Vol­un­teer of the Year award for Oban sail­ing club mem­ber

The Oban Times - - SPORT -

BILLY Forteith of Oban Sail­ing Club (OSC) has been awarded the RYA Scot­land Vol­un­teer of the Year Award spon­sored by Clyde Chal­lenger. He was pre­sented with the award at the an­nual din­ner held in Glas­gow Sci­ence Cen­tre.

For nearly 40 years, Billy has been a stal­wart vol­un­teer at OSC on many days of the week, help­ing, or­gan­is­ing and sup­port­ing the cal­en­dar of ac­tiv­i­ties and show­ing a re­mark­able com­mit­ment to the club.

Billy said: ‘I was pleas­antly sur­prised and ex­tremely honoured to have been short­listed for such an award. It is amaz­ing to have won it. I en­joy vol­un­teer­ing with a pas­sion for Oban SC and love to see oth­ers en­joy sail­ing as much as I do, both adults and young peo­ple.’

Billy has as­sisted in most of the vol­un­teer roles dur­ing his time as a mem­ber since the early 1980s and has been on the OSC com­mit­tee al­most con­tin­u­ously. He be­came club com­modore in the early 1990s. He still sits on the hand­i­cap com­mit­tee and reg­u­larly as­sists with race of­fi­cer du­ties at the club.

Billy has also vol­un­teered with Oban Lifeboat Sta­tion for 41 years and holds a gold badge for his ser­vice to the RNLI.

For the past 20 years, Billy has been the main or­gan­iser of OSC’s pop­u­lar Round Mull Race – now in its 31st year. Dur­ing his in­volve­ment Billy has or­ches­trated the race or­gan­i­sa­tion, en­sur­ing its suc­cess year on year. Not only does this in­volve the smooth run­ning of the rac­ing side but the pro­mo­tion and han­dling of race en­tries, or­gan­is­ing the open­ing re­cep­tion buf­fet and co­or­di­nat­ing the on-shore so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties. Billy is also a highly suc­cess­ful com­peti­tor in the event.

His ef­fort has en­sured the race has be­come a real jewel in the west coast sail­ing cal­en­dar with en­tries con­sis­tently around 40 boats – all the more impressive when other race events have de­clined in num­bers. This, says OSC, is down to Billy’s love of the race, his spirit and his hard work. His vol­un­teer spirit was demon­strated in one re­mark­able 12-month pe­riod.

Af­ter or­gan­is­ing the race in 2006, he was taken se­verely ill when com­pet­ing and air­lifted to hos­pi­tal in Glas­gow. His con­di­tion was so poor that he nearly didn’t make it. How­ever, against all the odds, Billy re­cov­ered and, un­daunted, im­me­di­ately set about or­gan­is­ing the fol­low­ing year’s event.

Billy’s great sup­port of OSC and con­tri­bu­tion as a mem­ber of the re­cent com­mit­tees also helped OSC be­ing awarded Sail­ing Club of the Year for 2015.

Billy is a great sup­porter of west coast sail­ing gen­er­ally and the Ar­gyll area in par­tic­u­lar. At last year’s Glen­coe Re­gatta, the com­modore pub­li­cally ac­knowl­edged his long-stand­ing at­ten­dance at the event and his com­mit­ment to sail­ing in the area.

Billy reg­u­larly brings po­ten­tial new mem­bers out to sail in lo­cal club races. Many of these peo­ple have sub­se­quently gone on to join OSC with some con­tin­u­ing to hold se­nior roles within the club or­gan­i­sa­tion. This wel­com­ing at­ti­tude and will­ing­ness to get peo­ple on the wa­ter has given the club a real vi­tal­ity.

Finlo Cot­tier, com­modore of Oban Sail­ing Club, said: ‘Oban Sail­ing Club is ab­so­lutely de­lighted that the many years of work and en­thu­si­asm that Billy has put into the club has been recog­nised and re­warded. The sport can only flour­ish with such ded­i­cated vol­un­teers who give so much of their time to their lo­cal club. Billy is well known through­out the Scot­tish sail­ing com­mu­nity and I’m sure many will be equally de­lighted by this award.’

Photo: Dougie Bell

Billy Forteith.

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