancelled. Updates on events in May, June and beyond will be posted in this article when decisions are reached.

Clubs
A guidance note on club meets and club huts was published on the BMC website on 16 March with specialist input from Hon Medical Advisor Dr David Hillebrandt and colleagues from the British Mountain Medicine Society. It is important that subsequent government advice is taken on board alongside this article, including that related to avoiding unnecessary travel.

Staff, office and volunteer network
Non-essential internal and external meetings are being cancelled, postponed or held using remote dial in facilities; whilst more people than usual are working from home, we aim to retain a core staff presence in the office for as long as possible, but aligning with government advice on maintaining physical distances. 

External engagement
The BMC is also working closely with key partners including National Trust, Forestry England, Ordnance Survey, Natural England, the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) and Association of British Climbing Walls (ABC) who have concerns about the economic impact of recent government announcements.  BMC and ABC representatives attended the All Party Parliamentary Group for Mountaineering on 11 March to raise the concerns of the indoor climbing sector and we’re now working with the OIA and others on a joint letter to encourage the authorities and key landowners to recognise the continuing value of access to the countryside and outdoors.

Governance
Whilst having to adjust some arrangements because of the restrictions on people coming together, we are determined to sustain high quality governance across the organisation. Key meetings (National Council and the Board of Directors) are being held via webinar and conference call in March and April with suitably adjusted agendas. We’re also reviewing options for running the BMC AGM which is scheduled for 13 June at Plas y Brenin: as for many other organisations, we need to consider the legal requirements and timelines relating to aspects of the AGM. At the same time, member engagement with a range of AGM themes is a high priority and options under consideration include the potential use of livestreaming and online voting. Further updates will follow as we assess the options, which at this stage also include the possibility of deferring the AGM to a later date.

We wish all BMC members, partner organisations and stakeholders best wishes during this unprecedented and difficult time. We hope you, your family and friends stay safe. Let’s come together as a community to help and support each other. For our current advice on getting outdoors, see here.



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