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WHERE NOW FOR THE SKI CLUB GB? - James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Tuesday January 16, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

A new CEO has been appointed. Our editor, James Cove, has been closely involved with the Club over the years & looks at the challenges ahead.



The Ski Club has recently appointed a new chairman, a new treasurer, a new president and now it has a new CEO, Darren Neylon.  

Its long-time mountain safety advisor and leader of the Leaders' course, Nigel Shepherd, has stood down and the club's highly respected head of partnerships, Simon Henwood, has moved on.

It has sold its clubhouse in Wimbledon, which it owned the freehold, and moved into rented office space by Wimbledon station. 

To say times are changing at the oldest ski club in the UK, if not the world, is an understatement.  

Outside of the office its Leader's programme, where its specially trained leaders take members skiing, has ended in France.   

Some members feel the Club has lost its way and has stopped being a club, but has become more of a holiday company with its Freshtracks programme.  

They think it is more concerned with attempting to make money than looking after its members' interests.  

Others feel it has lost its relevance in the modern snowsports world and needs to re-build relationships with other UK snowsports organisations.

One of Darren Neylon first more day-to-day tasks will be to ensure the costly and upgraded web site works correctly - it is a current headache for many.

Mr Neylon has much on his plate. 

However its fall in membership in recent years is less than the overall fall in the UK market, its new holiday insurance is doing well and its Freshtracks programme sees more and more members taking its holidays.
 
It has championed initiatives to raise money for the GB Snowsports Team with some success and has supported grassroots skiing plus skiing for people with disabilities.

I am currently in Zermatt and attended the club's social hour this week at the Hotel Pollux and there was a healthy number of people at the evening.

The dozen or so people chatted about their day on the slopes and welcomed the Club's ability to bring keen skiers and snowboarders together.

The former CEO, Frank McCusker, died suddenly last summer of a heart-attack. 

I wrote a personal obituary of him - the man and his legacy.
The task ahead is to keep some of the benefits Frank brought in and yet re-discover the heart of the Club and make it more relevant to holiday skiers and the UK snowsports industry.

It is a significant challenge.

If Darren Neylon gets it wrong then the Club might wither into relative insignificance compared to where it used to be.   

Yet if he succeeds the Club could see it regain its position at the centre of the UK snowsports industry and helping many thousands enjoy their time in the mountains. 

Here at PlanetSKI we wish him all the best and will offer support where we can. 

And if I can offer one piece of advice it is simple:

Bring a genuine for passion for skiing and snowsports back to the Club in everything it does and stop worrying about the numbers.

They will take care of themselves if the genuine and unbriddled passion is there.

My guess is Darren has been brought in to worry about the numbers.
 
James is a former council member of the Club (2005-2008), founder member of its environment committee, advisory council member on alpine safety and was content editor of its web site in 2008.

He is a former Rep/Leader, representing the club in Verbier, Zermatt and Whistler. 

He was Rep of the Year in 2002.


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