08/10/2021- Member

2020-2021 Presidents Report

Includes the President and International Relations Report. This article forms part of a series of reports which accompanies the 2020-21 BF Annual Report.

As Chair of British Fencing’s International Relations (IR) Committee I continued to work closely with Georgina Usher and UK Sport’s IR representatives regarding our overall IR strategy and our long-term succession planning.

With the worldwide impact of the pandemic and – sadly – the cancellation of so many events, neither myself nor any of our team of IR post-holders had the opportunity to meet up with international fencing colleagues face-to-face in the 12 months from April 2020.

IR activities therefore continued online where possible, including an EFC Congress in September 2020 and an FIE online voting facility in November 2020 for dealing with urgent business.  In addition, the event cancellations prompted a series of informal Zoom meetings, largely European-based, providing good opportunities for discussing topics of common interest.

BF had been scheduled to hold the 3rd in a series of international ‘Good Governance’ workshops in the spring of 2020, but this had to be postponed twice and has yet to be rescheduled. However, BF – in conjunction with Sweden and Finland – hosted a Good Governance webinar in February 2021 which was attended by Presidents and Board members from 14 European nations and was well-received.

On the refereeing front I was delighted with BF’s series of referee education webinars in March 2021, and the valuable contribution made by a group of the world’s leading referees. This series was of great benefit not only to our referees but also to many of our top athletes and coaches.

I continued as a Commonwealth Fencing Federation (CFC) Commission member, with the long-term objective of fencing’s re-entry into the Commonwealth Games. A particular focus in recent years has been to work with the CFF and IWAS Fencing to establish the first ever integrated team event where each team will comprise able-bodied and wheelchair fencers.  This is progressing well, and we hope that this innovative format will be showcased in the 2022 Commonwealth Fencing Championships to be held in London next August, hosted by England Fencing.

International Relations

Great Britain continues to have strong representation on the FIE Commissions and Councils. FIE post-holders include Clare Halsted (Medical Commission & Head of the Anti-Doping Programme), Steve Higginson (Chair of the Rules Commission), Janet Huggins (SEMI Commission), Peter Jacobs (Legal Commission), Caryl Oliver (Veterans Council) and Georgina Usher (Women in Fencing Council).

Our FIE post-holders attended the annual FIE Commission & Council meetings online, and also continued with normal business via Zoom meetings, email and telephone. Steve and Janet have collaborated on the Rules restructuring project, and Clare and Peter both undertook Covid-related work including the risk mitigation guidelines for competition organisers.  Clare was also busy on the anti-doping front, working with FIE Head Office on rule revisions, operational instructions and sport-specific protocols for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

As always, thanks are due to all our IR representatives, FIE and EFC, who are continuing to make their contributions to the world of fencing and its future – albeit largely online.

Hilary Philbin, President


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