Mark Davis, chair of the Dons Trust Board, welcomes the four newly elected members of the Board and gives a personal perspective on what they have signed up for.
By the time you read this, the Dons Trust’s AGM will have taken place, formalising some departures and arrivals on the board. Let me first briefly pay tribute to the departing members of the Dons Trust Board (DTB).
Sean McLaughlin joined the DTB in April 2006 and has served as treasurer ever since. Matthew Breach, who was elected in 2006, spent seven years as chair, and then, as vice-chair, provided me with invaluable advice and support when I took over as chair this year. Nigel Higgs served on the DTB for four years, before which he was responsible for developing the club’s successful youth system as a director of AFC Wimbledon. Tim Hillyer was on the DTB for two years and, besides being a long- standing member of the merchandise team, has served on the boards of the Football Supporters’ Federation and Supporters Direct. Finally, Charles Williams served two successive years as a co-opted DTB member looking after youth engagement. Thank you, Sean, Matt, Nigel, Tim, and Charles, for your loyal service. The DTB loses a significant weight of experience with your departures.
As it happens, three of the incoming DTB members are no strangers to the board and its ways of working. Luke Mackenzie was a member of the DTB in the early years of the Trust, while Hannah Kitcher and Rob Crane are more recent volunteers on the secretariat, helping with communications. Anna Kingsley is a newcomer to the DTB but has lifelong connections to this club. Welcome, all of you. You have a demanding, but productive and rewarding, time ahead of you.
So what can Luke, Hannah, Rob, and Anna expect over the next year? First, they will be digesting some induction guides, whose main purpose is to set out how the DTB operates. They will be getting a briefing on the “hot topics” they will be involved with from day one. It’s no surprise that the new stadium will feature, but they’ll also need to get up to speed with other issues.
Next, in common with the rest of the DTB, there will be some start-of-the-year activities: appointing officers, deciding roles and responsibilities (including who sits on which committees, if we decide to continue with that approach) and agreeing priorities for 2019. I look forward to hearing a fresh perspective on priorities from the newcomers after their engagement with members during the election.
I confidently predict that my new colleagues will get little breathing space from the election campaign trail before they are launched into the white-knuckle ride of the Dons Trust roller-coaster, with all the thrills and spills that 2019 promises to offer. A roller-coaster may seem an odd analogy for a board that has a predictable pattern of meetings throughout the year. But the worlds of football and stadium development are fast-moving, and we remain a young organisation that still lacks the infrastructure, the workforce and, frankly, the cash to cushion some of the bumps.
I have no doubt that in January we will come up with an ambitious, well-reasoned set of priorities for 2019 – stadium consultations, improving communications, an updated strategy and succession planning may all feature on our wish list. And then, as ever, we will find some unexpected challenges, or expected challenges that come along in the wrong order. Rest assured, we will rise to those challenges. And we will no doubt make some pragmatic compromises on our ambitions along the way.
The thing I know Luke, Hannah, Rob and Anna will bring to the board, just like all their predecessors, will be an unswerving commitment to make things better for you, our members. They will have some knotty problems to sort out, and at times they will be forced to wrestle with their consciences and apply their best judgment on your behalf. Often, they will want more information or time than are available to make those decisions. And there will be occasions, infuriatingly, when confidentiality prevents them from sharing some of their reasoning with you. Sometimes that can be quite hard.