I’m delighted to have been chosen as the Owner’s Rep on the GBGB Board – a big thank you to everyone who voted for me. I am acutely aware that both myself and Trainer’s Rep Peter Harnden have a big job ahead of us to represent the interests of both owners and trainers, and to attempt to make an impact on a board which many of you have been frustrated with in recent years.

I attended my first Board meeting last week. It was quite a meeting because as many of you will know CEO Barry Faulkner announced he will be retiring at the end of the year. And of course Tom Kelly stood down only a few weeks ago so two high profile vacancies need to be filled. Peter an I  will have the opportunity to input into the profile of the candidate(s) as part of the recruitment process and I for one will be recommending that vision, strategic thinking and experience of modern day leisure / sport should be high on the list. My initial observations are that the board serves the sport pretty well from an integrity and regulatory point of view, but with the right candidates there is a real opportunity for the board to be more visionary, innovative and commercial. This is a real opportunity for a new strategic plan to be created. It’s now or never.

I am trying to meet as many owners and stakeholders as I can over the coming weeks, and doing my best to fit this in to a busy personal schedule. It is a pretty complex sport and I have always said I have a lot to learn about in a short space of time. I’m back at the GBGB offices this week and intend to spend a few hours getting my head round all the commercial elements of the sport.

As mentioned in my manifesto, I will be putting together an Innovation Panel of 7/8 people. My intention is to assemble a group who I consider to be knowledgeable, ideas orientated and experienced in different areas of greyhound racing. This group will meet 3 times a year and discuss big ideas for change. I will present the best ideas to the Board and of course share any ideas we like with the greyhound community for feedback. This is an informal group and there are no politics involved in who I will be asking to assist me. I’m speaking to some possible members over the coming week or so, and my intention is for it to commence in July and be fluid so over time the individuals may change and I may seek specialist advice in certain areas.

In addition I will be looking for 6 owners to be my regional reps so that I can have some eyes and ears on the ground in each region. I’m looking for owners who are familiar faces in their area and who are keen to have a regular presence at tracks in their region. My intent is for the 7 of us to meet face to face twice a year (I’m hoping to be able to cover basic expenses), and each rep to give me regular feedback, ideas and requests which I can then take forward to the Board or sub committees as appropriate. I am meeting a couple of possible owner reps this week but anyone who fancies getting involved please drop me a note.

I’m also meeting Bob Boswell this week. I’m really hoping Bob can be heavily involved, particularly in all issues relating to welfare. He is a real expert in this important area.

I had considered commissioning an owner’s survey but I have been shown one that was conducted in 2013. I will review the results but possibly a more effective medium for current ideas is social media. I have collated many of the ideas shared in recent weeks by owners on Facebook etc. and I will ensure some of these are debated when my panel get together in July. This will probably be the best way to filter them.

In terms of communications, I will be provided with  a blog page on the GBGB website sometime soon. I also intend to do a regular note on Greyhound Star so I’m hoping owners will be happy that they receive regular updates from me, and have an opportunity to raise issues specific to them via the regional reps.

Incidentally – it was great to see Zoe Hadland on RPGTV the other evening talking about her ideas for an apprentice scheme for the industry. I’ve been in touch with Barry Faulkner and he assures me he’s investigating the idea. Hats off to Zoe for being so proactive – we really must support people with such energy and enthusiasm.

That’s it from me for now. I hope to see some of you at Towcester for the Derby in the next few weeks.