Thursday, June 2, 2016

Volunteer Week 2016 – Saying thank you to Doug Watt

"You don’t need to have swum, or played football etc. to volunteer in sport. Everyone has a skill they can offer to others, they just need to want to do it. " Doug Watt

The annual campaign, established in 1984, recognises the contribution volunteers make to our communities every day. Volunteers are the heartbeat of our sport so we would like to use the next 12 days as an opportunity to say ‘thank you’.

While we will focus on some individuals about why they volunteer, our thanks are not just limited to them. We say thank you to everyone who gives of their time so freely to support the aquatics community across Scotland.

Today we meet Doug Watt, President of Galashiels Amateur Swimming Club to find out a bit more about how and why he became a volunteer.

What club are you involved with?

I am President of Galashiels Amateur Swimming Club.

How did you get involved in volunteering?

Probably like most parents who have a child that swims in a club, and then develops and progresses in the sport you move from just being the taxi driver at club nights, to taxi driver for competitions, followed pretty quickly with the timekeeping courses, etc. This was true for myself however in Gala ASC case the club was being run by a few people whose own kids had finished with swimming and they themselves wanted to move on. It became apparent that unless a President, Secretary and a new committee were found that there was a real danger that the Club would struggle to function and as the club still had over 60 members and a long established history within the town I felt that I needed to help in any way I could to keep things going. So I agreed at the AGM to become President. My wife Linda took on the Secretary role and fortunately many others came forward to fill the necessary committee roles. With everyone committed to making it work we set to work on the Governance, SwiMark accreditation, appointing a Head Coach, Fund Raising and marketing the club to increase members. Fortunately things have worked out very well albeit it with a little blood, sweat and the occasional tears thrown in for good measure.  

What do you get out of being a volunteering?

A sense of achievement…..when I took the role on it wasn’t to self-promote myself or my son, and it never will be. It was to ensure that for a period of time the club can grow and sustain itself long after I leave. I was never a swimmer but always knew of the club and its past achievements and to ensure that this was maintained has always been my goal. The Club comes first….period. Yes we may have one or two swimmers who are making the grade at District level but it’s the other 75 members who make the club and knowing that you’re helping all athletes, regardless of their ability, makes it all worthwhile.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about volunteering

Go for it….People always think they can’t do this, or couldn’t do that but you’ll be amazed at what you can actually do if you give it a go. You don’t need to have swum, or played football etc. to volunteer in sport. Everyone has a skill they can offer to others, they just need to want to do it. The rewards are massive - to see one of our swimmers get their first PB or the smile on their face when they win their first medal, be awarded swimmer of the month for efforts at Club Night, or make the Swim Team for the first time, and you know you’ve contributed to that in some way, large or small way….you get a certain sense of pride.

What is your volunteering highlight?

For me it was helping the club get £19400 of funding so we could upgrade the facilities within the club. Many hours of form filling, rewriting and hair pulling resulted in the club being awarded 4 integrated sources of funding which meant we could install competition diving blocks, turning boards, lane lines and over £3500 worth of training aids that our members would benefit from. It gave the club the lift it needed, raised the profile and gave it a buzz at club night that hadn’t been there for a long time. Knowing that you had been part of that and seeing the enjoyment all our members get from what basically started out as a pipe dream, was and still is a tremendous feeling.

What a great background and it shows just what like-minded people can achieve. Thank you Doug and all the volunteers at Galashiels ASC for all that you do.

For more information about volunteering in clubs please click here:

For more information about volunteering in general please click here: