Mark Lillie, Mark Davies and Alison Odell CBE recently stepped down from SportsAid’s Board of Trustees after making invaluable contributions to the charity for more than a decade. Lillie will be succeeded by Mike Westcott as the Chair of SportsAid. Westcott, who is Group HR Director for National Grid, became a Trustee in June 2017. He steps into the role vacated by Lillie with a highly impressive track record and a broad range of experience. Westcott also has a personal connection to SportsAid through his family. His nephew was previously supported by the charity as a member of the British Canoeing junior set-up.
“I am so proud of how SportsAid has evolved and grown over the years,” reflected Lillie on his long-standing association. “When I first became a Trustee back in 2006 we were somewhat fragile in terms of our finances and brand. We are now very strong financially, have outstanding governance and controls and a unique brand in multi-sport development and recognition. This helps Tim [Lawler] and the incredible SportsAid team focus on the core work of the charity, namely funding and recognising the 1000's of sports stars of tomorrow today.
“Since 2012, and in my time as Chair, the team has created many differentiating assets and experiences for the charity such as SportsAid Week, the SportsAid Fellowship, the Backing The Best programme, which exclusively focuses on those that need more financial support, and the ongoing, incredibly important Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) that uniquely recognises the dual-career prospects of athletes with further education. I am so excited for the future of SportsAid and most importantly the athletes and families it supports.”
Lillie, Davies and Odell have all enjoyed lengthy and extremely productive tenures with SportsAid. They brought outstanding expertise, particularly in their respective fields, to the Board, as well as acting as a soundboard for Tim Lawler, the charity’s Chief Executive, over the years. Lillie, who is a Senior Partner at Deloitte UK, saw his relationship with SportsAid begin in 2004 when he was involved in London’s bid for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He became a Trustee of SportsAid in 2006 and latterly chaired the charity’s Audit and Risk Committee before becoming Chair of the Board.
“I love sport and believe passionately that it can almost uniquely change lives for the positive - especially for young people,” said Lillie. “My journey with SportsAid started from involvement with the London Olympic bid and a belief that it was about much more than building the venues but understanding where the source of our sporting heroes of 2012 would come from. SportsAid is the first organisation that recognises very high potential sports people. After mum and dad this is vital in keeping these athletes in sport.
“Providing funding is crucial but more importantly building their confidence through recognition. Meeting with many of these young athletes and their parents over the years at SportsAid workshops, and then seeing some of them compete in London 2012, was extraordinary. We would not have loved the Games as much if Britain hadn't done so well in the medal table! SportsAid played a crucial formative role on the talent pathway, and seeing that come together in 2012, and the euphoria of our nation, was my highlight.”
Davies is Chair of Archery GB and British Rowing. He was a member of the founding management team of Betfair where he spent 10 years managing its growing profile and reputation. This is where Davies initially came into contact with the charity. He helped Betfair identify SportsAid as its Charity of the Year in 2007 and 2008, and the company remained a supporting partner until 2011, with many events, including the annual Sports Quiz, receiving its ongoing backing.
“We were all struck by the fact that this was a small charity whose team were full of ideas about how we could get involved and how we could engage our staff in what they were doing,” said Davies. “We felt we could really be close to the tangible difference we were going to make. We could follow the people we were helping and we knew that what we were adding was giving them a boost. We were still doing things with SportsAid seven years later, and from a personal point of view, I’ve stepped away after 12!
“I think the key difference - and I am delighted by this particular development - is that we put more of a focus on athletes who might genuinely not still be in the sport without our help,” commented Davies. “I always used to say that if my daughter became the country’s leading gymnast, I wanted it to be because she was better than everyone else - not because the competition had fallen by the wayside due to the costs of staying the course. In Backing The Best, we make sure that we keep people on the pathway.”
Odell has been the Chair of Sport England TASS, managed and overseen by SportsAid, for 10 years. She leaves a lasting legacy in the impact being made through TASS in creating opportunities for student-athletes pursuing academic and sporting careers. She is also a Director of Badminton England and Chair of its Performance Board, Chair of the British Universities and College Sport (BUCS) International Advisory Group, and an Honorary Member of the International Federation of University Sport (FISU) since 2017. She retired as Director of Sport at the University of Manchester in 2013.
“We owe Mark, Alison and Mark a great deal,” said Tim. “They have stepped up and delivered for SportsAid over many years and each has made a huge contribution to the development and growth of the charity during their tenure. In many ways it is a testament to their efforts that SportsAid can manage the departure of such brilliant people from the Board and still feel confident about its future. On a personal note, I would like to thank each of them for their sound advice and encouragement and on behalf of everyone at SportsAid, we thank them and wish them well. I do hope they’ll remain friends of SportsAid.”
Over the next couple of years SportsAid will be seeking to recruit new trustees to lead on and develop the charity’s work helping the next generation of British sporting talent. Please keep an eye on www.sportsaid.org.uk and the charity’s social media channels for upcoming announcements.