British Eventing chairman resigns with immediate effect

  • British Eventing (BE) chairman Fiona O’Hara has resigned with immediate effect owing to a “recent change to her own personal and professional circumstances”.

    Ms O’Hara was appointed to the BE board in 2017 and became chairman in 2019, a position to which she was re-appointed this year.

    Chief executive Helen West said news of Ms O’Hara’s resignation on Monday (15 November) was an “unfortunate day for British Eventing”.

    “Fiona has given nearly five years of dedicated, loyal service and been instrumental in managing our sport safely through some very testing times,” she said.

    “She is a skilled chairperson, and we will miss her natural ability to strike the balance between setting discussion and listening.

    “On behalf of everyone, I’d like to thank her for everything she’s done to manage difficult situations while simultaneously driving the organisation forward. We wish her all the best in the future both professionally and personally.”

    A statement from BE cites the reason for Ms O’Hara’s resignation as: “A recent change to her own personal and professional circumstances means that Fiona feels she is no longer able to give the continued time, commitment and dedication required to carry out the role as effectively as she would wish to.”

    “The board and staff thank her for her commitment to the sport and will miss her commercial acumen and judgement deeply,” it said, adding she has been a “key part of managing the organisation through the pandemic and paving the way with all stakeholder groups for the sport to resume successfully”.

    A BE spokesman told H&H an interim chair will be announced shortly, and confirmed Ms O’Hara’s resignation is not connected to the conflict-of-interest matter mentioned in the most recent IT steering committee update.

    The spokesman reiterated that Ms O’Hara’s decision was due to a change in personal and professional circumstances and the continued time and commitment that the role requires.

    The notes from the 26 October committee meeting were published on the BE website on Friday (12 November) and reference Ms O’Hara’s recent appointment by Salesforce, the software company behind BE’s IT system. According to her LinkedIn page, Ms O’Hara joined Salesforce in September this year.

    The meeting notes state that the committee chairman: “…highlighted the disclosure of the BE chair’s recent engagement by Salesforce, and the board’s concern to address conflicts of interest by taking mitigating steps.

    “[These include] ensuring that the BE chair stands back from decision-making, or influencing any decisions, by BE management, its board and committees relating to Salesforce.”

    Linda Allan, chair of the Event Horse Owners Association, thanked Ms O’Hara for her services on behalf of the sport’s owners. The British Event Organisers Association, also acknowledged her years of service and wished her well.

    Bruce Haskell, chair of the Eventing Riders Association (ERA), added: “ERA would like to thank Fiona for her valued input during her tenure as director and chair, particularly regarding the IT project and the abandonment insurance claim in 2020 which greatly benefited the membership. We wish her well for the future.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...