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Supporting a community

A volunteer helps make sport happen in Blairgowrie

Volunteers play a major role in making sport happen. Up and down the country thousands of volunteers give up their time every week to support others to participate in sport and physical activity. Without them, sport simply would not happen.

Susan Whiteford is one of these volunteers and she plays a major role in making sure sport plays its part in Blairgowrie and the wider communities of Eastern Perthshire.

Susan’s love for sport began at an early age, playing cricket with her dad and friends at the local playground using the lampposts for wickets, or playing tennis out on the streets, trying to avoid cars as they drove past.

After years of building many happy memories participating in sport, Susan has been keen to give back and uses sport as a vehicle to improve people’s lives and get as many people active as possible.

Susan not only runs the Blairgowrie Hockey and Tennis clubs, but she is also the treasurer for the Eastern Perthshire Community Sports Hub, part of the national sportscotland community sport hubs network that brings sports clubs and community organisations together to improve the contribution sport and physical activity has within communities across Scotland.

For both the tennis and hockey clubs she coaches, officiates, and organises fixtures and open days – just about everything you could ask for from a community club. Susan launched a junior section at the hockey club which is thriving, with over 60 young people attending sessions, and runs a tennis programme which aims to help adults recovering from mental illness rebuild their lives.

Susan’s role with Eastern Perthshire CSH may be as treasurer, but her involvement goes above and beyond that. In 2022, she was instrumental in planning and organising the local Mini-Olympics which brought the Blairgowrie cluster primary schools to JJ Coupar Recreation Park to enjoy a range of sports and physical activities. Every February she organises a come and try day for primary school pupils to try out sports from the hub. As well as that, Susan was central to the successful funding application for the Fun Fit Families project. A project that the NHS have funded to run family sessions in the local primary schools.

On top of her work with the clubs, Susan spends a large amount of her time supporting young people within schools. She has delivered free hockey and tennis sessions through Active Schools to all 10 schools in the Blairgowrie cluster, runs a lunchtime tennis club at Blairgowrie High School, and delivered a volunteering talk to S2 pupils to inspire pupils to volunteer within the local clubs and how volunteering can impact on their employability.

She mentors for the Blairgowrie High School Motivation, Commitment and Resilience pathway which involves 1:1 work with disengaged pupils, where she delivers sport and activities to develop the pupils skills and confidence – even managing to encourage some of her friends to mentor, supporting more young people through the programme.

At the High School, Susan is also part of the health and wellbeing strategic group. A group aimed to identify and develop a strategic plan for the area, to improve local priorities in health and wellbeing.

It's clear to see Susan’s passion for supporting others, specifically young people, as she says:

“I love giving back. If something needs doing, and I can help, then I will!

“It can be frustrating and hard at times, but on the whole it’s incredibly rewarding, especially working with children. I have a real passion for making sport accessible to everyone and seeing what young people gain from sport and my support is hugely fulfilling.”

Susan’s volunteering hasn’t gone unnoticed and the local community greatly appreciate the work she does in making the community a better and more active place.

Pete McDougall, Community Sport Hub Officer for LiveActive said: “Susan is incredible. She’s not just a coach, but a mentor, an official, a hub treasurer, an active member of strategic groups, a tutor and at the heart of it all she cares a great deal about those around her.

“I can’t believe how Susan finds the time for all these activities.

"Without everything that Susan does as a volunteer there simply would not be nearly as many opportunities for children and adults to benefit from taking part in sport in Blairgowrie.”

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