Meet Ray Wigglesworth and the BMC Organisational Review Group

Headed by independent chair Ray Wigglesworth QC, the BMC organisational review is now fully underway. Not knowing much about the mystery man at the top, we got hold of Ray to find out a bit more about him, what the Organisational Review is all about, and how BMC members can contribute to the process.

How did you get roped into chairing the BMC Organisational Review?
The BMC heard about my mountaineering background through a mutual legal contact and approached me about getting involved. I see it as a great honour to be invited to help out and it’s something I’m approaching very seriously. 

I would not have been selected as the independent chair if I had been a past member of the BMC. But now that I have been made aware of all the amazing services that the BMC provide, I am going to join as a paying member at the end of my tour of duty.

What’s the purpose of the Review?
The BMC’s written constitution is now 25 years old and, since then, there have been changes in company law and the approach to codes of governance, which define the relationship between the various parties involved in the management of a large membership organisation. Not to forget, the dawn of the internet across this period has also changed the way our members interact with the organisation, and the constitution does not reflect this. 

Our terms of reference permit us to consider and compare best practice across similar organisations with a view to making recommendations which will ultimately go to members at the 2018 AGM.

How did you choose the Review Group members?
At the National Council meeting in April 2017, I was given instructions on the category of candidates for four of the places on the Review Group and we advertised for volunteers, from the membership, for the other two places. I wanted a corporate lawyer and a person with experience of codes of governance. These positions were subsequently filled and I would like to thank all those members who sent me emails volunteering their services.

How independent is the process?
We are operating independently of the BMC’s central administration and are endeavouring to make the process as open as possible by doing the following:

1. Publishing a monthly report.
2. Organising a Membership Questionnaire which will be sent out to all members in July.
3. Holding focus group meetings with specific membership categories and interest groups.

We do not intend to make any recommendations for change until we have received all of the feedback.

How will BMC members feed into the Review?
It’s incredibly important that BMC members take part in the process. We will gather opinions via the membership questionnaire, the focus groups, feedback on our monthly reports, through the Area Meetings in September, November, and February, and ultimately the AGM.

After getting all the feedback from BMC members, we will then be able to assess and comment on the governance structure of the organisation and how it compares to other sporting organisations. Until then, we have no indications on the likely direction of any outcomes. 

How would you describe progress to date?
We have put together a large file of relevant documents and have been considering what is described as best practice in similar organisations. We have employed an outside agency to do the membership questionnaire and have drafted a list of questions for the various focus groups. 

At the moment, we are deliberately not forming any views on potential changes until we have seen the feedback from the survey and the focus groups. The Review Group meetings (around five to date) have been positive, enthusiastic and cohesive, and all involved are keen to contribute.

And finally, tell us a bit about your mountaineering background.
I joined the Fylde Mountaineering Club when I was 17 and regularly used the Club’s hut in Little Langdale. Everyone I met was obsessed by rock climbing and there was a strong feeling of being a part of something new and exciting. Climbing with Dave Morris, we quickly progressed onto the harder climbs like Astra, Sword of Damocles and Deer Bield Buttress.

In 1965, we went to Chamonix and camped for a month on the old Biollay site near the cemetery. By this stage I was totally hooked on climbing and mountaineering and, for the next 10 years, I enjoyed all those wonderful experiences that only mountains can provide.

Everything changed, however, in 1974 when I was called to the Bar and I had to focus on the job. My career as a barrister became almost as obsessive as the call of the crags, but it has not diminished my love of mountaineering and my admiration for the men and women who excel at it.

I think it is vital to the health of the nation that we encourage all forms of physical exercise. I still climb with my wife and our three children and we also go Alpine ski touring. If you keep fit there is more chance that your life will be longer, happier and more fulfilling.

The members of the BMC Organisational Review Group 

Matthew Bradbury: Individual member and Independent Director of the BMC. Matthew has always enjoyed the outdoors and made a career out of caring for wild places. For over 20 years, he ran a national consultancy advising landowners on environmental management, access and sustainability. Since then, he has worked in senior positions for the Land Trust and is now CEO of one of the largest independent Park Trusts in the UK.

Paul Caddy: Individual member, lawyer, published writer, copywriter and trainee Mountain Leader. Interests include trekking, winter mountaineering and the occasional visit to indoor climbing walls. He also a keen ski mountaineer, having most recently toured in Japan, the Alps and the Norwegian Arctic.

Rab Carrington: BMC Patron and clubs nomination. Rab – gear guru, past president of the BMC and member of several clubs – brings a wealth of experience to the team. Read our interview with Rab.


Simon McCalla: Individual member and Independent Director of the BMC. Simon learnt to climb on the sea cliffs of Devon and Cornwall in the late 80s, before branching out to the Alps and winter climbing. Professionally, he has a background in technology and has worked in a range of industries to help businesses achieve commercial growth.

John Roberts: Climbers’ Club and Alpine Club member. Initially a teacher, John is co-founder and CEO of an education legal services company, and a strategy consultant to education charities and start ups. John is an independent trustee of the Association of British Climbing and Training Trust.

Fiona Sanders: Clubs member. Fiona is a keen climber and club member, having started some 25 years ago. A former president of the Climbers’ Club, Fiona instigated the club forum and continues to champion clubs at a national and local level through her role as chair of the BMC Clubs Committee.

Rebecca Ting: Individual member. As well as a fundraiser and trustee for education and sports charities, Rebecca is a keen climber with an unhealthy interest in sea stacks. She holds a TA commission as Captain, coaches climbing to young people and visually-impaired adults, and helps run the Women’s Climbing Symposium.

Note: Matthew Bradbury and Simon McCalla are sharing one Review Group position between the two of them.

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