Three new members appointed to RYA Northern Ireland Board

Gavin Nelson, Owen Waters and Linda MacHugh have recently joined and will help to deliver the aims of the ‘Navigating the Future’ strategy. In a new online series, each of the Board Members will be talking about their experience and goals for the years ahead.
29 Sep 23
Gavin Nelson
Profile on Gavin Nelson

Gavin Nelson has spent two decades working in the community and voluntary sector in NI, England and America and has worked professionally for some of the National Governing Bodies of Sport. He tells us a bit about his experience and his motivation for joining the RYANI Board…

Could you tell us a bit about your work life and experience?

I have over two decades working in the community and voluntary sector across Northern Ireland, England, and America. I currently hold the position of Chief Operating Officer at Third Sector Connect where I support community groups, charities, sports organisations, and councils with a variety of projects including developing strategies and action plans, accessing funding and training and development.

I have over 12 years’ experience working for National Governing Bodies of Sport, in my previous role I was Business Manager at the Irish Football Association and before that I spent eight years at the English Football Association leading on community development programmes. 

I have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Ulster University and a BA Hons in Sports Development. I am also part of the Ulster University 25@25 Leadership Programme.

What was your motivation for joining the RYA Northern Ireland Board?

I believe in the importance of volunteering, I have volunteered in a variety of roles since the age of 16 years old, these have included as the chair of an inclusion advisory group, independent committee member, director of development and coach. I am also on the board of a community development charity.

What do you hope to achieve? 

As part of my role, I hope to support Greg, Susan and the rest of the board to grow the sport and help develop the systems and process for clubs. Using my experience, I hope to help attract more investment to the sport through various funding streams. Also, having led on a number of club and volunteer projects through my various roles I hope to provide advice and assistance to the staff of RYA NI where and when I can.

What are you most looking forward to in your role?

Having attended a few meetings already, I'm excited about the opportunity to contribute my experience and expertise to helping the board lead on the organisation’s strategy. I look forward to actively participating in helping to shape the organisations strategic direction and numerous projects and programmes. I'm also looking forward to collaborating with other members of the board and learning from them as I believe that diverse perspectives and insights will lead us to becoming more innovative.

What would you say your biggest priority is as a Board Member? 

The priority for me is for us as an organisation to continue to effectively support clubs and volunteers. By empowering them and supporting them with the right resources and learning opportunities the sport will flourish.