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Breaking the ‘business as usual’ mind-set – COTY success for Glossop SC

This is the third instalment in a series of case studies, examining the achievements and examples of best practice from this year’s Club of the Year finalists.

The 2019 RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year Awards supported by Gallagher were the biggest ever, and the RYA Awards Panel were blown away by the fantastic work, innovation and outstanding achievement of all of this year’s 11 finalists. Read on to find out more about this month’s featured finalist.

A Midlands gem

Situated in the beautiful Pennines in Derbyshire, Glossop Sailing Club (GSC) were selected as one of two Midlands Region Finalists in the 2019 Club of the Year awards. With a longstanding reputation as a family friendly, welcoming and inclusive club run exclusively by members, the club are committed to nurturing and engaging their entire membership.

Here, Commodore Viki Packman, tells us more about what makes this small Midlands club so special.

Getting away from the ‘business as usual’ mind-set

Constantly striving to improve and grow, in 2017 GSC published a five year development plan setting out to make the club an exemplar of best practice. Viki said: “We are aiming to grow our club and introduce more people to the pleasure of being on the water. Working with our RYA Regional Development Officer, we published an ambitious five-year development plan.

“The plan recognises our strengths and weaknesses, defines our core demographics, sets a strategy, and quantifies our progress against measured KPIs. With it, we have motivated club members with a defined future vision. We have achieved outstanding success in delivering against our KPIs, all thanks to the efforts of our loyal and enthusiastic team of volunteers.”

Inclusive pathways

The club boasts strong dinghy and windsurfing pathways for both adults and juniors, providing an on-the-water activity for everyone. The youth section is particularly strong and the club is an active RYA OnBoard centre, engaging with the local community.

“We have enthusiastically promoted OnBoard activities offering local schools, cubs, scouts and guide groups free taster sessions. Our weekly junior dinghy and windsurfing clubs are lively, led by volunteer club instructors and supported by parents,” says Viki.

The club has also developed its own junior pathway, which sees youngsters go from introductory sessions right the way through to instructing or competing at events with great success. Viki explains: “Girls and boys all sail and compete together and are supported to become assistant instructors and to qualify as instructors should they wish to. This makes our activities sustainable, while ensuring the next generation are inspired by those who have gone before them.

“Juniors compete in the Derbyshire Youth Sailing (DYS) and Team 15 inter-club events. The ‘Glossop Gladiators’ were the 2018 Midlands T15 Champions, winning two ‘first girl’ trophies at the Nationals and we also hosted a North and Midlands Techno Zone Training weekend last year.

For adults, novice sailors are able to sign up for dinghy courses in the club’s RS Visions, with follow on ‘Sailing with Confidence’ sessions using Hartley 12s. The sessions have been well received and highly successful in retaining novice members and growing both competence and confidence. The sailing programme also includes regular, well attended dinghy open and class events.

A diverse offer

Having recognised their unique selling point in having a broad watersports offer, GSC have embraced the further diversification of activities. The introduction of Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP-ing) has been a huge success with over 140 sessions and some of these participants also now learning to sail.

Viki explains: “In 2018 we introduced Stand Up Paddle Boarding to attract a new, principally female, demographic. We ran introductory courses for 60+ novices promoted via social media, which generated huge local interest from young professional women, parents of our juniors, and partners of existing dinghy sailors and windsurfers.”

And with plans to offer Yoga SUP sessions and taster sessions for retirees this summer, it’s clear there’s still room for growth in this area.

“We are proud that Glossop Sailing Club is a fully integrated inland water-sports club, offering dinghy sailing, windsurfing, powerboat training and now paddle-boarding, run innovatively and to RYA best practice,” says Viki.

Breaking down barriers

From tackling gender balance, to breaking down technical jargon, the club are committed to getting as many people out on the water as possible. “We aim to make it easy for people to come and try out sailing, windsurfing and paddleboarding,” explains Viki.

“We recognise that some may be anxious about wearing wetsuits - ‘which way is the front? What if it doesn’t fit?’ – or not understanding technical jargon, so we always want to make them feel comfortable and knowing who to turn to.

“We are committed to full gender balance and inclusion, with women and girls represented at all levels across the club, and we are an official partner to Sport England’s ‘The Girl Can’ (TGC) campaign.

“As a small club, run entirely by members who all have jobs, families and other demands, we can’t always promise everything will run perfectly all the time, but we can make people feel welcome and share our enthusiasm for our sport.”

The Club of the Year experience

“Being selected as a finalist was such a boost for raising our profile and creating interest in what we do,” explains Viki. “It has also given us the platform within the RYA to share our experiences and insights about breaking the ‘business as usual’ mind-set.”

“I’d definitely recommend other clubs apply. The process has been really good for us following our self-review and creation of our development plan, and the application process was clear and straightforward. It was an honour to be selected as a finalist and there was so much to learn from meeting the other finalists at the awards lunch and presentation.”

It could be you!

Applications for the 2020 Club of the Year Awards will open later this year, make sure to keep an eye on Clubroom for further announcements.

To find out more about the awards visit www.rya.org.uk/cluboftheyear. Or read the previous Clubroom case studies with Blackwater Sailing Club and Dell Quay Sailing Club by following the links.

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