Voluntary Chair Shares Experiences

As RYA Scotland is seeking a new Chair, Ewan MacPherson MBE, shares some of his experiences in the role.
04 Sep 20

Our volunteer Board of Directors serves a diverse community by leading the strategic direction in Scotland. The leadership of this Board is one of the most critical roles in our organisation and we are seeking a successor to our current Chair, Ewan Macpherson MBE.

Having served as a volunteer director since 2011, Ewan becamethe Chair in 2017 and his term of office is due to end at our AGM this October.Originally introduced to sailing through the sea scouts at Hogganfield Loch inthe east end of Glasgow, Ewan became a Sea Scout leader, where he was principalof a RYA Recognised Training Centre and has served two spells as commodore ofLargs SC. He also still manages to get afloat on his Solo either at Largs or atMontrose SC.


We caught up with Ewan to find out what the role of Chair entails and what have been some of the highlights of his time with RYA Scotland.

“Some pretty back-room administrative things have actually been highlights since they are important for the future of RYA Scotland and indeed boating in Scotland. Among these the recent re-structuring of our governance, which has been important both legally and for the very practical purpose of engaging more dedicated people in directing the organisation and boating in Scotland general.”

“Also getting to know and exchange experiences with other sport National Governing Body Chairs through sportscotland has been invaluable alongside building closer relationships with RYA chairs and senior managers both at Hamble and in other home countries.”

“This has helpedto place boating in Scotland as being more than sport, it also provides majorcontributions to the economy including tourism, health and wellbeing andeducation. This has developed into supporting our leadership role in the MarineTourism initiative for Scotland and working more closely with the yacht clubassociations, since we all have the same fundamental aims in mind.”

“It has been a time of change throughout the UK and I worked directly with RYA board members as part of the Member & Other Stakeholder Engagement Strategy (MOSES) working group. While back in Scotland we have ensured that RYA Scotland meets nearly all of it’s targets and remains viable and contemporary.

“It would be remiss to highlight working with such a great staff team at RYA Scotland who are professionals to the hilt! Also being part of the amazing team of volunteers on RYA Scotland Council, Management Committee, now Board, sub-committees and clubs. Having attended and witnessed the sheer joy from the growing number of competitors, parents and clubs taking part in our increasingly high quality events has allowed me to meet and speak to members and non-members with boating interests.”

“Through meeting individuals who have discovered the joys of boating for the very first time at events like Scotland’s Boat Show to visiting clubs up and down the country has shown such a great range of great people so utterly dedicated to our shared passion of boating. This reminds me of joy I have when I get back on the water myself from time to time, as if it was the first time all over again!”

“On a personal front it was wholly unexpected to be awarded a MBE for services to our sport in Scotland.”


The role is not without challenges when leading an organisation with such a diverse range of activities and Ewan shared some of these.

“Thinking through a better way of connecting and supporting boating at a regional level. Clearly the Sailing Development Groups model was only partially successful but I think that we are on a much stronger course now by focussing on clubs and building from there.”

“Moving forwardwith sailing for those with disability.  We need to be able to make betterprogress in Scotland to enable more people to access the sport.”

“Also reaching into less advantaged communities, where we know that this works but we are too often stuck in our own bubble and we have some way to go here. We should promote the fact that Scotland is a coastal nation and that boating is a historical legacy that seems to have become lost with urbanisation. We need to work hard to turn this around. No-one in Scotland is more than a handful of miles from boating water.”

We asked Ewan if he were to offer one piece of advice to a successor, what would it be?

“There is a lot to be done, but there are a lot of others willing to help. And don’t forget to enjoy the experience.”


RYA Scotland is welcoming applications for the role of Chair of RYA Scotland with more details below: