Chairpersons Update - An update on all SF activity from Chairperson George Liston

Chair’s Update

I have been asked for information about what the Board has been doing.  Whilst minutes of Board Meetings are published on the Scottish Fencing website, the following summary of recent activity may prove informative.

Scottish Fencing receives income from two principal sources:  our half share of subscriptions paid by you to British Fencing and our investment income from sportscotland.  As the latter is an investment, we are required to deliver agreed levels of performance under two headings, “Effective Organisation” and “Development”, in line with a published set of investment principles.  As an effective organisation, investment is available to embed good governance, alongside demonstrating mandatory compliance with legislation.  Additionally, under the heading of Development, increasing access to and participation in our sport are the general aims.

The Strategic Review with sportscotland took place on 19th September and was the culmination of much work.  Scottish Fencing was represented by myself and Vinny, our Chief Operating Officer:  we presented a summary of our Strategy for the period 2019 to 2026, also our related Request for Investment for the two years from 2019 to 2021.  We summarised progress made with our in-year Development Plan, introduced the Strategy’s four key objectives, explained their development and how they linked to one another.  Additionally, we explained the need and highlighted our plans for engaging more volunteers in a structured fashion, also for exploiting opportunities for development in particular areas, such as engaging with individuals displaying autism and with potential wheelchair fencers, leading to increased participation, a broader base and healthier membership numbers.  The need to align coaching capacity with demand was discussed, also the need to plan the development of referees.  The intent to deliver of a three-region structure, offering increased local opportunities for fencers, was stated as was the importance of events and the need to influence the events calendar to an increased extent, introducing events for groups not currently catered for and attempting to minimise calendar clashes.  Emphasis was placed on maintaining improvements across governance, with the KPMG Governance Audit and Safeguarding Toolkit Assessment featuring prominently, as did our commitment to sustain work towards improving our equality standard.  Overall, feedback was very positive and the submission was welcomed in a supportive atmosphere.

During October, a small team of volunteers delivered a successful Scottish Open for all weapons.  Currently, work continues to deliver our in-year development plan (keys include delivery of increased membership, publication of initial volunteer strategy, completion of a study to support wheelchair fencing in Scotland and commencement of engagement with Scottish Autism), also embedding improvements in governance, including continuing to help clubs to progress towards SwordMark accreditation.  Additionally, the introduction of the Competitions Advisory Group will provide a vehicle for closer working with eg F4SF and the organisers of the Scottish Schools’ Championships.

Meanwhile, you may well have been following the fortunes of our fencers who travelled to Australia for both the Commonwealth Senior and Veterans’ Fencing Championships.  I’m sure that you will join me in congratulating them and the Team officials on their successes Down Under.

Finally, remember that Scottish Fencing is an organisation that comprises its members.  So, when you ask “what is Scottish Fencing doing about this?”, look in the mirror and ask, “how can I help to improve this?”

As the end of 2018 draws nigh, I wish you and yours every success in 2019.