BSUK changes Board members and seeks a new Chair

Wed 13 Dec 2017

Three new Non-Executive Directors were appointed to the BaseballSoftballUK Board at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting on Sunday 10 December, as the Board said goodbye to Chair John Walmsley after six years of service in the role.

Also leaving the Board were long-serving Directors Mike Jennings and Jon Deacon.

Appointed as Independent Non-Executive Directors were Simon Winman, Head of Club Development at the Rugby Football Union, and Evan Ray, who works as the Senior Commercial Solicitor for The Football Association’s Premier League.

They were joined by another Non-Executive Director, Chris Deacon, who is Managing Director of European Administrative Services.

Directors remaining on the Board are Cate Atwater (Interim Chair), Chris Greenhalgh, Jenny Fromer, Simon Wareing and Cody Cain.

The Board is currently advertising for a new Chair and for up to three more Independent Directors.

The new appointments drop the ratio of women to men on the current BaseballSoftballUK Board to 25%, but the Board will seek to redress this imbalance through its impending appointments.


BaseballSoftballUK CEO John Boyd paid tribute to the Board members who have left the organisation.

“BaseballSoftballUK wouldn't be the organisation it is today without the hard work and effort of the departing Board Directors,” John said.

“John Walmsley joined the BaseballSoftballUK Board during his time as a member of a Dream Team British Baseball Federation Board under the presidency of Rob Rance – a Board that included James Pearce, who has gone on to run the World Baseball Classic for Major League Baseball.  John was a key part of the Development Strategy Committee that shaped the funding submission for the 2009-13 Sport England funding application.  John was in the Chair by the time we applied for the 2013-17 Sport England funding, armed with a new organisational strategy and building towards the vision of the sports as 'Played in Every Park'.  John's vision of the sports reaching a wider audience was realised through a growth spurt from around 10,000 players when he first joined to the 23,000 we have today -- the biggest growth in the sports’ history, with participants counted using the methodology he helped create in 2008.  John's time also saw the establishment and then the expansion of the national facility at Farnham Park, now a four-field complex with a bar and restaurant, and the formation of the High Performance Academy with a hike in investment from Sport England.

“Mike Jennings joined the BaseballSoftballUK Board in July 2010,” John Boyd added, “and has been a stalwart of the Board ever since, leading the Finance Committee during the entirety of his tenure.

“Jon Deacon joined the Board as an Independent Non-Executive Director in 2013 and quickly took a lead on commercial matters and opportunities to partner with the Federations.  The current tripartite ball deal came about under his watch.

“I'd like to thank John, Mike and Jon for their service to the organisation,” John concluded.  “It is a mark of a strong Director to leave an organisation in an improved position and each of these people has done so in terms of their own contributions.  On behalf of the Board, the staff team and all the players of baseball and softball who have benefited directly and indirectly from their efforts, I would like to thank them for their hard work and leadership."

John Walmsley statement

On Monday 11 December, John Walmsley sent the following statement to his colleagues at BaseballSoftballUK:

“Time has finally caught up with me, and after six years as Chair, and two earlier years as a Director, I’ve now ‘timed out’ in governance terms.  Yesterday was my final day, final Board meeting and final AGM.

“I am incredibly proud and privileged to have worked in and amongst you over many years.  You have eased my role through exceptional delivery of services to our customers and communities, and by achieving and exceeding the goals set by the Board.  The growth rate of softball and baseball is something many other sports can only aspire to.  We have the tangibles of Farnham Park, our wonderful Talent and Academy programmes and we have helped improve the quality of coaching and safeguarding for many teams and clubs.

“Yesterday, new Directors were appointed to the Board.  Cate Atwater generously volunteered to be the Interim Chair, although a search and recruitment process will now commence for a new Chair.  I’m sure you’ll support Cate and the Board as well as you’ve supported me.  I’m mindful in my tenure that not enough was done at times to connect the Board to the staff team – I’d hope a refreshed Board took that as an ambition for the future, but that’s for others now, not me.

I wish you collectively and individually all the very best for the future and will continue to watch BaseballSoftballUK with interest.  Although the past record is good, I believe in an even better future for the organisation and for softball and baseball across the country.

Finally, I’m not sure there’s ever an ‘off-season’ for BaseballSoftballUK, but I hope you’re able to spend time with family and friends over the holiday period, relax and come back with new energy and focus in 2018.”

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