Update from BMC Board: 11 August

Posted by Peter Burnside on 11/08/2020
Stepping stones at Dovedale in the Peak District. Photo: Shutterstock

The BMC Board updates its members on what the BMC has been up to as of 11 August 2020.

COVID-19 has brought disruption and change for organisations and individuals, and the BMC is no exception. Throughout this challenging time, we have focussed on supporting our members and the wider outdoor community. We know that lockdown has had an impact on the finances and wellbeing of many people that we represent.

With government guidance frequently changing and differing between the devolved nations, keeping our members informed and ensuring their views and concerns on access issues were fully represented has been a top priority. We have worked closely with our partner organisations to ensure a joined-up approach, and now the links with our partners are the strongest that they have ever been.

Staff and volunteers, together with the Board and National Council, have worked hard to keep all areas of the BMC running and to ensure that BMC emerges as a robust organisation from the crisis. We have responded to the crisis with weekly access updates, expert Facebook Lives, engaging social media and a new range of crag access films. This has worked: thanks to the support of our members, we are now 80,000 strong. 

However, this is a challenging time and it is perhaps unsurprising that strains and stresses have developed, and there are several developments which we need to report to members and partners.

  • The current BMC chair, Gareth Pierce, has recently indicated to the Board that he will not be seeking a second term from 2021 onwards and the Board has considered it best to commence the recruitment process for the next Chair.
  • One Council Nominated Director, Jon Punshon, has decided to step down because of issues that arose from specific matters he had been involved with.
  • Two independent directors, Matthew Bradbury and Amanda Parshall, made the decision to step down in the context of concerns about some behaviours within the Board. 

The Board is taking steps to review the issues that have led to these resignations, including addressing its internal ways of working to ensure it is operating and communicating as efficiently and effectively as it could be and strengthening the way it interfaces with staff, committees, volunteers and members.

The Board has met with National Council, who understandably showed concern and sought assurances from directors. The plans put forward by the Board were subsequently supported by National Council as the basis for providing positive outcomes. The Board is also considering how to make best use of additional support that has been offered by National Council. At an appropriate time, after requirements have become clearer, National Council will run its process for appointing a new Council Nominated Director.

Moving forward, the Board has made arrangements for its Nominations Committee to meet immediately to progress arrangements for filling the vacant positions. In the meantime, the Board is in the process of inviting three advisors to attend Board meetings and provide facilitation and support during this period of time until the new directors are appointed and in place. 

The Board is also ensuring that appropriate capacity is in place to progress a number of important matters, including the update to the strategic, business and financial plans for 2021 onwards. Whilst carrying out the forward planning, it provides an opportunity to take stock of the changes that have occurred in the environment in which we operate and allows us to build upon the opportunities that have become available, strengthening our role within the sector.

We recognise that the past months, along with recent Board changes, have been challenging for the BMC staff, who have been working hard to keep the BMC services running. The Board have been listening to the staff and providing additional support where required.

To provide further support to the CEO and to the BMC office, the Board advertised for a short-term Interim Executive to fulfil a brief that includes steering the organisation’s strategic and business plan, connecting the plan to the Senior Management Team’s objectives and undertaking some line management responsibilities. The recruitment of a new post, Head of Operations and Development will also begin shortly.

Gareth Pierce, Chair of BMC Board of Directors said: “The BMC Board appreciates the contributions that staff and volunteers have made over a challenging period of time that extends from the start of the COVID-19 situation. We look forward to continuing to work to deliver the BMC's objectives. And, most importantly, we want to thank all our members for their continued support of the BMC through this challenging time.”


As the climbing walls, crags and mountains start to open, we wanted to say thanks to every BMC member who supported us through the Coronavirus crisis.

From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t have made it without you.

If you liked what we did, then tell your friends about us: www.thebmc.co.uk/join


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