President’s medal 2016

Firstly, a few words about Richard’s athletic achievements. He is rather modest about these achievements, but was obviously a very good orienteer in his heyday. He was M35 SOL Winner, although with typical modesty he puts that down to the fact that Messrs Dean/Tullie/Petrie/Daly & Coombs had all just moved up to M40. He has also completed the Bob Graham Round in the Lake District and won a few mountain marathon prizes. So, hardly insignificant achievements.

Richard has filled a number of very important organisational roles over the 20 years he has been a member of SOA. In that time he has:

Acted as a Grade A Controller, including Assistant Controller at Affric 1999 when the WOC Long Distance Final was held. Regularly had a position of responsibility at S6D Events, including Planner in 2007, Coordinator in 2011 and Controller in 2013
Planned, organised and controlled several SOLs and Relays over the years.

However, I am awarding Richard the President’s Medal this year because of the role he played in the very successful Highland 2015, when he was overall Coordinator of the S6D element. Although he had been the Coordinator before, in 2011, we all know that 2015 was an exceptional year with major challenges presented by the integration of the 6-Days Events with the World Championship races.

One of the stand-out moments for me as far as Richard’s contribution is concerned was at a meeting of the fledgling Highland 2015 Steering Group in 2013. We were struggling with how to move forward an integrated project – a joint venture. It was at this meeting that Richard led us carefully and calmly, using the good old flip chart and marker, to a joint venture approach with designated S6D and WOC responsibilities but an integrated programme and, importantly, an integrated budget. In Richard’s own words:

I drew on my experience (at BP and since then) working with/ facilitating large project teams in industry to make good decisions and turn them into effective plans with clear accountability. This usually involves groups of strong minded individuals who have to be aligned so they don't run off and do their own thing. Over the years I've also spent a lot of time leading technical, strategy and business planning teams so learned a lot about the root causes of poor performance/ delivery – usually through bitter experience!

The other stand-out moment was the near-disaster on Day 6 when very wet fields raised serious problems for parking. Again in Richard’s words:

We had a few logistical challenges. Running a major sporting event in a Highland Glen at the end of an 8km single track with no communications isn’t easy. We would like to thank the volunteers who stepped in to help at the last minute. And we would like to apologise to anyone who was delayed by traffic or had to walk further than expected. Hopefully being able to run in unique world class terrain made it worthwhile.

In talking to Richard about this award, I know that he would be the first to acknowledge the support he has had from the many volunteers who came forward to help at Highland 2015. He considers the award to be as much an acknowledgement of their support as it is of his leadership

Richard, I’m delighted to award you the SOA President’s Medal for 2016.