Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Volunteer Week 2017 - Saying thank you to Helen Rothnie

The annual volunteer week recognises the incredible work of volunteers across our community. Over the week, we will be focusing on some of our invaluable volunteers and saying thank you for all of their hard work.

Today we shine a spotlight on Helen Rothnie of Orkney ASC, a volunteer at the club for twelve years.

What do you do in your role?

I’m involved in fundraising, officiating, I’m a committee member, I do coach education, I travel with the team, work to secure grants and sponsorship, I liaise with Scottish Swimming, carry out volunteer training, CPO, whilst I’m a former club president and currently club membership secretary.

I am just one of many. We have almost as many volunteers as swimmers in the club, and there are over 100 of both. Almost all of our volunteers have multiple roles, and the club would grind to a halt without them. From clothing coordinators, to poolside rota, to soup and sandwich makers, to coach assistants, coaches, officials, and committee members, running a swimming club successfully needs all these and more, and we are lucky to have a small army of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers who take on these roles.

While the initial motivation for most is to get involved and help with their child's activity, the rewards of volunteering are many, and you get out just as much as you put in. From my own point of view, some of the most rewarding experiences have come from watching both swimmers and coaches develop over the years, not just my own children, but many many others, whether they gain a new PB for 25 free when they are 8 years old, to our performance swimmers qualifying for National competitions, others finding a path to becoming coaches themselves, and adult swimmers discovering that masters is not just for triathletes and ex-squad swimmers.

In other areas, there's still a huge sense of satisfaction with every successful sponsor request and grant application; knowing how hard our coaches and swimmers work for everything they achieve, it's nice to be able to smooth the way for them sometimes.

Being remote geographically, we travel a lot, and this is another fun aspect of volunteering with the club. Many swimming trips undertaken all over the North District, from Shetland to Aberdeen, and to National comps in Glasgow and Edinburgh, have generated lots of fun memories. Without my volunteering with the club, I would not have had the opportunity to travel with the Orkney swim team to the International Island Games; to Bermuda in 2013, to Jersey in 2015, and we are off to Gotland later this month for the 2017 Games!

What skills can volunteering help develop?

There are lots! Organisational skills, interpersonal skills, resolving disputes both big and small, rising above these disputes, writing successful funding applications, getting good travel deals, gaining skills in recording and AOE, feeding large groups of hungry swimmers on a budget, and lots more!

Any amusing or otherwise experiences you’ve had as a volunteer?

I carried the Olympic torch in 2012, flew in a 4-seater twin-prop plane all the way to Gotland and back for Island Games pre-meeting in 2016; and dealing with those panicky moments when the ferry is cancelled at the last minute and you have a group of 12 to get home to Orkney from Aberdeen. Also that time when Finley Hall predicted he would be in a swim off at ASV, then it actually happened, and my then 12-year-old daughter Alison's determination to break a 34-year-old club age group record and managing it!

WOW! Helen sounds an amazing lady and we can’t thank her and each of her fellow volunteers enough for all they do.

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