Volunteers are the bedrock of our sport and the backbone of our clubs, dedicating their valuable time to make sure sailing and boating continues to develop and that all of our sailors have a positive experience on and off the water.
Today we turn our attention to Margie Crawford who has been volunteering for many years in a variety of roles. She tells us all about her sailing and volunteering journey so far.
I started sailing as a cadet and other dinghies at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club where my parents raced a dragon. I joined East Down Yacht Club when I came home from working in England around 30 years ago and raced a laser, then a Wayfarer at National and International events until 2019. I also skippered the Northern Ireland ladies’ team in the BT/RYA Women’s National Match Racing Championship in England, solo-sailed to Isle of Man and now own and race an Impala 28.
I got involved as a volunteer with the youth at East Down Yacht Club (EDYC) as a family member and it continued from there, to serving in committees and eventually as Commodore of EDYC. I help with sail training for beginners and improvers on Friday nights in May and June. I help with running the Icicles Winter Series (& race my laser if not help is not required!). I instruct during the Youth Week every summer and we are ‘self-help’ club so everyone does a bar duty and also for those who are qualified we do an on the water duty.
In the past I have been Chair of the School Sailing Association out of Killyleagh Outdoor Centre; weekend volunteer on Lord Rank (Sail Training Association NI) and assistant Youth Leader role for Belfast City Council Sail Training when I took a youth group out to Halifax Nova Scotia in 2009 to sail back to Belfast on Tall Ship Europa taking part in Tall Ships Atlantic Race. I was also off shore volunteer on Dublin-based Tall Ship Jeanie Johnston. I was also involved in delivering a programme for the recently formed RYA NI Youth Forum.
As Commodore I wanted to get to know every member and realised there was a role for a New Members Contact person. So when my term has finished I offered to take on this role. It is not an ‘officer’ role as such, in that I don’t sit on Committees, but I liaise with the Hon Secretary when membership enquires come in and make a personal approach by telephone if possible. I show them around the club and give them my contact details and they can ring me any time for information or queries.
There are some key elements to this:
I love meeting people and interacting at any level.
The impact for me is that I have to manage my own time well and the impact for the club is that the club gets members who feel welcome. We get families/individuals who take part in lots of different on the water activities.
It is difficult to judge, as much as is required. It can be very easy to let it take over if you enjoy it, so it must be managed to a degree.
Make sure they know what is involved and enjoy chatting to people. It is not something to be done in half measure as some new members need quite a lot of support but others just slot in as long as they know that someone is available to speak to.