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A BD quarter two from Jason Brautigam, BD CEO                  View this email in your browser

Dear <<First Name>>,
 
As June nears completion, it’s time for my second quarterly update of the year, although the end of March feels like a lifetime ago.  I hope that you are all keeping well, despite the significant challenges of the last three months, which have made it a testing time for us all.  The pandemic has impacted on every single one of us in some way, but I hope that you’re all beginning to feel more positive now that there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.
 
While we may have to live with the threat of the coronavirus for the foreseeable future, at least we are finally able to get back up and running, so members can once again train, compete and enjoy the wonderful sport of dressage.  Although we will all have to adapt to new conditions, adhering to social distancing, public health and hygiene regulations, at least we are able to start our winter qualifying season as planned on 1 July in England, which is a welcome first step back to normality.
 
We’ve all had to deal with an unprecedented set of circumstances and respond to an ever-changing situation over the past 12 weeks, while working hard to safeguard the future of the sport.  We have issued no fewer than 35 updates and communications with our different stakeholder groups during this time, which have hopefully kept you informed and updated at all times.  We have often shared some of your frustrations along the way, particularly with some of the inconsistent messages and lack of clarity from central government, but ultimately the most important consideration throughout this crisis to date has been the health and well-being of all of the sport’s participants.

 
Devolved differences
The lack of alignment and differing policies of the devolved administrations continue to present us with significant challenges, as lockdown restrictions ease at different rates.  Indoor schools can once again be used in Scotland from 29 June and England from 4 July, which is great news, while travel restrictions are set to be reviewed in Scotland on 2 July and Wales on 6 July.  Everything continues to move in the right direction, even if not at the same pace, but we are hopeful that the sport will still be able to resume in the second half of July at the latest for all members.
 
If we can give the green light to all organised BD training and competition activity in England, Scotland and Wales, by the end of next month it will be a fantastic result for everyone.  Of course, we do need to be mindful that things can still change quickly; there may be local flare-ups or a second wave, but the protocols and procedures that we have put in place for the safe resumption of sport should put us in good stead should we have to deal with any setbacks.

 
BD community COVID-19 charter
Last week we launched our BD community COVID-19 Charter, which are a set of principles we all should abide by when taking part in any type of activity, be it working, training, competing or just undertaking everyday tasks.  As more and more activity gets underway, please have these points at the forefront of your mind – and with your help we can ensure that our organisers and venues are able to provide a safe, controlled and regulated environments for you to enjoy dressage.
Financial impact of the crisis
The crisis has undoubtedly impacted on all of us – mentally, emotionally and not least financially.  I know it has been tough for those involved in our sport, often having to manage with reduced or no income, and these have no doubt been worrying times for many of our members.
 
The Board and Finance & Business Development Committee have worked closely with the Senior Management Team to protect the financial stability of the organisation, despite the fact that our main income streams have been decimated during the lockdown period, whether from membership subscriptions, competition levies or commercial revenue.

We have worked hard to make cost savings and reduce budget overheads where possible, including furloughing half of our workforce for the last three months, but this crisis will still have a significant impact on our financial position.  At one stage we were projecting a loss for the year of up to £1.1m, which would have wiped out half of our reserves, but prudent planning has enabled us to reforecast to a loss of between £650,000 and £850,000, depending on the level of recovery we can achieve in the second half of the year.
 
This is still a significant amount – and there will be an awful lot of work to do over the next 18 months to get back to pre-pandemic levels.  However, we are extremely grateful for the loyal support from our members, partners and sponsors, who have helped us to weather this storm and keep our losses to a manageable level.
 
Now that we have a restart date, the BD Board is keen to recognise and repay some of that loyalty.  It would have been financially irresponsible for us to make any early commitments, when so much was still unknown about how long this could go on for, but now we can move forward with a degree of certainty we will be able to offer some concessions to members as promised.
 
I am pleased to confirm that all members who maintained their horse registrations during the suspension period will have a two month extension added to their renewal date.  To qualify for this extension, the horse registration and corresponding owner(s) membership must have been valid as of 31 May 2020, with a 28 day grace period applied for renewals.  This covers the full months of April and May when there was no training or competition activity.
 
This concession will cost a significant six figure sum, which has a further impact on our bottom line, but we wanted to support members by acknowledging your important contribution to BD during this difficult time.  Horse registrations that qualify will have the two months automatically added, so you won’t need to take any action – please just allow up to two weeks for your renewal date to be amended.  More detailed terms and conditions are available.  If you have any questions, please do get in touch with our membership team by email: membership@britishdressage.co.uk .
 
Venues and organisers have also been severely impacted, of course, and we want to help ease them back into action too.  To make competitions more viable during the initial resumption phase, while the government restrictions remain in place, we will be waiving the minimum starter levy requirement.  For a limited period, until 31 August 2020, shows will only have to make payments based on actual starters, which should help with smaller class numbers in the early stages.

 
Competitions plans for the remainder of 2020
Once competitions have restarted across the country, our focus can then switch to planning some of the larger events. As outlined in our Operational Plan in May, it has been our stated aim to reschedule the NAF Five Star Winter Championships and Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships if at all possible.  We’ve recently consulted with those members who qualified, with an overwhelmingly positive response.  The vast majority still want to compete, even if the event is not on the same scale and we are unable to provide the same vibrant, social atmosphere and environment that you would normally expect.
 
We’re currently exploring available dates in mid-August with the original venue, Hartpury College, and our event organisers, Show Direct.  Once we have a clearer indication on the operational viability and potential schedule, we’ll be back in touch with further details – but we certainly still hope to bring these championships to conclusion, which is exciting news for all of our loyal members and sponsors who have waited patiently for this to finally happen.

In addition, we are working on revised plans for the Shearwater Young Horse Championships, even if they have to take place indoors later in the year, as our talented youngsters will only get one chance at their age class.  In our Operational Plan we also announced the intention to run a dedicated U21 Championships later in the year.  The early development of the concept has begun and we should be able to announce something in the coming weeks.
 
Although we have had to sadly abandon the summer season after losing three months of competition, please remember that all of those who have maintained their membership during lockdown will have their qualifications carried forward to the winter season.  They will remain valid for the next six months, from 1 July through to 31 December 2020.
 
Back in May we also confirmed that the 2020 Quest season would end with the eight regional championship finals, as we felt these shows would be more manageable under COVID restrictions and still give Club members a focus for the end of the year. The leaderboards in England will resume from 1 July and end on 31 August as planned to decide the top 20 My Quest riders at each level and top 15 Team Quest teams in the open and U21 sections for each region.  In Scotland and Wales we’ll be extending the qualification period, in accordance with our dates for resumption in those countries, so we’ll keep you all informed once we have been given the green light.
 
The coming weeks and months ahead will inevitably present their own unique set of challenges as we adjust to a different way of operating.  A flexible approach is going to be required by everyone, in all roles – whether competitors, owners, coaches, officials or organisers – as our sport settles into a new normality.  It won’t be the same as we are used to and it may take some time to adapt, but we have a great feeling of community in dressage, which has really come into its own during the crisis – and together we can make it work by supporting each other.
 
On behalf of the BD Board and staff, I’d like to thank you all for your kind understanding and generous support throughout the crisis.  It has been heartening to read many of your emails and messages, which have demonstrated that your passion for the sport is as strong as ours and this has kept us all going, even in dark times.  Thanks to your help we have almost made it out of the other side – and with a true team spirit we can rebuild British Dressage into an even stronger and better organisation for all.


With best wishes,

Jason Brautigam
CEO, British Dressage
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