National Volunteer Award Profile - Shirley Christie

The first winner from the fourth round of Bowls Scotland National Volunteer Awards is Shirley Christie from Ellon Bowling Club.

Shirley has been a member of Ellon Bowling Club for six years, but it is only in the last couple of years she has begun to lend her hand at volunteering in various different roles, and what an impact she has made in that time. After becoming one of the clubs coaches Shirley has helped transform Ellon BC’s fortunes as membership numbers have steadily increased courtesy of numerous successful recruitment events.

Speaking on her coaching role, Shirley said:

“I have been volunteering at the club for a couple of years, however, this last year I have been much more involved. I love seeing new players improving every time they play and seeing the kids from the summer school I did this year really getting involved and asking lots of questions about bowls.”

In March 2022, Shirley completed the Bowls Scotland Intro to Bowls Coaching Award which has improved her knowledge and confidence as a coach. Since then, she has hosted a number of major events at Ellon BC including a Try Bowls day, summer bowls sessions with local primary schools and even actively encouraged her friends, family and work colleagues to get involved in the sport too!

When asked about her favourite memory, Shirley found it impossible to pick just one, and said:

“I loved doing the IBCA course and I am very keen to do Level 1, I feel more relaxed in helping new players and used a lot of the ideas with new bowlers and with the children.

“I have lots of memories from the last couple of years from taking my work colleagues along for an afternoon to having over 70 people come to our Try Bowls day. I really enjoy seeing the kids’ faces when they all received a wee trophy or a medal at the end of our summer school week. I also loved it when we hosted a beginners trophy this year in September, the green was full and the 16 players enjoyed playing a competition against each other.”

It’s not just at Ellon Bowling Club where Shirley’s hard work and selfless efforts are appreciated. Throughout the North East region, neighbouring clubs are beginning to take notice of the progress being made at Ellon. This was perfectly demonstrated when Shirley was nominated by Ian Hepworth, a Bowls Scotland Tutor and member of Peterhead Bowling Club.

Ian first met Shirley on the IBCA course and has continued to be impressed by the ongoing transformation at Ellon BC. He said:

“When Shirley was on the IBCA course she mentioned a number of things that she was planning to do as a coach, bringing younger members into the club and general club development.

“I'm a member at Peterhead Bowling Club and our paths crossed a number of times during the season at league games and an AHT game at Ellon. Each time we met Shirley told me what she was doing and how more people were coming to the club.

“Like most clubs, people like Shirley are the type of people who muck in and do things for the benefit of their clubs, and they do it every day without fuss or bother. When they step down or stop volunteering for one reason or another they are missed. I could probably nominate half a dozen people from clubs in Buchan who would be worthy winners of a National Volunteer Award. The difference with Shirley was pretty much she delivered on everything that was promised and will have helped Ellon Bowling club survive for the future.”

To Shirley’s surprise, she was recently presented with her National Volunteer Award and now looks forward to a big year at Ellon Bowling Club where she will serve as the clubs President for 2023. Once again, Shirley demonstrated her selflessness by offering advice to other clubs looking to follow a similar path. She said:

“I know it can be a big struggle to try and get new players and I guess we are lucky in a way that we are the only club in our town. I think you need to advertise that you are having a Try Bowls day, whether it is online, in shops, bars, schools or word of mouth etc, even putting a leaflet through doors of houses and flats that are close to your club. I feel many people don’t even know there is a bowling club nearby so the leaflets can spark an interest.  

“I offered coaching sessions after our Try Bowls day for six weeks. I made it the same time every week, so they knew it was on. I also put it online on our local town Facebook page and we managed to get 6 more new members through this. You need to get as many of your current members to get their PVG as this really helps to keep everything running correctly and safely.

“I would also like to say a big thank you to Ian for nominating me, it makes it feel that all the work you put in is worth it. Many members of my club have also been brilliant and helped out in all aspects from Try Bowls, summers school, coaching sessions and the beginners trophy so also a big thank you to all of them as I could not have done it without their help too.”

Congratulations to Shirley on behalf of everyone at Bowls Scotland for receiving her thoroughly deserved National Volunteer Award!

Applications for our next round of nominations close on Friday 3rd March 2023. For more information or to nominate someone, click here.

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