A month after his election, we caught up with Scott to find out a little bit more about him, about his new role at the BMC, and about what the BMC is up to at the moment.
Jack: I read that your first route was Flying Buttress on the Cromlech back in 1968. That's quite some time ago now. After quite a few years on the rock, how would you say climbing has affected and influenced your life
Scott Titt: Climbing has been an integral part of my life for so long it is hard to separate out the influences from the totality, however one thing is certain - it is where most of my money went!
Jack: And how long have you been involved with the BMC, and in what capacity?
Scott Titt: I first attended Area Committees (as they were then called) in the early '70's as a club rep for the long defunct Swanage Climbing Club. I was for a time the Swanage access rep (Skeleton Ridge access was probably the trickiest job I had). After a spell working abroad I represented the Wessex Mountaineering club at the Area meeting (as they are now called) and went on to become the SW Area rep to BMC National Council (the policy making body for the BMC). National Council were kind enough to propose me as a member of the Executive (the management committee of the BMC), and later as Vice President.
Jack: And what has driven you to be involved with the BMC?
Scott Titt: I have always believed in the value of a National Representative Body acting on our behalf, to make sure it was democratic I got involved. The value of the gains a national body can achieve were brought home when climbing was include as "quiet enjoyment of the countryside" under CROW ( The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000); this has given climbers the right to climb at some amazing sites, Lulworth being a prime example.
Jack: What exactly is your role at the BMC?
Scott Titt: Fortunately I have been given a job description! My main jobs are to chair meetings, achieve harmony and effectiveness, and represent the BMC.
Jack: And after 44 years of climbing and 40 years of being involved with the BMC, what has changed over that time in both climbing and in the BMC?
Scott Titt: Lots! - Or perhaps "nearly everything".
When I started, higher grade climbing was only available to a very small minority (of mainly males) who had the iron nerves and steely determination to ignore the all too real risks of the sport; higher grade climbing is now accessible to all sections of the population in a safer and less mentally challenging way.
And the BMC has gone from being a grouping of climbing clubs to an effective national body challenging itself to represent all mountaineers, hill walkers and climbers.
Jack: What, in your opinion, is the single most important thing that the BMC does?
Scott Titt: In our members' opinion access is the most important thing we do, I echo that view.
Jack: Last winter I spoke briefly to Dave Turnbull about the relaunch of the Access and Conservation Trust (ACT) - how is that going? Could we get an update on how successful the fund has been since the relaunch - projects completed, increase in funds, that sort of thing?
Scott Titt: With regard to ACT, I spoke to Cath Flitcroft (Access & Conservation Officer)
and this is what she said:
"Since the re-launch of ACT our individual donations have increased slightly (with the new 'donate now' facility on the web) and we are busy identifying big, visible projects to fund this year. We have just agreed to fund the Avon Gorge Climbing Regeneration project and it is very likely that we will fund significant path repair work at various locations across England and Wales (we have been in discussion with various partners like the National Trust, National Parks and the RSPB and are busy putting together details for a number of applications). This year we have already helped the Brecon Beacons National Park with footpath repair work on the Black Mountain."
Jack: One of the top news items on the recently revamped BMC Website is: climbing-wall-death-due-to-knot-failure - which is a news piece about the death of a climber at an indoor wall. I understand that the BMC has kept an accident database on climbing wall incidents since 2002. Are there any plans to do anything with this data?
Scott Titt: Ed Douglas has consulted with Rob Adie (Climbing Walls & Competitions Officer) about the walls question, and this is Rob's reply:
"We are currently working with Duncan Martin from Liverpool John Moores University who is helping us analyse and make some useful conclusions of the information held in the database, since it was re-designed in 2008. We hope to present our findings at the BMC Climbing Wall Managers seminar in October. This seminar will be aimed at small walls in schools and leisure centres, which we hope to give lots of information on how to get more out of their walls and give a better level of service to their customers.
The data that was in the database between 2002 and 2008 was analysed by myself and presented in the 2008 edition of the BMC climbing wall manual, however there was not a huge amount of ground breaking conclusions I could draw from it, as there was no user figures to go along with the data, as walls had not been using the database properly. When we re-designed the database we made it compulsory to enter user figures and made it completely anonymous, so hopefully walls will have been using it properly over the last few years and we should get some useful data out of it."
Jack: What projects are you currently involved with at the BMC?
Scott Titt: I have enough on my plate without any projects, but on the back burner is the introduction of composting toilets to some crags - Horseshoe perhaps?
Jack: And finally, if you had one piece of advice to give to less experienced climbers, what would it be?
Scott Titt: Join a club. The depth of knowledge and experience found in clubs, coupled with the meet and transport arrangements and the wide reaching contacts is beyond price. Club subscriptions are one of the secret bargains of the climbing world.
Jack: Thanks Scott - good luck as President!
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