It is a very great pleasure to return to the fold of the Armed Forces Winter Sports Association after a two season absence, now as the Chairman of the Association and the trustees of the charity. It is a real privilege to be considered fit to be elected as such. There are so many reasons why this organisation is simply wonderful, and it is a huge credit to the ethos of the Armed Forces that we run such high quality competitive events from part time, usually personal spare time, effort. Having started as ISSSC Secretary in 2008 I know there are plenty of less glamorous jobs than medal presenting in the sunshine that have to be done to make the events happen, and I thank all of those who continue to do them diligently and with great commitment, and hopefully doing those jobs in the Alps does at least lessen the pain.The most significant privilege of being a part of the Association again is to be able to support Service athletes, both able bodied and Paralympic, regulars and reserves, often from allied nations as well as the UK’s Armed Forces. None of us joined up, I think, to ski, ride or slide in the Alps. But I know that the athletes are all grateful that our respective Services and our immensely generous and committed sponsors continue to give us the chance to do so. All of us who have ever stood in a starting gate (Ed – some time ago for some
!) with a bib on, or at the top of a track, listening to the beep beep beeeep, will have felt the sense of excitement, the rush of adrenaline, the desire to prove ourselves, ready to push just a little bit harder this time… to shave a few more tenths off…
That sense of wanting to push a bit harder, to take a risk and be rewarded for it or to crash trying, to stretch oneself a little bit further out of the comfort zone, that is what these sports do for the athletes as Service personnel. They create a competitive will to win, an overcoming of self-imposed limits and of an inner ability to improve self-performance. That develops slowly, practise by practise and race by race, after a fall or crash, despite disappointment and injury, with grit and determination to try again, time after time. And that is what, in very different circumstances, gives us fighting edge.
As we stand this season on the slopes or at the top of a course or track, ready to push a sled or burst out of the gate or across a start line, whether as sponsor, racer, hill team official, committee helper or as a supporting VIP, we are all part of something that is really exceptional, and which deserves to prosper. I thank you for your support, commit to be a dedicated Chairman to this fantastic Association, and wish you all a very good season of snow and ice sports in 2019.