With no 6-day event in 2022, the Directors of the Company have been focused on updating the Strategy and Business Plan for the period 2023 – 2030 and considering the appointment and term of membership for Directors of the Board.
With regard to the Strategy and Business Plan, the key matters agreed are:
- The event should have the forest at its core but maintain the flexibility to evolve to meet developments in orienteering generally.
- Realistically, funding will continue to come from the public sector but external private funding will continue to be sought.
- In order to reduce pressure on volunteers, options will be considered as to whether event procedures can be reduced or simplified. A review of the number of courses needed will also be considered for each event.
- Sustainability is vital and we will continue to review economic, environmental and social factors to ensure that we continue to take positive steps towards managing a more sustainable event.
The appointment of Directors has been aligned with the policy of the SOA in that the term of office will be 3 years and, in normal circumstances, Directors will be permitted to serve a maximum of two terms. Under this arrangement, two of the current Directors will be retiring in 2023 and the Board will be seeking suitable replacements in due course.
The financial outcome of Lochaber 2021 was a small surplus and, as a consequence, payments to the SOA have been suspended until the financial outcome of Moray 2023 is predictable in order to protect the finances of the Company. The SOA applied for grants and loans to mitigate the effects of this suspension. In addition, no payment was made to Scottish clubs who helped to run the event. This was considered necessary to protect the financial strength and reserves of the Company.
Following the Lochaber event, the Board agreed a change to the structure of the competition with Moray 2023 being a 5-day event with the best 4 out of 5 runs to count. With this change, it should be easier to find suitable areas and potentially open up more parts of Scotland in which an event can be held. There will also be less pressure on volunteers. This change will also align us with other European multi-day events most of which are run on a 5 day basis. It is not envisaged that there will be an adverse impact on the financial strength of the Company following this change.
The Central Organising Team for Moray 2023 is in place with Elizabeth Furness as Coordinator and work is well-advanced on the organisation of the event with most of the day teams appointed. The areas have been used for previous 6-day events which will assist with the costs for the mapping of the areas.
As indicated in previous annual reports, the date of the sprint World Orienteering Championships, which were due to take place in Edinburgh in 2022, will now take place in 2024. This has resulted in strains on the original budget given the current and forecast levels of inflation and the reduction in the value of Sterling. The Event Director for the event, Paul McGreal, and the Finance Director, Bob Dredge are considering the impact of these pressures and possible mitigation options in conjunction with the 6-Day Company’s Finance Director. The organisation of the event was temporarily suspended as a result of the postponement but is now fully operational again.
Initial preparations for the 6-Day event in 2025 are proving difficult as potential areas were affected by storm Arwen in November 2021. This resulted in considerable damage to many areas making them unsuitable for 6-Day events. Volunteer overload is also an issue especially with three major events in successive years from 2023 to 2025. The Board will continue to assess the options available including the format of the event and the variety of areas that could be used for the event.
Nikki Howard was appointed during the year to replace Colin Matheson as Events and Operations Manager at the SOA with part of her time dedicated to 6-Day and WOC business. There have been no changes to the Board this year. I would like to thank the Directors and co-opted members for their work and support during this period. I am very grateful for their continued commitment to the Company.