Several clubs and centres sent more than one committee member to the 2022 SW Affiliated Clubs Conference (ACC) and gained significant benefits.
Adrian Kemp is Commodore of Plymouth Youth Sailing, a club and RYA Training Centre, at the Mount Batten Centre (MBC). He attended the ACC with John Fox, Vice Chairman of the PYS Management Committee and a volunteer since the 1980s, and Mel Severe, a new staff instructor who recently completed an apprenticeship at MBC.
“Over the years, I’ve always valued networking gatherings where we learn from others and share what we do,” explained Adrian. “We’ll always turn up mob-handed if it benefits us to do so! The ACC has always been very important. Sometimes, even when the workshops haven’t looked relevant to us, the value has been in the networking. When I saw the agenda for this one, I could see a number of things appropriate for the club to be involved in, so I thought about who else it would be good to get there.
“John takes a lead role in managing volunteers, I look after the finances and Mel does a lot of the direct delivery of training, so we each signed up for a workshop relevant to our roles. We all sat with others from our workshops, not together, at lunchtime, to further the discussion. And, in fact, there were three other delegates at the ACC who came with ‘other hats’ on, but have connections to PYS, so we were very well represented, and now we are sharing all that information with the committee, and other club members.”
Mel, at just 23, viewed the ACC from a different viewpoint, but came to similar conclusions. “I really enjoyed meeting new people from all sorts of different clubs – we know the local ones but don’t often talk to others in the region.
“I attended the workshop on how to keep your members engaged. At PYS we’re mostly youth based, very niche, with youngsters not normally able to go sailing, but everyone had a different perspective, and all were happy to talk and share. In the afternoon, the session focused on equality and diversity and was good to meet Disability Development Officer Leon Ward and put a face to the name. It’s great to go to events like this and get to know the people behind the emails!
“There were definitely more males than females at the conference, but from what I could see, the women who were there weren’t afraid of talking, and were quite happy to share their experiences and opinions, which made me more comfortable talking too.
“I came away knowing that I can contact the people from the RYA team if I have questions, and the networking parts made me comfortable talking to other people in a ‘safe environment’ rather than a competitive one like a race event.”
Both Adrian and Mel commented that while the networking was essential and effective, it made the workshop schedule very tight, with people trying to get through a lot in each session. RDO Rob Howlett, who organises the ACC, explains the rationale: “It’s a fine balance between workshop time and networking time. We have improved the networking area and now have such a large team from many departments within the RYA it has made the balance even harder. We know people have to travel a fair distance to get to and from the event so try to keep the day to a sensible length without cutting any one section too short. I am already looking to see how we can stretch the day out a little in 2023 to allow as much workshop and networking time as possible. Look out for the changes in the 2023 agenda to create this.”