General Sir Patrick Sanders KCB CBE DSO ADC Gen
President UK Armed Forces Winter Sports Association
Winter Season 2023/2024
It is my very great pleasure to write the foreword for the 2023/2024 Season of the Armed Forces Winter Sports Association yearbook. As I approach the end of my Army service, I feel incredibly fortunate to have served you as President. It has been a privilege to witness our very best winter sports athletes show real courage, pushing themselves beyond excellence, as well as being able to offer winter sports to those for the first time who would never have otherwise had a chance to participate. Winter sports develops teamwork, moral and physical courage as well as giving our service personnel a welcome change from the battle rhythm of operations and deployment training.
I am enormously grateful for our sponsors, without whom it would not be possible. As inflation bites and the public sector and defence is squeezed to provide the best value for money for the taxpayer, being able to deliver these opportunities to our service personnel is even more precious. At the time of writing, the committee are working hard to secure sponsorship for the upcoming season.
In the last year we have seen post-Covid winter sports come back with a bang. In April, the Armed Forces Snowboarding team competed at the Brit Championships in the Cairngorms and put in an excellent performance with several podium places. I was also delighted that our Alpine and snowboarding teams travelled all the way to the Blue Mountains to compete in the Australian Defence Force Championships, we look forward to reciprocating in February when the ADF compete in Méribel.
After the disruption of Covid and resorts hosting world cup events, this year’s calendar has finally settled on the coming season. The Ice Sports Championships will be heading to St Moritz, the Inter-Services Nordic Championships will again be in Ruhpolding and the Snow Sports Championships will be returning to Méribel where we will welcome our Royal Patron, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh.
This all represents an enormous amount of work on the part of the various organising committees, and this foreword should record some special thanks on behalf of all of us who benefit from the efforts of some outstanding individuals. To Major General Jez Bennett who has been appointed Vice Chair of the Association; to Commodore Richard Winter who has now left the Service – thank you for everything you have done for winter sports – and the very best of luck to his successor Commodore Rich Harris, the new Chair of the Association. We also say thank you and farewell to Air Commodore Dave Tozer who has handed over the reins of the ISSSC Directorship to Brigadier Chris Haw MC; and 2023 will be the last year for Commodore Jol Woodard as a Trustee, he will hand over to Captain Tim Davey (RN). I am also grateful for Commander Nicky Cullen who is stepping down as Director of Media and Squadron Leader Heather Ratnage-Black as she hands over as Director Ice Sports. I am sure I speak for all of us in Armed Forces Winter Sports as I say a huge thank you to them all for playing such crucial roles in keeping winter sports alive and well.
Thank you to all who help make winter sports a fantastic opportunity that we can continue to offer our people.