Guernsey Touch sports team has a new chair and a new committee.
Hannah Dunnell has taken on the role of chair from Ollie Ward, who steps down after 18 years on the committee. She is joined by vice chair Gemma Langlois, treasurer Tom Zierer, who replaces Mark Bristowe, coaching director Garth Owen, referee director Dave Strawbridge and social secretary and head of fundraising Chrissie Ferbrache. Jacques Le Vallee and Seb King also stood down at the recent AGM.
Ollie Ward said: “After joining the committee in 2005, I had said my intention would be to hand over the reins in 2020 but the impact of Covid on the sport meant it wasn’t the right time and as a committee we wanted to get back to pre-pandemic normality with mixed, men’s, women’s and business divisions in the summer league, tournaments and the inter-insular. Most of that has been achieved and so I am delighted to be handing over the chair role to Hannah, who is joined on the committee by some long-standing and passionate players.
“It’s hard to believe it has been 18 years but the sport is in a really good place. We have stable numbers in the leagues, we have a long-standing sponsor in KPMG, which, as anyone involved in sport knows, is as important as players and volunteers, we have a home at Port Soif and this year we finally won the inter-insular! I won’t be going far and hopefully there are a few more years left on the pitch for me.”
Hannah Dunnell is no stranger to touch having played for more than a decade and been selected for the island team for nine years, including six years as captain of the ladies team. Having played for a number of different league teams over the years, she now plays for both KPMG mixed and KPMG ladies. She said: “It’s a privilege to be elected as chair of Guernsey Touch and I am looking forward to continuing the amazing work of Ollie and the previous committees. Ollie is undoubtedly Mr Touch and the sport owes him an enormous debt of gratitude.
“He took over the role of chair from his partner Katrina [Bray] in 2015 so as a unit they gave nearly 30 years and have been integral to the growth of the sport. The Guernsey Touch community is eternally grateful for the joint contribution they have both made to the sport, which undoubtedly would not exist in Guernsey without them and so we extend our wholesome thanks.
“But I have a great committee and that will be invaluable as we move forward. Despite running smaller leagues in 2020 and 2021, which impacted income, we didn’t travel off-island and so we are in a healthy financial position thanks to the incredible hard work of outgoing treasurer Mark Bristowe. That’s a great place to be in as I know players are really keen to start travelling and representing their island at a European level.”
Hannah said the focus over the winter would be to look at island training, making sure the leagues offer players the level and type of competition they want, train referees and recruit additional committee members. She explained: “Officials and volunteers are vital to any sport and touch is no different. We need players, particularly those who have enjoyed the sport for many years, to get involved and give back so that more islanders can join in, we can create a pathway for younger players and we can continue growing the popularity and success of Guernsey Touch.”