I'm writing a last update following my decision to step down from the role of Chair of BCNE following the successful re-election of the committee and my role at the last AGM. When I started on the committee it was not long before events led to me and others coming forward to offer myself as the Chair of the region. At that point and for a number of reasons, the region was in a pretty bad way. Although my particular hope was to try to secure more of a future for the young riders from our Go-Ride and other clubs with youth interests; I recognised, as did the board that came together in September 2013, that there was a need to look at the sport across all disciplines and ages - and try in doing so to both stabilize and develop the sport. It isn't as if this was not an aspiration of previous boards or individuals, but events had conspired to put the region into some difficulties. I thought that elements of my working life could be used to help us re-structure and rebuild.
Over the next year, a long and painstaking task of putting the region's finances back on track was undertaken. I was delighted to report to the AGM in September 2015 that we were now very much back in control of these, thanks to the efforts of two volunteers; one of whom continues as the region's Treasurer. We also had substantial help from a consultant working with British Cycling in the first year. Elsewhere, we put into place some fairly boring but essential procedures to ensure that if the board should meet an untimely end, others could pick up the business and know what to do. I cannot thank individuals here without thanking each and every board member from 2013 to the present for their commitment and help in various ways - from administration to youth teams, to finance and developing the cycling calendar. To do all this, the board has been very fortunate to see three new faces in the team of four British Cycling officers supporting the region, with the fourth member a highly valued officer able to maintain consistency and balance for the newcomers.
I have given scant recognition to the amount of work the two boards have done since 2013, but it has proven to be a perennial issue to get the messages out there. I took a decision to step down because of a number of factors, some negative. Overall though, I came to a point where I recognised that my energies were drained and my capability unequal to the task of continuing to drive forward - hopefully with as many people on board as possible! There is a personal health factor here and one about longevity - after 25 years, I need to step back from all my cycling commitments.
So, I am delighted to be able to report that the region has a new Chair and that the region will continue to try to develop the sport. What's critical is that British Cycling members and clubs get involved. I can't stress too highly that ours is the smallest BC region and even though that is true, we still have to have all of the parts of the sport in development, such as regional coaching for young riders (and adults, especially the growth area in women's participation), just like the bigger regions that lie South and West of us. Without more people helping us to run the sport, it falls to a very few and overworks our committed but not indestructible officers. That is one of the factors that has caused me great concern.
I hope this appeals to BC members out there in the North East. It isn't about furthering your own ends and it is quite often vexatious because everyone is passionate about our sport and just occasionally guilty of narrow-mindedness (I understand there's several such debates on something called "FaceBook".....) but if you have had a lot out of the sport, becoming a member of our workgroups (very hands on) or the board itself - even for a year - is a great way of putting something back.
I wish the board and the region every success in the future. I am immeasurably grateful to the board and officers for their support and hard work and recently, kind understanding. I look forward to reading the new chair's introductory message. Get involved - it's your sport!
Tony Hodgson - Hetton Hawks CC