Alison Shaw – National Volunteer Award Profile

The third winner from the sixth round of the Bowls Scotland National Volunteer Awards is Alison Shaw from Colgrain Bowling Club.

Alison is a dedicated ladies Match Secretary who has been lending her help to the people of Colgrain BC for over ten years. Alison has taken on a variety of duties at the club, willingly stepping up when the club was short of committee members. More recently, Alison has taken on the many of the duties of male Match Secretary. Without her doing so the club could have potentially lost many members, which would significantly impact their income and ability to compete in larger competitions. These positions come naturally to Alison due to her excellent organisational and planning skills that she developed in past volunteer work.

Speaking on her role as Match Secretary, and her previous skills developed from volunteering, Alison said:

“I only started playing bowls in my mid 50’s, how I wish that I had come to this game years before! The reason that I joined the Committee in my second year was that I had previous experience in volunteering, having been Treasurer of a gymnastics club, coaching netball in an after-school club and I was also on a pony club committee where I organised team show jumping competition’s for six years. We hosted events in excess of 200 riders/horses, I thoroughly enjoy the planning, therefore I was interested to help the club in any way that I could. From there, I was then asked to take on the position of Ladies Match Secretary.”

Alison has provided comprehensive advice and direction to several club Presidents and committee members over the years, while also encouraging individuals to play and compete in competitions for the benefit of the players as well as the club. Her words of encouragement reach many Colgrain BC members as well as members of other bowling clubs in the area. She has established relationships with many of the smaller clubs to ensure that ladies have the opportunity to play and compete in bowling competitions with other ladies across the bowling community. Alison has also spent time assisting the Gareloch Women’s Bowling Association and Bowls Scotland in ensuring that bowling greens and support staff are available to deliver events.

Alison’s work on the committee has been highly recognised amongst the Colgrain community. Michelle, a member of Colgrain BC, who nominated Alison for her National Volunteer Award has spoken to us around some of the work Alison has carried out:

“She engages with the older members as well as openly sharing her knowledge of the sport with the newer, less experienced members. Her knowledge of the sport combined with her love of it is a real asset to our club as it encourages new players like me to engage more, continue to grow and feel part of something. Time after time she sets up competitions, invites new clubs and encourages new members, she is just so passionate and dedicated. “

“The difference Alison has made is difficult to articulate as she does so much, I cannot imagine how things would happen without her. From making sure we have a full fixture list, to ensuring the green keeper knows what is required, knowing where all the players are to be for all our competitions, she’s integral to our club functioning. Even the little touches that are so important like ensuring we have great hospitality available for all our visitors, that everyone gets to take part, to ensuring our senior ladies are supported every Wednesday. The list goes on and on, she is integral to our club and without her is just not something I could imagine. Every club needs an Alison.”

Alison has even began actively encouraging a youth group in the region, building connections with other clubs and networks, so that the young people of the Colgrain and surrounding areas can come together and play. She also uses her role as Match Secretary to support future committee members, giving advice and sharing experience to anyone willing to learn so that they can be a strong future member of the committee for Colgrain BC's growing membership.

Speaking on her work with the youth members Alison added:

“This can be challenging but rewarding, ensuring all members can have the opportunity to play in competitions, leagues or just for fun. It’s great to see new members enjoy the game. This year on our ‘Finals Day’, after our regular games had finished, I arranged for our youngest members to play a round robin with most members remaining to watch the games and give encouragement. Medals were presented at conclusion which resulted in beaming smiles all round. This is what makes it worthwhile, this is our future.”

Alison was presented with her trophy at the clubs closing of the green ceremony by Bowls Scotland Gents President, Ron McArthur, where she had no idea that she was about to be congratulated for all her volunteering work at Colgrain BC. After having some time to reflect on the surprise, Alison commented:

When Ron McArthur presented me with the award, I was gobsmacked to say the least and was literally lost for words. I had no idea that it was happening as no one at the club had mentioned the nomination or me having been selected as a winner.

“Inwardly I was very emotional as I felt that my efforts had obviously been appreciated by someone, which makes it all worthwhile. Volunteers like me are not in it for rewards or honours, we are there solely to provide members with the means to learn, practice and enjoy the game of bowls. I would also like to say a big thank you to Michelle for nominating me, it makes it feel that all the work you put in is worth it.”

Without the tireless efforts of dedicated volunteers like Alison, bowls would not be able to grow and be enjoyed by people across the country. A great message about the value of volunteers was shared by Michelle from Colgrain BC:

“Without volunteers many clubs like ours could not continue to function and be accessible to so many parts of our community. Bowls would be lost in the huge choice of activities people now have to choose from and hence needs to be distinct from all the other social and sport clubs on offer if it is to survive. People join to be part of something and connect with others not just to win cups.

“Volunteering instils a sense of pride knowing that your club needs you as much as you need it. With that ethos you encourage your membership to do everything they can to ensure members keep joining and costs are kept to a level that encourages all parts of the community to join. We need volunteers to ensure bowling clubs survive and stand out from all the other clubs you could join. It’s a family, it a community and this should be celebrated more.”

Congratulations to Alison on behalf of everyone at Bowls Scotland for receiving her thoroughly deserved National Volunteer Award!

Applications for our next round of nominations close on Friday 8th March 2024.  For more information or to nominate someone, please visit:

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