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East Down Yacht Club’s Margie Crawford Shares What’s Made Her a Successful Volunteer

19th June 2022
Margie Crawford
Margie Crawford has been volunteering for many years in a variety of roles at East Down Yacht Club on Strangford Lough

Volunteers are the bedrock of sailing and the backbone of the Royal Yachting Association’s member clubs across the UK, dedicating their valuable time to make sure sailing and boating continues to develop and that all of our sailors have a positive experience on and off the water.

At East Down Yacht Club on Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland, Margie Crawford has been volunteering for many years in a variety of roles. She tells all about her sailing and volunteering journey so far.

On her background and experience in sailing...

“I started sailing as a cadet and other dinghies at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club where my parents raced a Dragon. I joined East Down Yacht Club when I came home from working in England around 30 years ago and raced a Laser, then a Wayfarer at national and international events until 2019. I also skippered the Northern Ireland ladies’ team in the BT/RYA Women’s National Match Racing Championship in England, solo-sailed to Isle of Man and now own and race an Impala 28.”

On how she found her way into volunteering…

“I got involved as a volunteer with the youth at East Down Yacht Club (EDYC) as a family member and it continued from there, to serving in committees and eventually as commodore of EDYC. I help with sail training for beginners and improvers on Friday nights in May and June. I help with running the Icicles Winter Series (and race my Laser if my help is not required!).

“I instruct during the Youth Week every summer and we are a ‘self-help’ club so everyone does a bar duty and also for those who are qualified we do an on the water duty. In the past I have been chair of the School Sailing Association out of Killyleagh Outdoor Centre; weekend volunteer on Lord Rank (Sail Training Association NI) and assistant Youth Leader role for Belfast City Council Sail Training when I took a youth group out to Halifax Nova Scotia in 2009 to sail back to Belfast on tall ship Europa taking part in Tall Ships Atlantic Race. I was also offshore volunteer on Dublin-based tall ship Jeanie Johnston. I was also involved in delivering a programme for the recently formed RYANI Youth Forum.”

On her volunteer role and what motivates her…

“As commodore I wanted to get to know every member and realised there was a role for a new members’ contact person. So when my term has finished I offered to take on this role. It is not an ‘officer’ role as such, in that I don’t sit on committees, but I liaise with the hon secretary when membership enquires come in and make a personal approach by telephone if possible. I show them around the club and give them my contact details and they can ring me any time for information or queries.

“There are some key elements to this:

  • Always have a personal approach — by phone if possible.
  • Show them around club and give them a membership form.
  • Give contact details to ring any time for information or queries.

"When they are members I act as buddy for first year…

  • making sure they know and are introduced to the officers of the club.
  • finding out what they want from the club and any training requirements.
  • keeping them in touch with any courses/events/social gatherings

“I am happy to be the general contact for any queries in the future. If I don’t know the answer I give them details of who to contact.”

On what interests her most about volunteering and how it impacts on her and her club…

“I love meeting people and interacting at any level. The impact for me is that I have to manage my own time well and the impact for the club is that the club gets members who feel welcome. We get families/individuals who take part in lots of different on the water activities.”

On what advice she has for others…

“Make sure [you] know what is involved and enjoy chatting to people. It is not something to be done in half measures, as some new members need quite a lot of support but others just slot in as long as they know that someone is available to speak to.” Team

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About the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Northern Ireland 

  • The RYA is the national body for dinghy, yacht and motor cruising, all forms of sail racing, RIBs and sports boats, windsurfing and personal watercraft and a leading representative for inland waterways cruising.
  • The RYA is recognised by Government, the media and opinion formers as the representative body and voice for the activities that it represents. It continually fights for the rights and freedoms of its 112,000 personal members.
  • The RYA has more than 1,500 affiliated clubs and classes, which represent some 350,000 boaters throughout the UK. It is estimated that 4 million people in the UK take part in boating activity annually.
  • The RYA also sets and maintains recognised standards for training for both leisure and commercial boating through a network of more than 2,400 RYA Recognised Training Centres across 58 countries. More than 250,000 people per year complete RYA training courses.
  • The RYA is responsible for one of the UK’s most successful Olympic medal-winning sports. Our coaching and development schemes actively support 800 of our country’s top sailors, from talented juniors to Olympic and World champions.
  • The RYA is committed to promoting all forms of boating and making them accessible to everyone. For more information please visit
  • The Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland (RYA NI) acts for the RYA in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Chairman of RYA NI is invited to join the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) Policy Review Committee.
  • You can find the RYA Northern Ireland at Sketrick House, GE8, Jubilee Road, Newtownards, BT23 4YH.
  • RYA NI is a company limited by guarantee – Registration number NI 51945
  • Contact RYA NI: Tel: 02891 827154 email: [email protected]