DC Q&A Andy Meekison
As part of our ongoing commitment to heighten awareness of the good work being done by volunteers, we have reached out to our District Co-ordinators (DCs) and District Youth Co-ordinators (DYCs) to find out more about these roles and the dedicated volunteers who carry out this crucial role.
With 32 Districts across Scotland, both sets of volunteers support affiliated clubs with guidance and advice on the latest initiatives being offered at a national level and oversee the Stage 1 qualifying for the annual National Championships. DYCs also offer support to clubs on youth development.
We spoke to Andy Meekison, who is coming into his tenth year as a DC in Fife’s District 7. We found out about Andy’s role as a DC as well as his wealth of experience volunteering in various competitions and events roles to support our sport.
Q) Describe your role as District Co-ordinator?
A) I have been Gents District 7 Secretary/Co-ordinator since 2013 and I've amassed a wealth of experience in the role. It's not rocket science - I'm here to promote the sport locally and be the focal point of Bowls Scotland in the area. My first priority was to build a network of contacts at clubs in the district - effectively the go-to person in that club who can make or facilitate decisions. My objective was simply 'who I can go to if I need to liaise over a wide range of issues that Bowls Scotland are involved in?' Most importantly, my network allows them to contact me. My main role in the district is to act as a link between my clubs and all the elements of our national strategy. I get some amazing requests - but it’s important I deal with them all. Oh yes, I also run Stage 1 of our National championship at District level. That's where most of our members come into contact with the national body. It's an annual headache but one I enjoy thoroughly. There's nothing better than completing your finals and sending your representatives off to Northfield in July- and even better meeting them down there when they are all set to hit the green to play!
Q) Why did you decide to become a DC and how long have you been in the role?
A) I was effectively 'headhunted' locally by my predecessor in District 7 the legendary Bobby Dick. I'd known him all my bowling life and he must have thought my bowls admin competency, knowledge of the sport in Scotland and my local contacts base was worthy of following in his footsteps. His only piece of advice initially was to 'do it your own way!'. I've never regretted taking up the post. I had/have many roles at both club and local league levels and it was a fairly smooth transition for me. I always had Bobby in the background as a 'mentor' if I ever needed any advice so I'm a great advocate of the Bowls Scotland DC/DYC mentor scheme. I always enjoy meeting fellow DC/DYC's and the fact that so many colleagues come to me for advice/info reminds me that I was once in their position and it's useful to have a contact who can be a sounding board for any issues you might have - we generally all face the same issues and problems nationally!
Q) What do you like best about your role?
A) It's an interesting and varied role as a DC/DYC. Oh it certainly can be varied and interesting if you want it to be! Our sports is seasonal so squeezed into 6 months. Our National Championships are completed by end of July so our key focus is on a 6 week period in May and June to run our Stage 1 competitions, then head to Northfield in July for the greatest week in the calendar - the Nationals. For that Stage 1 period it's all-in but the adrenalin you get from running a successful competition is amazing. Aside from running District 7, I do/have done a number of other roles withing Bowls Scotland, all as a willing volunteer! I've been a member of the Competition and Events Group since 2014 and we are challenged with running all the different events the organisation runs on a national level following the strategy that feeds down from the Board. In particular, for the past few years, I've been the National Co-ordinator for running the Andrew Hamilton Trophy, our Men's County Championship run nationally throughout the country in May, June and July. That role is a challenge but I'm lucky I've got 4 fantastic regional co-ordinators to assist me in the North, South, East and West. Additionally, I've been an International Senior and Junior Selector since 2014, a role I take very seriously and happily devote a ridiculous amount of time careering around the country every weekend watching players who might be an asset to the national sides. I'm also currently International Team manager for both the Senior Men's International Team and the Mixed Under 18 International Team - roles I'm very proud of as Bowls Scotland have trusted me with running our national teams in international competition.
Q) What advice would you give to somebody considering volunteering for their club (or for Bowls Scotland?)
A) Put your hand up and do it! Our sport cannot exist without volunteers, whether at club or national level. If you have enjoyed your time in the sport, why not give something back? Don't be afraid that you might be out of your depth - there are plenty of fantastic people both within the Bowls Scotland Head Office team or among the ranks of other DC/DYC's who will be more than willing to help you in any way they can.
Q) What is your favourite thing about bowls?
A) The friendship you get from the sport. I've made some fantastic friendships through our sport - locally, throughout Scotland and Internationally. Bowling is in my blood. Bowls in part of our national sporting identity. It is a sport that comes from local environments and bowling clubs are focal points in communities. Being a bowler in your local club is where it all starts so support your local club(s).
Huge thanks to Andy for taking the time to give answers for this Q&A as well as for his commitment and dedication to bowls over the years. You can find out more about our DC and DYC roles here.