Happy International Volunteer Day from our very own volunteers!
Today is International Volunteer Day and, as an entirely volunteer-led organisation, we wanted to highlight some of the people we have within our team, and the opportunities available to anyone interested in getting involved.
We spoke to three of our volunteers to learn more about what they do. Maeghan Sheehan is part of the communications team, Claire Hatton is part of the membership team and looks after our North West Regional Group; and Annabel Cook is Deputy Chairwoman, Communications and Marketing Lead and membership retention sponsor.
Why did you join us and what is your volunteer role in the BWPA?
“I joined in the spring of this year as I was new to flying and knew very little about the industry. I had just started working towards my Private Pilot Licence and am aiming to carry on to my Commercial Pilot Licence next year. I had initially joined because I read about the scholarships available. When I was added to the South Region’s WhatsApp group, I started to chat to other members and like-minded people which was great. When Annabel asked for someone to help write an article for Top Gun Day I volunteered to put something together… and here I am! I help with some of the news pieces for the website, which has involved working with many different people across the BWPA, as well as aviation aficionados and professionals across the industry.”
“I have been a member on and off for 25 years, after initially seeing an advert in a Pooley’s diary when I was at university. I had wanted to be a pilot since I was 14 years old, so when I saw an advertisement looking for new members, I wrote a letter to the BWPA to join. Nowadays, it is much easier to sign up – you can join online! My day-to-day role within the BWPA is as Membership Coordinator, answering queries from new members and signing them up. It fits in really well around my life as a working mum which is great. I also look after the North West Region, which involves passing on relevant information from organisations such as the Civil Aviation Authority as well as scholarship information. I love flying and talking about flying, which is why I have stayed involved for such a long time.”
“I first volunteered about eight years ago; at that time, we had no social media presence and, as I have a professional background in communications, I offered to set up a couple of channels. Next thing I knew, I was on committee! It has been like the proverbial snowball: from posting on Twitter and Facebook I went on to establish branding and style guidelines to help us make sure our colours, fonts and writing are professional and consistent; designed print materials including postcards, business cards and pull up banners to assist with recruiting new members at events; lead a redevelopment of the website to the glorious beast you are reading this on; helped revamp our scholarship process… the list goes on!
“To help keep all the plates spinning, I have recruited four more volunteers to build a small but mighty communications team. It has been really rewarding to work with them as we all learn from and support each other; with life as well as with BWPA work. I’m keen to find opportunities to teach people, so it was wonderful that earlier this year one of the communications team used the skills she had gained to secure a new role and progress her career.”
What would you say to anyone looking to volunteer with us?
“Do it! There are plenty of opportunities available. I started with one article and now write two or three a month, covering such a range of topics. I have learned a lot about the industry, developed my writing skills, and met some interesting and fun people along the way – including Annabel and Claire! It is very rewarding and you always have a great support network around you if you have questions or just need a listening ear.”
“There are a variety of different roles available and volunteering can fit around your day-to-day commitments. I work full time and have a family, but my roles within the BWPA fit around this. We are all volunteers so understand that we have other commitments outside of our roles.”
“I would encourage anyone interested in getting involved to do so. It is thanks to previous volunteering experience that I have a career I love; you get back much more than you put in! It has been great to see how much the BWPA has grown and developed recently. It can be hard work, and I think that many people don’t realise the committee and off-committee team are all just normal members who volunteer their time. But the positive and constructive vibe in the Association and sharing all that our members are achieving keeps me inspired.”
If you are interested in volunteering with us, please get in touch.