National Volunteer Award Profile Colin Dick

Colin Dick’s role as a Volunteer at Haddington Bowling Club has covered a variety of responsibilities from president and match secretary to coach, he has helped with raising funds, supporting the community and is breaking ground with a vision to see Haddington become an inclusive, community hub for bowling.

Colin joined Haddington BC in 2013 and by 2014 had been elected onto the committee. Since then he has been involved in various roles and as a team the committee have been making positive changes for club and community. Colin humbly acknowledges that his fellow core team of committee members should be recognised as well as himself as a force for driving change at Haddington “there’s been some stability for the last 5 or 6 years. There’s a core nucleus of people who remain on the committee and that’s allowed us to have some continuity.”

“I’m definitely more of a team player, I really feel that it’s not just one person that moves the club forward. We have a group of people who are really working hard. For me, it’s seeing the club develop year on year. I always say at committee meetings ‘if you’re standing still, you’re going backwards’. There’s a lot of competition and if we want to grow our membership, we have to become attractive, so everything the committee does is about taking the club forward with small steps at a time…”

Happy to avoid the spotlight and work away in the background, Colin also describes himself as ‘tenacious’ and was willing to take the lead on fundraising for the club for a project which he pinpoints as one of the highlights of his time volunteering. “We’ve been investigating the idea of having an accessible toilet in the club for the last 4 years. But this year we managed to access an architect and had plans drawn up. It meant a large amount of money was needed and the club couldn’t self-fund it, we didn’t have the resources. I started looking at grants however, the club had no previous experience of applying for funding.  

“The club worked with a charity ‘Our Community Kitchen’ who work from our club. They have great experience in applying for funding so we tapped into their knowledge and found out what funds to apply for. Over a period of 13 months, we submitted 3 applications and managed to secure £16,500 which was great.” The club fundraised some additional money internally and plans are now underway to begin implementing this long-term vision. “We’ll be starting the work in March 2022, to install an accessible toilet with all the safety features, non-slip floors, alarms that will be up and running for the start of the season.”

Colin’s nomination for the Volunteer Award mentioned his commitment and dedication to strategic planning and fundraising, and speaking to Colin, his determination is easy to see: “we just kept going and eventually we managed to raise the cash.” Colin is already looking forward to the season and to see what new doors the accessible facility will open for the club.

During the 2021 season, Haddington BC became one of 22 clubs across Scotland to have achieved their Bronze BowlsMark accreditation. Meeting certain requirements to achieve this provided structure to processes within the club as Colin describes: “…the BowlsMark scheme was fantastic because some of our processes and practices were a bit fast and loose… The BowlsMark scheme gave us a framework and a structure so that we could start tidying up our processes. We now have a structure so if we have a problem, we know exactly how to deal with it.”

One of the requirements to become a Bronze club is to host a Try Bowls event and towards the end of the 2021 season, Colin helped organise and run two successful Try Bowls events targeted at encouraging people with disabilities to try our sport. During the planning of these events advice and support was sought from Lothian Disability Sport, Scottish Disability Sport, East Lothian Council and Bowls Scotland. The two weekend events were well attended with fun had by all. We asked Colin why it is so important to him to offer equal opportunities to all who visit the club… “As soon as I realised we would raise the funds for the accessible toilet, it meant that we could provide a facility for wheelchair users and people with carers who need that extra support, and the idea grew from there. I think everybody should have the opportunity to bowl not just the able-bodied, but the whole community. The lack access of to appropriate facilities, the lack of coaches and a lack of equipment (or specialised equipment) means that clubs can’t offer the opportunity to bowl. We looked at up-skilling our coaches, so we now have 4 level 1 coaches and 2 who have been through the introductory course. Myself and another club member have been on the Scottish Disability Sport Introduction to Inclusive Training and are undertaking Bowls Scotland’s inclusive training in March. We provide coaching and the equipment free of charge, and are now upgrading our facilities. Having this package in place means now we can go out to the community and say ‘come and play bowls at Haddington.’”

 

The clubhouse at Haddington is on one level with 2 doors wide enough for wheelchair access and a ramp onto the green, so with the exception of the planned toilet renovation, the club was fairly well suited for the event. “We literally begged, borrowed and stole equipment to make our Try Bowls events happen! Lothian Disability Sport helped us manage the registration process and we had 12 people who came along on both weekends for disability bowls. The majority had learning disabilities or autism, one participant was a double amputee and another was partially sighted, so we knew from that register the disabilities people had and from there we contacted lots of people for advice on the equipment we needed. It was a bit of a leap of faith because we’d never done anything like this before, we were nervous and a bit unsure, but after the first event the feedback from parents and carers was absolutely fantastic. Keywords were that they felt welcome and included, which was exactly what we were trying to achieve with the day. Colin admitted the club may not have had the perfect set up but learnt from the experience “we still did it. You need to adapt, and that’s what we did on the day. And people were so appreciative of that…if you’ve not got equipment or proper access, you can adapt to make it work.”

Colin has been working hard to ensure that disabled bowling becomes established long-term at Haddington, by looking into partnerships and fundraising for purchasing equipment. He also hopes that he can encourage and inspire other community sports clubs to take similar action so that sport is accessible to all across the country. 

Adam Martin, Coach and Volunteer Manager presented the trophy to Colin at the club’s Christmas lunch in December 2021. We asked Colin how it felt to receive the award “I’m really proud to receive the nomination. I do commit a lot of time to the club and I like to see the club doing well, not just on the bowling green but off it as well. When Adam presented the award, I felt a little embarrassed, but I had a few minutes to think about it. It’s massive recognition for where the club was, 5 or 6 years ago, and where we’re going now. We are on a bit of a journey and receiving this award is recognition for what we’ve done but actually the next 5 years are even more important now. We can look back on the award and say ‘we’re doing good work, let’s keep going’. So I can see the club going from strength to strength and being even better in the next few years.”

Applications for Bowls Scotland’s National Volunteer Awards are open year-round, for more information or to nominate someone, please visit: https://www.bowlsscotland.com/club-development/volunteering

 

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