It is set to be a big few weeks for the Foundation of Hearts following the announcement that pledgers have surpassed the £16million mark for funds raised and donated to Heart of Midlothian.

The milestone was confirmed on Sunday ahead of next month's AGM. Another date to keep an eye out for is Monday, November 27. The online ballot for members to vote for a new member to the organisation's board will be launched.

While Paul Cheshire is standing for re-election as a board member with a speciality on finance, there will be a vote on who replaces long-standing member Donald Cumming who has played a pivotal role in enabling the FOH to become majority shareholders. With legal backgrounds, Gary Cowen KC and Euan Tripp will stand for election. 

READ MORE: Exclusive: Foundation of Hearts hails 'amazing' pledges milestone

Foundation members will be asked to cast their vote with the announcement made at the AGM scheduled to be held on Thursday, December 14.

Hearts Standard caught up with both Gary and Euan this week ahead of the launch of the ballot to find out a bit more about them and why they have put themselves forward for election.

Euan Tripp

"As a lifelong Hearts fan and lawyer it just seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to try to give something back to the club. It’s something I have been very keen to go forward with."

Euan Tripp explained to Hearts Standard how the decision to make the step to stand for election arrived. With Donald Cumming stepping down it was the ideal time to combine his legal expertise and love of Hearts.

The 46-year-old has already sought out Cumming and picked his brain “as much to get a feel for what’s involved in the role and the background to it”. As well as their shared passion for Hearts they are also both corporate lawyers with Tripp, who has worked with football clubs in a professional capacity, a partner in the law firm Anderson Strathern LLP in Edinburgh, specialising in corporate and commercial law.

"It is the corporate law relationship between the Foundation and the club on one side and the members on the other, that’s why I do day-to-day," he explained. 

"I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Donald once I made the decision to go with it. In effect shadow him to some extent, learn the ropes a bit in terms of the background, some of the detail around corporate arrangements we’ve got. They have a seriously impressive board now. The guys who have been there have done a terrific job throughout and now with the likes of Gerry you’ve got some real big hitters on the board. I’d been keen to add my perspective to it all."

He added: "I am about in Edinburgh. I live and work in Edinburgh and I think I have got the opportunity to be a soundboard for fans and represent them."

READ MORE: What next for Foundation of Hearts: Pledge target, change, fan opinion

While Tripp believes he is best placed to step into Cumming's shoes as the legal expert on the Foundation of Hearts board, he also believes he can add value in a wider capacity and is really keen to "help influence strategy" and help push the club's majority shareholders onto greater things.

He was at the AGM when Chris Robinson proposed the move to Murrayfield so is fully aware that,with the Foundation, Hearts are in the possession of "something really special" compared to what is going on with ownership, especially in England. 

"You’ve got to take stock sometimes that we are in the best financial position we have been in in my lifetime but I know people can get sick of that after a while," he said. "But we shouldn’t lose sight of the achievement because it is a massive achievement to get where we’ve got to, fan owned, fan controlled and we are not going to be moving from Tynecastle

"We do need to come up with another purpose we can rally behind and really push the Foundation forward. That’s where I want to try and influence the board and the Foundation and I know it is something they are looking at and aware of as well. I think I can help with that."

Increased communication and engaging with the younger element of the Hearts fans base are areas Tripp views as key avenues for growth as the Foundation aims to increase pledgers significantly and raise upwards of £2million annually.

READ MORE: Foundation of Hearts to reveal new long-term strategy

"The communication is a key one.," he said. "From the outside looking in, frankly it has needed to improve. I think there is that recognition as well at the board level that they should be communicating more. They are doing a lot of good work behind the scenes, the family pledge sounds like a great thing. People need to hear about what the Foundation is doing to make it a stronger Foundation and a stronger foundation for the club going forward. I think we need to be more consistent and a lot more frequent with the communication.

"If we are genuinely listening to the fans and communicating to them how we are making a difference to the club positively then that’s really all we can do in ensuring we are fighting their corner. Everyone is a massive Hearts fan and wants Hearts to succeed. I think that human element can get lost as well."

He added: "We need to get that next generation coming through as well to ensure it is future proofed, it is lasting and means something to younger fans as well. It meant something to all of us when we all joined to save the club, that was huge and you hoped you wouldn’t get anywhere like that again. We do need to communicate better why this is so special within the Scottish and UK game and make it a differentiator to other clubs, actually bringing in that extra amount each month but also having that security you know the future of the club is going to be in."

Read Euan Tripp's Foundation of Hearts election address HERE.

Gary Cowen KC

Many Hearts fans will be familiar with Gary Cowen, even if they have never met him. The 55-year-old barrister who was appointed to the King's Counsel - then the Queen's Counsel - in 2020 has been a valued contributor to the Hearts matchday programme for the best part of 20 years and remains a key cog in the club producing one of the best programmes in Scottish football.

He has a passion for the club's history, amassing a collection of memorabilia with his current standout item being Alfie Conn's match-worn jersey from the 1956 Scottish Cup final. Conn scored in a 3-1 win over Celtic in front of more than 130,000 at Hampden Park. He is also currently writing two Hearts-related books.

However, he is keen to get "more involved with the Foundation" and help shape the future with the organisation.

"I thought this was a good way of getting more involved and seeing if this was something I could do with my background in advocacy to try and help the Foundation in improving communication and driving the message forwards for the future," Cowen, who lives and works in London specialising in property law, told Hearts Standard. "When I saw they were looking for a director with legal experience that obviously ticked the box as far as I was concerned."

Cowen, who is due to chat with Donald Cumming about the role this week, like Tripp, pinpointed the communication as something he would be keen to help improve, bringing the Foundation closer to the pledgers and fans and vice versa.

READ MORE: Exclusive: Foundation of Hearts chief on protests, decision making and board relationship

"One of the things that even the Foundation would accept is that their communication hasn’t been as good as it could be over the last couple of years," he said. "I certainly know speaking to other Hearts fans their frustrations at putting forward their views to the Foundation and getting nothing at all back.

"I think there are certain things the Foundation could be doing to make the fans feel a little bit more engaged. Everyone accepts the Foundation is doing amazing work and without the Foundation we wouldn’t have a club to support. They have done brilliantly at driving through the fan ownership. We have kind of moved onto the next step now, the next stage of its existence.

"The key question from the Foundation’s point of view is how do we keep those fans engaged? How do we ensure people are going to continue to pledge their hard-earned money. It seems to me that one of the key ways to do that is make the fans feel involved and that involves communication with the fans, telling them what’s going on with the Foundation and just ensuring it is a two way street and the Foundation is passing on the concerns of the fans of the club. Anything I can do to help that process along and I'm more than happy to do that if elected."

A tweak to the current Foundation model around volunteers was one possible suggestion as a way to improve that communication.

"The foundation is run by volunteers and that’s great and means more of the money which is pledged goes directly to the club and that’s what everybody wants," he said. "At the same time that has disadvantages because volunteers by definition are giving up their time and other things get in the way and you are only getting the time volunteers are putting into it.

"I think there is some scope for maybe looking into that and whether or not there is some other model which could be used to ensure the message is getting out there on a more regular basis and trying to put in place more of a two-way street in terms of communication."

Read Gary Cowen's election address HERE.