Volunteer of the Year award for Oban sailing club member
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.’