With the new membership year upon us, I wanted to contact you, as your Chair, and as a fellow skydiver to give you an update on what has been happening at British Skydiving.
To reassure you, Council held its second special weekly video meeting last weekend and we are determined to do the right thing for our members and our sport during the coronavirus crisis.
We know that some of our Affiliated Parachute Training Organisations are facing immediate financial difficulties because of a shortage of cash with no money coming in during isolation, whilst they still have substantial outgoings. Government, financial institutions and business support agencies have put in place a variety of schemes to help businesses. But some of our Affiliated PTOs have told us they face a short-term cash crisis and that, without immediate help, they will go out of business.
Council wants to help our Affiliated PTOs in any way within its powers. We want PTOs to survive the coronavirus crisis so they are there for our members, there for us all, when we all come out on the other side and jumping resumes. Council is therefore offering secured loans on a commercially suitable basis to those PTOs in the most immediate need. PTOs applying for an emergency loan will need to provide us with a business case to demonstrate the sound management and longer-term viability of their business. We will need to know what the loan will be used for.
We are urgently assessing how much cash British Skydiving has available for emergency loans. Our current understanding is that there may be five or six DZs that might need to apply. When we know the amount of cash we have available, the number of applications, and the amount of any such loans, we shall seek to match these together. This might sound complicated but as a business we are bound to follow a strict process of due diligence to ensure that any money we pay over, your money, is in the best interests of the sport and its members.
I should explain that the financial reserves that British Skydiving has built up over many years comprise a mixture of cash and investments of different durations, including some long-term. If we take out long-term investments early, where permitted, we shall be encashing it at or near the bottom of the market and may therefore realise substantial investment losses, receiving a significantly lower capital value than we put in.
Applications for emergency secured loans will be assessed for due diligence by Council, on the advice of a panel of Council Members and staff who are specialists in business and finance. We shall take external professional advice where necessary. We have asked those PTOs in most urgent need to contact us immediately. Our response will be in order of most urgent need, subject to due diligence. We believe this is Council doing the right thing.
On the subject of insurance, we have reached agreement that members who renew for the new membership year from 1 April will not be disadvantaged by the shutdown. Members who renew on time will have the duration of this enforced downtime discounted from their membership subscription for the next membership year, from 1 April next year, 2021. We encourage members to renew to help our cashflow which in turn will enable us to help those PTOs whose survival is under most urgent threat but we also understand if that is not possible for everyone.
We have reminded instructors and riggers who may continue to work at this time, of their need to maintain their membership in order to be covered by British Skydiving insurance. When I say instructors who may continue to work I’m talking about virtual, online instruction.
Our website and social media channels are a focus to help to keep the skydiving community together and engaged during these unprecedented times. The ‘social distance learning’ page on the British Skydiving website is a great example of this.
We are sorry that Joint Members are unable to renew online this year. As British Skydiving HQ is closed, with membership services staff working from home, we cannot process postal renewals. However, Joint Members who send us scans of your renewal forms and pay by bank transfer or card will be put on our membership database. Those Joint Members with ratings to renew will then be able to do so online.
The Skydive the Mag YouTube Channel, webinars and Facebook bonfires are examples of ways in which we can stay in touch with each other and engage with our sport. Talking of the Mag, the April issue has being substantially rewritten in part, to cover how we are coping and adapting as a skydiving community to there being, currently, no skydiving and is due to be mailed out to you all next week.
Towards the end of May, the International Skydiving Commission will review the position of the Mondial 2020 scheduled for August. Following the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics that were due to finish a few days before the start of the Mondial in Tanay, Russia, our British Skydiving delegation will, like the rest of us, await an announcement from ISC with much anticipation and great interest.
Council wants to do the right thing for all our stakeholders and has discussed more than I can cover here. Two British Skydiving staff who cannot work from home are currently furloughed but some who can work from home are working a seven-day week as we seek to put our responses in place to the coronavirus crisis. To all our staff, I say a huge thank you.
May I also thank my colleagues on Council for the resounding common sense of purpose and determination for British Skydiving to do the right thing. We are all pulling together at this unprecedented time of national and international crisis. At the beginning of the year, who could have imagined we would be where we are now?
So, we need your input as members: tell us your issues and concerns, let us have your questions. I will be conducting a live Facebook Q&A session this coming Friday at 8.30pm in https://www.facebook.com/BritishSkydiving/live/, I know there will be many questions that I have not raised here, let alone answered. Please look out for the event on the Facebook page and join me on Friday, we’ll do our very best to answer them and to help wherever we can.
We’re here to help, we’re here to keep our fantastic skydiving community together and we’re here to do the right thing.
Stay safe, stay home and look after your loved ones.
Chair of Council, British Skydiving