Meet Lynn Robinson – the new BMC president

Posted by Peter Burnside on 12/07/2018
Lynn Robinson relaxing on the side of El Cap in Yosemite, USA.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Lynn might be one of the BMC’s volunteers with the broadest of contributions: from BMC guidebooks to its women’s recruitment drive, from heading the BMC’s volunteering strategy to being elected to a vice president role, now Lynn has achieved what no other woman has before, by becoming the BMC president. Let’s meet this amazing, selfless person!

First off, we’d like to say massive congratulations to you Lynn! What does being elected as the BMC president mean to you?
I’m really grateful for all those who voted for me. Although, standing as a candidate just seemed like a natural progression of my BMC volunteering journey, I know it will be a lot of hard work. I just want to stay true to my word and represent the wide BMC structures and membership and hold the Board to account on that.

How does it feel to become the first female BMC president?
It’s a pretty significant year for me: celebrating 100-years since women were given the vote, the 70th birthday of the NHS, and now the first female president in the BMC since it was founded 74 years ago. Also, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that Amanda Parshall is the BMC’s first female Independent Director. I think we will make important role models and it’s obviously a real positive for increasing diversity, something which is crucial for enriching the debate. Of course we both deserved our positions on our own merits with our wide skills and experience, but if we can inspire other able women to get involved in volunteering for the BMC, then that’s a big bonus.

I feel privileged to have seen some pretty amazing female role models in this organisation. VPs, ambassadors and award winners; Angela, Mina, Emma, Shauna, Molly, Hazel, Fran, Mary-Ann, Gwen, Kamala, Nina … the wider list could just go on and on. I’ve just watched Mina’s TEDx video – an inspirational must for anyone – so I’m in really good company. I will never climb as hard as the top climbers, but I have pushed my own limits, climbing and walking, and if I can be a different sort of role model – getting people to think about volunteering with the BMC, the skills and experience they can contribute to the committees, and encouraging others to challenge themselves like I have –that would be fantastic.

You’ve volunteered enormous amounts of your time to the BMC, why do you feel it’s important?
As I’ve said many times, climbing and hill walking have greatly enhanced my life, both mentally and physically. It’s great meeting and spending time with like-minded people who share the same passion as yourself. I know not everyone can or wants to volunteer, but I have been (and still am!) in the fortunate position that I can. I really don’t think access to our beautiful countryside and the other great work associated with the BMC should be taken for granted. The BMC staff and hundreds of access volunteers work tirelessly to ensure access and other issues are dealt with constructively and that we and our environment don’t lose out.

How do you think your role as president will differ to past presidencies?
Well I will be the first president in this new role since the split of president and chair of the Board, so that in itself is a massive difference. I will be able to focus more on representing the members.

There are other aspects in which my role will differ. The membership of the BMC is growing. Hill walking is now an important strand and ensuring their needs are represented is important to me. With climbing being an Olympic sport in 2020, the spot light will be well and truly on competition climbing. Social media is expanding (to find out what I’m up to follow me @bmc_lynn on twitter and Instagram!), and the use of proxy electronic voting at the AGM this year was, for me, a welcome move forward. I hope to help the organisation modernise without losing the strengths of the organisational history and mountaineering ethics.

What’s the first thing you’ll do as president?
Thank the BMC staff and key volunteers and those of our trusts, affiliated clubs and partner organisations. It hasn’t been an easy few years for them, but they have continued to work incredibly hard in a professional manner, ensuring mutual support. Also thank all the members who voted for Option A (and for me!) – so THANK YOU!

We had a Board meeting the morning after the AGM, which was positive and productive. One of my first roles will be to be involved in recruited to the position of Chair of the Board. If people are interested, then please watch out for the advert on the BMC website.

Looking forward, I think National Council and the Board have been given a decisive mandate to get on and implement Phase 2 of the ORG recommendations – that is what I will use to guide and steer me. I am very keen that we use the best technology and methods available to engage and consult with our members, clubs, trusts and partners.

How will the BMC futureproof itself?
Maintain and develop strong working relationships with partnership organisations, invest time in supporting clubs to develop, listen to the membership, develop a Volunteering Strategy to recruit, retain and reward volunteers, look after the rich heritage of British mountaineering. I think leading on campaigns such as Mend our Mountains is critical, in showing people that the BMC really cares for its mountains for future generations to continue to enjoy.

How do you see the BMC changing?
Expanding in relation to all aspects of the work of the BMC. As I have already mentioned, there could potentially be an explosion in indoor climbing after 2020, so the BMC needs to be ready for this and have plans in place on how indoor climbers can be represented and if they want, be supported to transition onto the crags, safely and responsibly. We already have concerns being expressed about participation but I believe although we can’t stop that happening, we can influence its direction and minimise negative outcomes.

Do you expect your climbing grade to go up or down over the next three years?
Up – hopefully. Helped by inspirational achievements by the likes of Steve McClure and Angela Soper. I’ve also been injured so am currently a good bit off my past peak. I am really looking forward to visiting all BMC areas to meet with members and enjoy our wonderful mountains and crags.


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