National Volunteer Award Profile - Ryan Turnbull

Our final winner from the second round of Bowls Scotland National Volunteer Awards is Ryan Turnbull from Melrose Bowling Club.

Ryan is Melrose BC’s youngest member at 13-years-old but don’t let his youthfulness fool you as he is an extremely organised and driven young man. Throughout 2021 he raised an astounding £3,600 which has contributed to his club being able to purchase a defibrillator.

To raise this total Ryan held a ‘Bowls Marathon’ at the club on Saturday 18th September 2021 where he and a team of four fellow members played bowls for 12 consecutive hours. The youngster came up with the concept for the day as he wanted a project to focus on throughout the school summer holidays and assist his club in obtaining this potentially lifesaving equipment. Ryan and his mum, Nicola, began exploring defibrillator options available to the club and came up with the ambitious target of raising £1,500 for a suitable device.

After tremendous support from the club, fellow members, family & friends, and many local businesses Ryan was able to smash his original fundraising target. This enabled him not only to purchase a defibrillator for his own club, but he donated the remainder of the money to local club Gala Bowling Club to allow them to purchase one too! Speaking about the event, Ryan said: “I had been out on a dog walk with my mum when I spotted a defibrillator outside the Darnick Village Hall. It was one of very little if not the only one I had seen in the area. I thought maybe to keep me busy during the school holidays I could suggest to my Club Secretary, Lee Haldane, that I could come up with an event to raise money for one.

“Obviously, I surpassed my original goal of £1,500 and managed to raise almost £3,600 so I bought two defibs and donated the second to another club, Gala Bowling Club in Galashiels.

“I enjoyed the whole day and was really grateful that so many people were willing to take part and help me complete it.”

The format of the day for Ryan’s marathon team of Craig Elliot, Ian Crawford, Neil McNally and Gary Thorburn was to play games from 7am until 7pm against eight opposition teams that had each signed up to play 90-minute matches. Six of the eight teams were made up of members from Melrose Bowling Club that were keen to be a part of the day and actively participate. The remaining two teams supporting the event were from Gala Bowling Club and Newtown St Boswells Bowling Club.

A large crowd of around 50 members, family and friends gathered for the final match of the day at 5.30pm and at the conclusion of play Ryan proudly announced the fundraising total of over £3,200 (which has subsequently risen to £3,600). To recognise and thank Ryan for this unbelievable achievement, Melrose’s committee have agreed to provide a contribution towards a new set of bowls for him before the beginning of the 2022 season.

Immensely proud of Ryan and everyone involved with the marathon bowls day, Melrose Bowling Club’s Secretary, Lee Haldane, added: “One of our key principles from the outset was to ensure that Ryan was very much the driving force behind the project, rather than take it from him and diminish his involvement. Equally, we were mindful to ensure that he received all the support he required throughout the preparation phase leading up to the event itself.

“Another key feature has been the enormous support and encouragement from Ryan’s own family. It’s hard to comprehend what a massive achievement this has been for a young lad, and it has been amazing to see his growth and relentless determination to achieve and succeed throughout.

“As a club we are immensely proud of Ryan for his foresight, drive, determination, and enthusiasm to give something back to the club and the sport he loves. He is a real inspiration and example to others.”

Someone that has witnessed Ryan’s hard work and determination first-hand is his gran, Wilma Turnbull. She is proud of what her grandson has achieved both on and off the green and was inclined to nominate Ryan for his National Volunteer Award after his heroic and selfless efforts to give back to The Borders community. Wilma commented: I chose to nominate Ryan after seeing Bowls Scotland advertising the awards on Facebook. I felt it was a great achievement for a 13-year-old boy to even suggest let alone manage to outdo all his own expectations, by not only raising enough money for one but two defibrillators.

“He’s brought a safety feature that the club didn’t have before, and I hope it allows members and visitors to feel safer knowing there is a life saving device close by. I also hope it has maybe spurred on others to use their initiative and do more work for the club as without dedicated volunteers bowling clubs would not be able to survive.”

After being very humbled by receiving recognition both locally and nationally for his efforts, Ryan rounded off by sharing some of his future aspirations. He said: I was very happy to receive my award. It’s always nice to be recognised and I was very grateful that Julie Forrest came to present it to me. 

“I have many aspirations on and off the green. For now, I’m just selecting subjects at school for starting my fourth year after the summer and hope to do well with that. On the green, I hope to start by winning some competitions and progress with all the hard work I put in. The bowling green is definitely my second home!” 

Congratulations to Ryan on behalf of everyone at Bowls Scotland for receiving his thoroughly deserved National Volunteer Award! We would also like to thank Scottish internationalist, Julie Forrest, for presenting the award to Ryan at Tweedbank Indoor Bowling Club.

Applications for our next round of nominations close on Friday 1st July. For more information or to nominate someone, please visit:

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