Polly Handford appointed to the RYA Board

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has today announced the appointment of Polly Handford, the Football Association’s highly regarded director of legal and governance, as a non-executive director of its Board.

The role of the RYA Board is to supervise the management of the Association’s business and to discharge the responsibilities of the directors under the Companies Act and in compliance with the Code for Sports Governance, which sets out the levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity that are required from those bodies that receive Government and National Lottery Funding. 

Grassroot Journey

Having grown up on the South Coast, Polly spent her childhood sailing dinghies (Toppers, Mirrors, Wayfarers and Larks) in the beautiful location of Chichester Harbour and was a member of her local sailing clubs in both West Wittering and Chichester. She then continued to progress her sailing skills and go on to successfully make the University sailing team in Bristol.

Commenting on her appointment, Polly said: “Both from growing up in grassroots sailing and through my work with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and more latterly the Football Association (FA), I am aware of just how important it is to grow and sustain healthy grassroots clubs.

“I’ve been practising law for 24 years, and for over half of that time, I have practised in the field of sport regulation. During that time, I have strived to ensure that sport is inclusive and safe and that its regulations are robust and fair.

“It’s crucial to ensure that we take responsibility for making changes where possible to enable others to be successful and to lead everyone engaged in sport to welcome the diversity that enriches all of our lives.”

Future vision

Chris Preston, RYA Chair, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Polly to the RYA Board. Her vast knowledge and experience in the sporting sector will be invaluable as we work towards delivering our new strategy, which will define the future direction of the RYA.

“Having already met with the RYA Board members, Polly will officially join the team from 1 March 2023. All the RYA team are very much looking forward to working with Polly to support safe and rewarding boating and to inspire more people to take part in and enjoy the benefits of being on water.”

Polly concluded: “It’s an exciting time to be joining the RYA Board and I look forward to helping to deliver the new strategy.”

The RYA will look to select another non-executive director later this year, with RYA members having the casting vote.

Find out more about the RYA Board.

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