National Volunteer Award Profile Tom Jackson
The final winner from the fifth round of Bowls Scotland National Volunteer Awards is Tom Jackson from Mauchline Bowling Club.
Tom was nominated for his long-standing commitment to volunteering, in a variety of roles and his selfless worth ethic. We spoke to Tom to find out how long he has been volunteering at Mauchline and the responsibilities he has taken on over the years…
“I always did small things at the club, be it a wee sweep up around the green or just checking the toilets. When I was working, in aeronic engineering, and having a young family I couldn’t commit a lot of time other than for bowling which was my ‘getaway hobby!’ When the kids left for their own homes I took up the mantle of Match Sec, this was about 15 years ago. Also, once I retired, 6 years ago, I started doing a bit more.”
Since taking on the role of greenkeeping, Tom has taught himself how to use a computer to help manage schedules as well as learn the basics of greenkeeping. He told us more about the work himself and other volunteers do to maintain the clubs’ much-admired playing surface…
“I was coerced into taking over the greenkeepers post, due to my pal and I saying we reckoned we could do better at that! It just seemed the right thing to do as all members should always think about the future of the bowling club and its nothing without a good playing surface. We have been doing it for four years now and although not perfect it’s improved leaps and bounds and we are very proud of our grass. The amount of satisfaction it gives me when I now see the green loaded with people playing is more than anything, there is nothing better than coming in on a morning and every rink has bowl tracks on it. I could not recommend volunteering highly enough for the amount I get out of it. Great clubs have great volunteers.
“There are now three of us helping around the playing surface and green area as it’s such a large job, it’s not just about the grass. We have set about a planned maintenance programme involving taking down fences, building walls, adding surfaces for advertisements, a new ditch system and all the general stuff that needs done. We also have a plan in place for the renewal of grass machines which has started with a new grass shaver arriving first week in June. The grass growing systems that we use is all online as is by a highly reputable greenkeeper, so we follow his programme. The internet skills we have acquired have helped us greatly, it’s been a great learning curve. When we need something, we tell the Secretary the web page and he has to try and get it within budget!!
“The rewards and benefits in a lot of cases is what you put into it. The planning of the growing of the surface takes a lot of hard work. Also, the unforeseen work like the maintaining of equipment which can be, shall we say, annoying when using outside agents. The benefits are keeping active whilst walking in a very straight line! But generally being well thought of in our local villages means a lot to me and my two co-greenkeepers.”
The hard work and commitment of volunteers like Tom was noticed by Duncan Wardrop, Secretary and Past President at Mauchline BC who submitted Tom’s nomination for the National Volunteer Award. Duncan told us more about the difference Tom makes at the club and the importance of volunteers in bowling clubs.
“Tom is a smashing guy who works tirelessly at the Bowling Club, more time than not he's there the morning after a function hoovering up! We at the club have realised that the playing surface is the main attribute we have, and Tom and his two mates Dick n Colin (not Harry!) are there everyday swishing and cutting. We used to pay for this to be handled externally, but Tom decided that they could do a better job and they do. But this was all self-taught, Tom had to learn how to use a computer which has been a feat, as he says his age was against him. By learning how to use his laptop, Tom now does as all his playing surface rotas on spreadsheets and when he now needs supplies they are sourced online. To go to all the bother at his age to learn these things is admirable. Since Tom has taken on the role as greenkeeper the surface gets better and better each year. Tom wears many hats: Greenkeeper, Match Sec, and a member of the committee, an all-round great guy!
“Mauchline is an expanding village with over 200 new houses last year, and our membership is expanding by over 10 percent the last two years. These new members are coming from the influx of new people but also people from other greens who wish to play on our great surface. We have been awarded Ayrshire ties etc and this is all down to the volunteers who do the playing surface.
“The club has also taken on the letting of the hall for local groups; Dancing groups etc. The committee has taken this decision to try and get younger people around the vicinity of the club and hopefully get them used to being at the club. Getting a new younger member creates the potential to bring 5 to 7 new members to the club; if the child bowls, mum and dad watch and might join, even with grandparents. So, youth is the key for our clubs’ longevity. So, we have to push for youth and we are looking at training coaches with the resources we have. These things all take time and take volunteers to plan and organise, so clubs need all members to buy into the ethos.”
Bowls Scotland President, Marella O’Neill, presented Tom with his award at the beginning of the 2023 season in front of club members who all continued the congratulations on the clubs’ Facebook page with tributes paid to Tom’s dedication and service to the club.
On receiving the award Tom said: “The award itself is very nice and I suppose a symbol of achievement, something to show people. When I received it from Marella it brought me close to tears as we had just suffered the loss of our Secretary, Ian Christie, who also put the hours in volunteering at the club and it brought a certain sadness to proceedings. During my acceptance speech I intimated that the award was partially for Ian.”
Huge congratulations to Tom on behalf of everyone at Bowls Scotland for receiving his thoroughly deserved National Volunteer Award!
Applications for our next round of nominations close on Friday 15th September 2023. For more information or to nominate someone, click here.