It is often said that volunteers are the lifeblood of sailing clubs, but at Teign Corinthian Yacht Club, they’ve actually gone above and beyond, raising funds, building a new clubhouse and designing the landscaping – saving many thousands of pounds. And now they’re enjoying the effect it’s having.
After years of intensive planning and fundraising by a team of volunteers, member James Stevenson, a retired builder, took on the job of demolishing the existing, outdated clubhouse and building the new two-storey replacement for the cost of the materials. Whilst he was aided on-site wherever possible by a team of volunteers, James spent the year of his 70th birthday working mainly on his own through the 2020 lockdowns. At the same time, there were onerous reporting and auditing requirements to fulfil, because much of the work was publicly funded, and a great deal of paperwork had to be completed by the team.
Ray Potter, Club President and one of the volunteer team, describes what happened: “We had some very dedicated volunteers working on this project in very difficult circumstances through lockdowns, also fulfilling their club roles as well as trying to keep boating going. It was a massive commitment and an enormous amount of work.”
Once the clubhouse was complete, the team decided to go on, raising more funds to landscape the site which was basically an area of rubble. Member Megan Isaac volunteered to draw up the landscaping scheme. Now this completely new area of the site includes a professional area for working on the safety boats and an outdoor seating area where teaching can take place if restrictions return.
As the 2022 season begins, Ray is very optimistic about the changes the whole project has made: “We’re early days into the new season, but we’ve noticed the new building is much better for youth groups, because the space and the gender balance of changing rooms are much better. And because we now have a social area, we have people coming down to watch, so there are early indications of increased use of the building.”
James Stevenson was honoured last year with an RYA Lifetime Achievement Award, when his citation said that through his commitment, determination, vision and enormous effort the club has saved over £300,000 and opened a clubhouse worthy of the 21st century. The club has also honoured the entire volunteer team with a huge permanent poster on the clubhouse wall, picturing and naming them all.
Ben Miles, the club’s Rear Commodore Dinghies and the fundraising lead, adds his recognition of the importance of volunteers to club life: “I am the only one of the volunteer team who works full-time; the resource of retired members with the skills, experience and, most importantly, the time contributed to how we were able to build the facility. Every club will have retired members who I believe are looking for a project to get stuck into. These members are a hugely under-used resource. Very often they just need to be asked if they can help.”