01/10/2020- Articles

2019-20 Annual Report Series – The CEO’s Report

BF continues a series of articles based on the full 2019-20 Annual Report with the CEO’s Report from Georgina Usher.

In the run up to the BF AGM on October 10th, we will be publishing a series of articles taken from the full 2019-20 Annual Report (found here). The first in the series was the Directors’ Report which included a summary of progress in key areas of work, accompanied by the diversity and governance statements, followed by the President’s report.

In this article, we look at the CEO report by Georgina Usher.

CEO’s Report

Up until the impact of Covid-19, 2019-20 represented a year of ‘business as usual’ activity and delivery for the BF executive team, as would be expected for the third year in a funding cycle.

Since March 2019, there were no changes to the size of the executive team consisting of a total of 19 members of which 10 work part time. The executive team continue to be supported by an extended team of hardworking volunteers who serve on various BF workgroups and committees and we remain as ever extremely grateful to them.

We have continued to meet the aims, objectives and targets set out by our funding bodies through the delivery of our projects and programmes and are grateful for their support and that of the National Lottery in the work that we do.

Ending the year in lockdown as we did, we recognise more than ever the wider impact of fencing, the work that we do and the opportunities that exist to play a part in positively impacting people’s lives.

Throughout the year the UK Sport Aspiration Fund provided financial support and subsidised opportunities to our athletes on the journey to Olympic qualification, whilst also delivering on a programme for these athletes to ‘give back’ and inspire others. This included opportunities for athletes to inspire others (both within and outside of the fencing community) with their involvement in social impact projects and mentoring activities with the True Athlete Project (TAP).

We are delighted with the progress of our work with the True Athlete Project (TAP), supporting athletes and coaches across the GBR pathway. Our work with TAP is supporting fencers and coaches to create the non-judgemental and safe space where there can be compassion, openness and ‘challenge’. Our belief is that we must do more to support the ‘whole person’ thus enabling them to reach the next level of competitive advantage in performance sport.

This year we have worked on our BF Sport for Social Change Strategy which sets out how we will deliver on the Board objective to ‘maximise the wider benefits of fencing and the positive impact it can have on people’s lives’. This strategy creates the platform to identify and apply for alternative sources of funding to support and grow the work we do in this area. Our work in this area continues to be highly thought of by partners and stakeholders.

Membership and club numbers remained consistent up until February 2020.  Much of the work that we do for our members and clubs is solely funded by membership revenue, with significant expenditure in areas such as insurance and safeguarding.  As a sport, our largest challenge (or opportunity) remains the numbers of people fencing in the UK uninsured without affiliation which in turn means their clubs, coaches and associated committee members are uninsured by BF. Importantly this revenue loss significantly restricts longer term sustainable investment in athlete, referee, coach, volunteer and club development driven by the needs of the sport, and has the potential to impact our speed and ability to respond to the unfolding Covid-19 situation.

Our commercial activity is therefore an important element of our long term sustainability plans, as we expect to become more reliant on commercial surplus to subsidise membership and club activity. Our commercial income levels were maintained in 2019-20, and with investment in products and services, plus multi-year license agreements we continue to build for a more sustainable future.

As the financial year drew to a close in lockdown we recognise that in the last year of the funding cycle (2020-21) delivery to our funding partners will potentially look very different. The needs of our members and clubs will also change, our event portfolio will be impacted,  and commercial opportunities will be more limited. We will continue to work closely with Sport England, UK Sport, our partners, clubs and members as the whole sport sector rises to the challenges of Covid-19.

Across the UK at all levels of the sport (local, regional or national) fencing is supported by dedicated volunteers to whom we are incredibly grateful. We are optimistic that their passion, commitment and energy shown will ensure that fencing will endure.


Diversity note: As at end March 2020, 65% (11/17 –  compared to 47%, 9/19 in March 2019) of staff were female. These numbers do not include contracted fencing coaches.

The full 2019-20 Annual Report along with the accompanying accounts can be found here.


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