From the end of March, Anne Garnish and Martin Chester will be moving on to new adventures. Our recent newsletter refers. As reported in it, there's been a recognition of a need for full time 5 day a week support and decision making capacity. Martin and Anne have been fully supportive of these changes and have spent time over recent months creating a solid framework and structure for the future. You will also note from our last newsletter that we're recruiting for a full time Managing Director imminently - details to be published in the coming days.

We couldn't let them leave without giving them both a big thank you for all of their work for the schemes over the years. We'd also like to thank Andrea Hawkins and Tim Miller who have supported the schemes in recent months, Tim remaining a member of our Coach Development Team.

From my perspective, I am personally grateful for the fact that Anne introduced me to NICAS back in 2014. She has of course been part of NICAS since the start and she’s worked tirelessly on the scheme admin, finance, managing many of the processes and scheme updates, and a key contact for people across NICAS walls and wider.

Martin has been Executive Officer since 2014 and on one day a week has done much to drive the schemes. He has been very involved in collaborating with partners and in taking forward work with funding bodies. It's been great working with Martin and I wish him well for his new adventures.

On behalf of the team here, including our Board of Trustees, I'd like to say a big thank you and best of luck for the future! I asked for some quotes from three key people who've worked closely with them over the years, and the responses sum up their involvement and input nicely.

Thank you Martin and Anne, and good luck for the future! Abbi (Abbi Blakey, Membership Manager)

Anne Guy Jarvis, Executive Officer, Mountain Training England and former ABCTT Executive Officer: Anne and I first met when she was the office manager at Undercover Rock where the NICAS scheme was first devised around 15 years ago. She was involved in the earliest developments of the NICAS scheme when it was originally called NCWAS (catchy name!) and ran as a pilot in 10 ABC walls. The ABCTT was then incorporated in February 2008 and Anne was involved from the beginning, eventually leaving UCR and setting herself up as the administrative engine of the organisation. Since then the ABCTT has grown from strength to strength, raising the standards of climbing coaching across the country and inspiring thousands of young people to develop their skills. Without Anne this simply would not have happened. She always kept the wheels on a fast moving bus, with her phenomenal work rate and eye for detail. The secret weapon in our otherwise very amateur, low resourced, start up!

As complete opposites; we had a wonderfully productive and complementary working relationship together. We could disagree with complete trust and respect for each other – the greatest sign of her professional approach. Her dedication and commitment was obvious to all who worked with her. Anne always threw herself into everything 110% - including the mud on her infamous runs or off the track at over 100mph on her terrifying side car races. She will be much missed from the organisation and by me personally, though her legacy clearly lives on and I’m sure we’ll continue to gossip on the phone!

Thank you Anne.

Brian McAlinden, Manager, HarroWall. Ex-trustee/ex-acting Executive Officer: To say Anne has been a defining part of the success of NICAS is to undersell her importance to the charity. She has been an integral part of a small team that has helped introduce climbing to so many. She has helped countless trustees, officers and wall staff understand NICAS and has helped it to continue to have a solid base from which it has grown. Anne's knowledge, passion and drive will be sorely missed.

John Roberts, Vice President of the BMC. Ex-trustee and former Chair of the ABCTT: Anne has has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the climbing walls, the key people in the sector, the schemes, and the history of the NICAS schemes. Anne was a great source of support and help during my tenure as a Chair, and it would have been a real challenge without her. Thank you.

Martin Guy Jarvis, Executive Officer, Mountain Training England and former ABCTT Executive Officer: I feel somewhat guilty thanking Martin for his time at the helm of the ABCTT. Five years ago I handed over the Executive Officer position of the organisation, telling him that he had one day a week to fulfil it! In hindsight this seems rather cruel! If vision was required for this job, and it was, Martin had a cosmic gaze. Martin’s energy and enthusiasm is legendary and he set about putting the organisation on a far more structured footing, sorting out a raft of difficult housekeeping issues including quality assurance and the finances, to put the charity on a solid footing for the future. All the while he had a clear eye for the ABCTT’s potential with a well worked out strategy that carried all along with him.

Under Martin the ABCTT has become a professionally run, well governed organisation that is fit for the future. Martin was able to raise the standing of the organisation and its schemes through his reforms and prolific connections within the climbing sector. An inspirational leader, Martin has propelled the organisation forward during his tenure. His successful battle with cancer would be enough for anyone to take stock, though he continued to work all the way through it. Martin is happiest in the mountains and I wish him every success there, but his insight and injection into the climbing wall world has left a permanent quality mark.

Cheers Martin; allez!

Brian McAlinden, Manager, HarroWall. Ex-trustee/ex-acting Executive Officer: Martin has been a phenomenal asset to NICAS and it will be near impossible to replace his abilities that he brought to the charity. He has accomplished so much in so little time and has constantly given more than was ever thought possible in helping to drive the scheme and charity forward. He has helped modernise and reshape the charity structure and schemes for a modern indoor climbing wall and leaves behind an incredible legacy. He will be sorely missed by all who has worked on NICAS.

John Roberts, Vice President of the BMC. Ex-trustee and former Chair of the ABCTT: NICAS owes a debt of gratitude to Martin, who has overseen the NICAS schemes through many good, and some challenging times. It simply wouldn’t have had the success it has been without his efforts, and I was constantly amazed at how much got done, on one day per week! During my tenure as Chair, Martin it was great to have Martin as the CEO, and to work together to tackle the challenges with NICAS and build up the schemes to their successes. Good luck for the future!

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