British Equestrian (BEF) has named its new Chief Executive, with former rugby boss Jim Eyre taking over the role from April 6. He takes over from Iain Graham, who has been in the role on an interim basis since October 2019.
Eyre joins equestrian sport from the world of rugby, where he spent more than five years with Premiership team Harlequins FC, initially as Commercial Operations Director before promotion to Chief Operating Officer, a position he held for three years. Eyre oversaw the operational delivery of all aspects of the club’s stadium and was instrumental in delivering key projects including building the Community Department, developing The Harlequins Foundation, building the club’s woman and girls programme to create a pathway from grassroots to elite international rugby, and diversification of the venue to drive revenue.
Eyre said he was “thrilled and honoured” by the appointment.
“It is clear that there are as many challenges as there are opportunities, and a key focus must be to help the sector recover from Covid-19, as well as to minimise the impact of Brexit. Looking forward to the summer, with the pandemic hopefully behind us and the delayed Tokyo Games under way, it should be a hugely exciting time for the sport and industry,” he said.
Having grown up in Lambourn Valley, equestrian pursuits featured heavily in Eyre’s youth and he was an avid Pony Club member, taking part in a wide variety of disciplines. He went on to join the Army, where his horsemanship focus changed considerably and leadership skills flourished with responsibility for various sized teams, regularly in complex and high-pressure operational environments.
Before joining Harlequins, Eyre spent 25 years in the military in a variety of roles including Squadron Leader of the Blues and Royals Mounted Squadron and Commanding Officer of The Household Cavalry Regiment. His current role is with England Rugby as a Project Officer to spearhead the sport’s Covid recovery programme and help Premiership clubs to comply with guidance and legislation in order for the sport to continue.
Eyre will formally start his role on April 6 and Interim Chief Executive Iain Graham will continue to provide overarching support for the World Class Programme. Graham will work with Performance Director Richard Waygood and his team to best prepare athletes to compete at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games alongside his role as CEO for British Showjumping.
Interim chairman steps into permanent role
Malcolm Wharton CBE has been formally appointed Chairman of British Equestrian for a four-year term after serving in on an interim basis since October 2019.
Wharton, working closely with Iain Graham, has provided strong leadership and direction for British Equestrian and has managed the organisation through the Covid crisis, providing stability and playing an essential part of securing funding for the Paris Olympic and Paralympic cycle. Having a shared love of rugby, Wharton and Eyre will work with the team to turn strategy into operational execution for the benefit of all stakeholders.
“While Covid and post-Brexit issues are still a primary concern, we can now look forward with a sense of optimism and an exciting new chapter,” Wharton said.
He thanked Graham for his efforts to bring stability to the organisation. “He’s cleared a huge backlog of outstanding business whilst juggling the impact of the pandemic, the complexity of Brexit and his role at British Showjumping.”