Eventing boss steps down after two years of ‘vision and sheer hard work’

  • British Eventing (BE) chief executive Helen West is to step back this summer, after two years of “sheer hard work, commitment, vision and ability to drive change”.

    BE announced today with “deep regret” that Ms West, who has been in post since summer 2021, is resigning owing to personal circumstances including the need to care for her father. She will stay until June.

    BE chairman Mark Sartori said: “Helen will be immensely missed. She came to the role with a wealth of knowledge across all aspects of the sport.

    “It is this that has seen her stabilise the sport from the extremely precarious position it was in to where it looks set to be profitable for the first time in eight years and where we are seeing membership growth for the first time in six years.”

    Mr Sartori said this was “no mean feat”, and Ms West joined knowing it would not be an easy job.

    “The sport was struggling financially as a result of a failed IT project and two seasons of interruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. “The turnaround that we are today seeing in the sport is the direct result of the sheer hard work, commitment, vision and ability to drive change that Helen has delivered throughout her time at the helm. I speak not only on behalf of myself, but the entire non-executive board, when I say that we hold Helen in the highest regard and are unable to thank her enough for navigating her way through the amount of necessary change that was required to move the sport forward.”

    Mr Sartori cited the national training structure in place via the Howden Way, the BE80(T) championships at Bramham, grassroots regional championships, leagues at all levels and the new amateur championships at Osberton among the achievements of Ms West’s time at the helm.

    “Restructuring the membership offer and introducing new member incentives has also seen a membership growth across both competing members and horse registrations, a vastly increased level of commercial investment along with a much more efficient business delivery in terms of financial costs,” he said. “In addition, Helen has been instrumental in the creation of the British Equestrian Support Trust (BEST) for which she also sits as a trustee.  The creation of BEST saw British Eventing to be the first British-based equestrian national governing body to have a charity created purely to help its members through difficult times resulting from an eventing accident or mental health issues. BEST is something that we should all not only feel particularly proud of, but also reassured by.  It has already helped a number of members on their road to recovery, the most notable of which was the assistance offered to Nicola Wilson after her terrible fall at Badminton last year.

    “We know this has been an extremely hard decision for Helen and is one that we need to respect. I am hoping that Helen will continue to be involved with the sport and the association. We will now be commencing the recruitment process to identify a successor who can continue building from the solid position that Helen leaves the sport in when she finishes in June”.

    Ms West said she had to step back for personal reasons, but: “To say this was a difficult decision would be an understatement. I will always be available to British Eventing to assist where I can.

    “I am incredibly proud of everything we have achieved over the past two years, and I have taken great pleasure seeing the sport evolve despite being forced to make difficult decisions at times.

    “Change is always hard but has been crucial to the survival of the sport.  I will always remain 100% committed to the sport but right now, it is imperative that I step back and spend some time with my father as his primary carer. I have been tremendously fortunate to work with some great colleagues at British Eventing and would like to extend huge gratitude for their support in working alongside me. I strongly believe that British Eventing has a bright future ahead and I look forward to watching it flourish under the direction of my successor when appointed.”

    BE will now start the recruitment process for a new chief executive.

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