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Hooligans Game
CREDIT: Richard Bown ARPS

A hooligan’s game

A team must reflect on its performance

Since the RPS Election 2019, this Board of Trustees has faced more than its fair share of challenges. No sooner had the results of the election been announced than our President resigned and we were embroiled in an investigation into the conduct of the very election that had put us here. Between that election and the one that we are fast approaching, we have seen the resignation of six Trustees – two Presidents, two elected Trustees and two co-opted Trustees. By any assessment that is not good for the Society nor for the well-being of the individual Trustees.

Yet, despite these challenges, the Board has continued to deliver on the duties and responsibilities for which it was elected. It has developed new By-Laws; it undertook an organisation-wide strategic review and created an exciting new Strategic Plan unlike anything the Society has seen previously; and it has worked with Think, our publishers, to redesign the RPS Journal and make it an inspirational and award-winning resource for the members.

The Board twice ensured the succession of the Presidency; appointed a new Chief Executive; made temporary co-options to bring the Board closer to full strength and provide a more diverse range of skills and experiences; formed a Critical Friends Group to promote greater diversity and inclusion; established a Nominations Committee to facilitate a robust and transparent process for the more effective recruitment of Trustees; is overseeing the creation of Terms of Reference for all Committees; is producing Role Descriptions and Person Specifications for Officers and Trustees; and has drafted Regulations for a Chartered Photographer designation. The Board has gained greater control of the Society’s finances and investment portfolio; is completing the procurement of a new CRM system; and has achieved dozens of other lesser but very necessary initiatives. 

Under normal circumstances this would be an incredible achievement but the Board has delivered all of this during a global pandemic. If there is one activity I have missed above all others during the coronavirus lockdowns, it has been playing rugby, a sport that is often described as “a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen”. There is a standing joke on the Board that I often draw an analogy between our work as Trustees and ‘the noble game’ - it is not just that both require a thick skin, an eye for strategy and lots of stamina.

The success of any team depends on recruiting players who bring the highest level of skills and experience, and a consummate professionalism to their game; they must be able to take criticism and build on the collective effort for the common ambition of the team above that of the individual. Whether it is the 15 players of a rugby team or the members of a Board of Trustees, a team must continually review its game and reflect on how it is performing. The present Board has already begun a review of how it has performed and is intent on finding ways in which it can contribute more effectively to the future governance of the Society. This is a process that begins with the current Board but which I intend to continue with the new Board.

Our new By-Laws provide for a Board of 12 Trustees – the President, the Treasurer (both incumbents remain on the next Board) and 10 new Trustees (six elected and four co-opted). We have a skilled and dedicated senior leadership team – Evan, Michael and Nikki.  Altogether that makes 15 … perhaps it is no coincidence that this is the number of players in a rugby team.


Picture captions:

(main)  A powerful drive forward by Imari Epps of Harrogate Ladies RUFC 1st XV.  One of a series of photographs from a Distinctions photobook project by RPS member Richard Bown ARPS.


Copyright © Simon Hill HonFRPS

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