In a year where we would not have survived without volunteers, writing for a site that wouldn’t run without volunteers, we celebrate them all this week. From the NHS volunteers, the people delivering shopping, to our sports volunteers, to Girl Guiding Volunteers. We spoke to Doctor Sue Robertson about her journey from driving the mini bus for her children’s football club, to becoming the first female President in 140 years at Cricket Scotland.
For some being a wife, mother and Doctor, is already too much, but for Sue, this was just the beginning for her path to President at Cricket Scotland: “I have done lots of volunteering in my life. I have been a Brownie Guider, parent helper, driven the minibus for the girls football team, coached juniors at squash and now volunteer with Cricket Scotland as Women’s National Team Tour manager and also President of Cricket Scotland.” In her 57 years Sue has pretty much ticked all the boxes and still continues to inspire young women all over Scotland to get into volunteering.
Having gotten involved in her daughters football club, meant she could watch her daughter play and get to know the team as well. Knowing that not all parents were able to devote this time, it encouraged Sue to take things a step further and take on more responsibility as Chair of the Club. This led to her being invited to the board of Scottish Women’s Football, to represent youth football.
“I really enjoyed meeting all the people and also felt that I was helping girls and women get involved in sport and activity for health and wellbeing-as a doctor these are really important to me,
“Once I stepped down from the SWF I started to become involved in cricket and helped to set up the first female team from Dumfries Cricket Club. I became women’s and girls’ conveyor at the club and was nominated by other clubs to become the first female member of the Cricket Scotland Holdings Limited board representing clubs with female teams in the leagues. That was quite challenging but I enjoy a challenge and felt a bit like a pioneer.”
It was then in 2017 that Sue was asked to be part of the Scotland National Women’s’ Team Tour Management. This was because it was an all-male line up, and it was thought that it would be good to have a female presence on the team.
“All of my work in this, is as a volunteer and yes it’s true that sometimes it seems like a huge amount of work to do without any financial gain but I do gain in other ways. I have met so many interesting people, heard so many stories, formed new friendships and social groups and at the same time been able to develop myself and my opinions in ways that would not have been possible without volunteering. At work I am a physician, so the health and wellbeing agenda is one I am so passionate about and I have been able to feel I am ‘doing my bit’ to improve access to sport and activity through my work first in football, squash then cricket.”
For many people who involve themselves in volunteering, can see a growth in their own abilities and those around them. Volunteering is a big part of my own story. I of course volunteer as a writer for SW/S as well as being a Brownie Leader, and from the ages of 14 to 20 I was involved at Young Scot as part of the Junior Climate Challenge Fund. As a board member where groups of young people could apply for funding to support local eco friendly projects, it was my job to decide where the money went. In roles like these, it has helped with my confidence, given me life long friends from across Scotland, and so many other opportunities that have led me to where I am now.
Maureen McGonigle, Founder of SW/S, has seen volunteers build up her organisation and has created a hub to celebrate the amazing women in Scottish Sports: “Volunteers have enabled SW/S to move forward from an idea to an organisation who deliver events and campaigns that reflect the issues and success of women in sport. Without them, there would be no SW/S and I owe them all a debt of gratitude for the work that they put in.”
Nobody really expects to end up where they do when it come to volunteering, when Sue started driving the local girls to their football matches, did she see where she would end up, as President of Scottish Cricket?
“Volunteering is amazing it gives you different perspective and meaning, you meet new and interesting people and you never know where it might take you… you might end up president of something! Even if I help one person to become involved in sport then it will be worth it.”
“I would encourage everyone to try it. Our society runs on volunteers giving of their time to help others and we are all bonded together by that act. The act of selflessness gives you great satisfaction and can change your life for the good in many ways. All you can be is you, you bring different skills and attributes to volunteering than anyone else and that means together we are stronger and more effective because of our diversity,
“We should celebrate volunteers who give their time and energy to help others, they are often not the ones with much spare time but choose to give what they have up for the good of all.”