National Volunteer Award Profile - Alan Fleming & Susan Jamieson

The third winners from the second round of Bowls Scotland National Volunteer Awards are the dynamic duo of Alan Fleming and Susan Jamieson from Thornton Bowling Club.

Susan unfortunately passed away in December 2021 after a four-year battle with cancer which was devastating news for everyone involved at Thornton BC as she was an incredible character to have around the place. The club along with Susan’s family are still keen to share her and Alan’s volunteering story as they have transformed the club throughout their time on the committee.

Alan has been a member of Thornton BC since 1986 and 2022 will be his 12th year as the clubs President across three separate spells. In recent years, he has also taken on the roles of Treasurer, Green Keeper, Match Secretary and Bar Convenor – all of which he had massive assistance from his Vice President Susan as she had an input into each of these roles and helped share the workload with Alan. Susan had been a volunteer at the club since her childhood as her family were all heavily involved at the club, and she would help with any small jobs she could. She was also Secretary of the Ladies Kirkcaldy & District League, and it was hoped that she would be the first female President of Thornton BC but sadly time and her illness were against her.

Speaking on their immense working and personal relationship, Alan said: “Susan was an excellent organiser. She was a sounding board for my ideas and would reign me in if she thought my ideas were getting a bit extravagant.

“I admired her passion for bowls and her enthusiasm for coaching new members that joined the club. Her devotion to the bowling club was second to none. Many people wrongly thanked me for having a good day at an event, but Susan was probably more responsible for everything going smoothly. In the final weeks of Susan’s illness, we would discuss the bowling club and upcoming events and her attention to detail was excellent always picking up on any mistakes I had made.

“She can never be replaced, and I only hope that I can continue on with the great work we did together and do her memory justice.”

 

One of the most rewarding aspects Alan and Susan took from their volunteering roles was welcoming new members to the club and seeing people enjoying themselves. The last couple of years have been challenging for bowling clubs due to the COVID-19 pandemic but many clubs have been innovative in the way they made their facilities attractive to both existing members and non-members. Alan commented: Both Susan and I took great pleasure in nurturing new and existing members in their pursuit of the game of bowls.

“We would much rather let new members play than ourselves and help them by coaching them from the side lines. We never once sought plaudits, a mere thank you and the smile on members faces was reward enough.

“Over the past years the club has worked very hard at increasing our membership by encouraging people to take up a social membership in the first instance then trying to convert them into bowling members. My philosophy is that if you make people feel welcomed and create an enjoyable atmosphere then you are halfway to convincing them to take a membership or come along to try bowls.

“We have introduced members and social members bowling hat days, giving them a taste of the bowling experience along with a dedicated competition where social members play in a 5-player team with bowling members. We have also had a few fun days and played bowls-golf and one end challenges that are open to social members as well.”

Karen McAndrew is a fellow member of Thornton BC and knows first-hand how fortunate the club are to have had such incredibly hard-working volunteers. After nominating Alan and Susan for their National Volunteer Award, she said: I nominated Alan and Susan for the total commitment they have shown to their roles as President and Vice President where they went above and beyond what was expected or required to ensure the club was a safe and friendly place for our members especially throughout the pandemic. 

“They were both involved with coaching new members and because they were so welcoming and encouraging, the club has thrived through a vast number of new members taking up the sport for the first time. At the weekends the green had to be set for seven rinks instead of six to accommodate all the members that wanted to play. I’ve never seen the green so full for years. They visited the club on a daily basis giving up their personal time for a club they love. 

“Although I personally nominated them, I know that every member of our club would have been behind the nomination. The comments on our Facebook page regarding the award were outstanding and came from many different clubs and their members which also showed how highly they are regarded in bowling circles. 

“I know every bowling club has its fair share of volunteers and without them clubs would not survive. Alan and Susan were great at organising and getting stuck in with the work whether it was getting a squad together to paint fencing or weed the paths they could always count on our members volunteering their services. Every club needs a Susan Jamieson and an Alan Fleming!”

There’s been a lot of thriving events held at Thornton BC in recent years, with Alan and Susan being proud to also host various successful fundraisers at the club. They both loved being able to give back to amazing causes that are close to their hearts with the support of their friends, family and fellow members. Alan added: “I believe Susan’s favourite memory was a fashion show fundraiser for her support group when she was a breast care nurse. One song that was at the forefront was ‘Reach for the Stars’ and that was a sentiment that Susan would use when encouraging people both in life decisions and playing bowls. She was of the opinion you can never aim too high.

“My personal favourite memory is the proudest and most emotional one in all my time I have been involved at Thornton Bowling Club. It was our latest fundraiser, an afternoon tea for MacMillan Cancer Support, this was co-organised with Susan but unfortunately, she could not attend.

“Our ladies were treated to a day of being served hand and foot by many of our male members, I acted as host, and we played several party games. I was so proud of everyone that helped and at the generosity of everyone that contributed to raising £5,000 for MacMillan Cancer Support.

“What we have achieved over the many years has been through a joint determination to succeed and make Thornton Bowling Club the best. It has been a team effort with us guiding the many willing helpers we have at the club.”

With the 2022 season fast approaching, Alan is looking ahead to another busy year as the clubs President. Despite his delight at receiving this accolade, he is already focusing on further growing the club this summer with plans taking shape to extend Thornton BC’s clubhouse. He rounded off by saying: “This award means so much and to be recognised in partnership with Susan was all the more pleasing. Receiving the award prior to Susan’s passing will always be one of my proudest moments as President of Thornton Bowling Club.

“Due to positive recruitment over the last few years, we are starting to look at increasing the size of the clubhouse. Thanks to the success of our Saturday hat days over the last two years we have increased the number of these this year and we have a couple of try bowls events planned to encourage more people into bowls.

“The focus will be to try and give our new and existing members the full bowling experience as they have missed out on this for two years and if we can retain them for 2023 then it will be a job well done. We cannot rest on our laurels and with everyone’s help Thornton Bowling Club can go from strength to strength.”

Congratulations to Alan and Susan on behalf of everyone at Bowls Scotland for receiving their thoroughly deserved National Volunteer Award! We would also like to thank Kaye Cullinan, Ladies District Co-Ordinator for District 8, for presenting the award to Alan and Susan.

Applications for our next round of nominations close on Tuesday 1st March. For more information or to nominate someone, please visit: https://www.bowlsscotland.com/club-development/volunteering

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