Energising Volunteers for 2020

Engaging session with RYA Scotland Volunteers
31 Jan 20

As we welcome the new board of directors (below) into their new roles we invited all volunteers connected with the activities of RYA Scotland for an information and networking afternoon ahead of the Annual Awards at the Falkirk Wheel.


The afternoon provided a great opportunity for staff and volunteers to share experiences and relate to the many varied aspects of boating interests from competitive sport to the recreational activity to set the scene for 2020.

The sessions highlighted the importance of connection and understanding of everyone’s part to play in the system, encouraging networking, friendship and support for the direction of RYA Scotland in 2020 and beyond!

CEO James Allan and Chair, Ewan Macpherson set out who we are as an organisation and started the process for the upcoming the strategic review and aimed to improve engagement with our volunteers.

There were lots of discussion and interactive ways of getting to know one another, led by Coach Education Development Manager Nikki Stewart and Development Manager Liza Linton.

From identifying our sailing background geographically on Scotland to answering the key question of ‘why we volunteer’, gained some insights into why everyone is involved, highlighting the passion, experiences and benefits of volunteering within our sport.


Changing Lives Champions and Regional Development Officers Jack Mitchell and Robin Nicol led an inspirational session on the journey of making an intentional lifestyle impact through sport and physical activity. The Roberston Trust and sportscotland have developed this new approach to the positive changes beyond participation in sport for health and wellbeing.

By thinking about the impact our sport and activities can make as a part of the planning, not just as a by-product, creates a clear understanding of the social outcomes that the boating community can benefit from. A series of practical and fun sessions demonstrated the identified and unidentified effects volunteers can have.

Following a short break Jack Mitchell and board member Helen Keenan outlined the ongoing work in developing a Volunteer Framework. This session introduced the concept of the volunteer journey, what clubs and others need to think about when recruiting, developing, supporting, communicating and valuing our volunteers.

The event closed with the first look at the next strategic review giving everyone in the room the opportunity to feed into the very start of this 4 year process and start to look at how we can work together to continue to develop and support boating within Scotland.


RYA Scotland identified a wide range of volunteers from those on committee to the wider volunteers who regularly help at events, or even the Pioneers who we support in their endeavours to get more women and girls involved in the sport.

One pioneer, Alice Lawrie commented after the sessions, “It was a very enjoyable day especially meeting so many interesting people, that are working hard as a Volunteer. It has definitely given me some inspirational thoughts”

Volunteer Chair Ewan MacPherson added. “It was an excellent opportunity to pull many of the main players in our world of RYA Scotland together. The feedback which I received from both the Volunteer’s day and the Awards event were very positive indeed. It was also an ideal introduction to the individuals involved in making our whole operation tick for some of our new directors. My overriding impression was one of energy and lots of it!”

Among the new directors meeting the team for the first time were Youth Director Jordan McNeilege who said. “Really informative day that challenged a lot of my understanding of volunteering. The RYA has clearly changed since I started out and it is really positive and exciting.”

Another new face to the board of directors was Rosie Smeaton who added. “I thought it was an excellent day with really engaging and informative discussion. While it is clear there are a lot of challenges this is a really good step in engaging with the volunteers and making sure the organisation can support them best.”


James Allan commented after the day, “I felt the day was a great success as the activities fitted the purpose of connecting people really well. We were hoping to introduce a level of what influences us as an organisation and expose our volunteers to the bigger picture.”

On behalf of the staff team Liza Linton commented. “This was a great opportunity to get together as a volunteer and staff group, to find out why we are involved, what motivates us to do our job (paid or voluntary) and see how we can connect better to support the boating community of Scotland. Definitely a successful afternoon and one I hope we can repeat again soon!”

It is widely acknowledged many of our activities cannot exist without volunteers. Thank you.