Posted: 26 June 2024

As part of sportscotland #VolunteerInSport month, we would like to shine the spotlight on our 2023 Volunteer of the Year, Ailie Ord.

Ailie has been a prominent volunteer in rowing for many years supporting her clubs (formerly St Andrew Boat Club and currently Strathclyde Park Rowing Club) as a long-standing committee member and coach She is currently assisting Scottish Rowing as lead coach to para-athlete, Jake Woods, who recently competed for GB in the World Rowing Cup III. She has also been heavily involved with Scottish Rowing as an Umpire, providing valuable insight and support to many events across the years. Not only does Ailie volunteer but she also competes rather successfully at a high level both at home and internationally. 

Ailie Boat

Image: Ailie christening her named boat at Spring Regatta in 2023.
Credit: Holly Jones.


We asked Ailie some questions about her volunteering experience:

How did you become a volunteer?
Both my parents, and particularly my mother, did a lot of volunteer work so it’s partly due to my upbringing. My mother was a helper at Stirling Riding for the Disabled all through my childhood - an organisation that she became chairman of for many years. She also put together their newsletter and I witnessed many hours of work in the dining room. My father was involved with the Scottish Ski Club of which he was president for a number of years - many weekends in my early childhood were spent at Cairngorms and Glencoe. 

When I took up rowing in my early 20s, my coaches were all volunteers and it seemed only right to put back something into the sport I loved. I decided to go down the umpiring route at first as I didn’t think I’d make a very good coach, but also ended up doing some coaching training under the watchful eye of the late Alastair Moir. As a member of St Andrew Boat Club, it wasn’t long before I stepped into the role of Secretary for a number of years before becoming the First Lady Captain. Committee meetings were enjoyable (often fuelled by beer at the Gillsland Hotel) and it was fun helping to run the Club, albeit hard work at times.

Peter Morrison is also responsible for getting me more involved. He knew the difficulties I had with the word ‘no’ and before long I was involved in the SARA Regatta Organising Committee and putting together “Rowing Action”.


Why have you continued to volunteer?
I guess I still enjoying “giving back” to the sport that has become so much of my life.  I have time to do so and it feels ‘right’.


What’s your favourite role to do?
Don’t really know!
I’m quite enjoying the treasurer’s job at our club (Strathclyde Park Rowing Club).

Coaching can be rewarding and my role with Jake over the last 18 months has been particularly so.

It’s also pretty amazing standing in the Start Tower at Strathclyde Park overlooking the racing course and getting the masters handicap races away in good order. I’m particularly proud that the final race of the Scottish Championships this year started 3 minutes early!


What's the best part about being a volunteer?
Fellow volunteers - rowing is like a family and I have so many friends who also give of their time willingly.


Do you think you will continue to volunteer?
Can’t see it stopping anytime soon! 


Ailie is a credit to the rowing community, and we know there are many others like her in the clubs across Scotland. Laura Graham, Captain at Strathclyde Park Rowing Club, spoke about how crucial Ailie has been to the club.

Without Ailie, there is no SPRC. She is the absolute backbone of the club and there is seemingly nothing she cannot do! She has been our President, Junior Coach, and now Treasurer but she is much more than all those things. Ailie is the person we turn to with any questions about boats, rigging, competition strategies, training tips, and rules of racing. She leads by example in her absolute and unwavering dedication to her training but she is also incredibly generous and unselfish with her time in helping others progress too. Ailie has been a massive inspiration and support to me personally since I started rowing and even after nearly twenty years I still learn from her every day! 

Ailie has an absolute heart of gold, matching the usual colour of her countless medals and it's also pretty handy having Scotland's top trailer driver at the club too! Ailie, for all you do for us, thank you!”

 Ailie Mas

Image: Ailie with pairs partner, Gillian, at the World Rowing Master's Regatta in 2019.
Credit: Provided by Gillian Connal.


We would like to say a huge thank you to Ailie for all her hard work and dedication throughout the years. Also, to all the members who give their time to make rowing a truly wonderful sport to be a part of in Scotland, thank you!

We encourage all clubs to highlight their volunteers in-person and online - our volunteers are the backbone of our community. Be sure to tag us @scottishrowing and include the hashtag #VolunteerInSport in any social media posts so that we can share them with the whole community!