Last month we had the pleasure of sitting down and having a conversation with this year’s Volunteer of the Year, Jenny Montague.
Jenny was nominated by a member of her club, Oval Ski Club and was selected as a very worthy winner by a panel back in the summer. Sitting down to chat with Jenny, it became quickly very obvious as to why she was nominated; we smiled throughout the conversation; her passion was completely infectious!
Emma, who nominated Jenny, described her as selfless, kind, someone who gives all her heart to her volunteering and who enables others to flourish.
“The oval wouldn’t be the oval without her and we are all very grateful for EVERYTHING she does at the club and in the community.”
We started our conversation by discussing what it meant to Jenny to be nominated.
“It makes you feel recognised and appreciated. Nobody volunteers for any expectation of a reward; it just gives you self-satisfaction. All volunteers are valued. But it is wonderful to know that someone values you and has taken their own time and effort to give you some recognition.”
Jenny described feeling blown away at the news, pleased to know that people within the club thought that much of her. And even more shocked to find out that an external group had read the application and announced her the winner!
We went on to talk about Oval Ski Club, where Jenny does most of her volunteering. The club have been running for over 40 years, based in the Wirral its one of the country’s smallest slopes, but not to be underestimated. The club deliver ski lessons for beginners right through to their ski racing team and everything in between; including lots of community work with local schools and groups such as scouts. Jenny was so proud of the club, sharing so many wonderful stories of the impact the club has in the community, for its members and their families. You can see how much this club means to her.
Jenny reminisced about the multitude of social activities the club runs; bringing people together both on and off the slope; giving a real family feel to its members; a small community run entirely by volunteers. This led us to discuss one of the main reasons Jenny was nominated.
Jenny has been pivotal in the design and development of Oval Ski Clubs monthly ladies’ sessions. Upon realising there was a gap in their provision; for ladies in particular; Jenny alongside another female instructor set about to develop the session with the aim of creating a space where women could ski, grow their technique and in turn confidence at a pace that suited them, with no pressure to go fast or too high. They achieved just that, and the sessions have grown and grown from one initial pilot to a regular session at the club.
Jenny described the culture of the session of warm, friendly and relaxed.
“You are not alone! That was key; we noticed some ladies wanted a different environment, and that’s okay. In these sessions we are all in it together, either on the slope or after.”
The group are a small community, with friendship at the core. Tea and coffee after are a must; and the most important part of all are the home-made cakes; of course made by Jenny herself fresh for every session!
To finish off, we discussed Jenny’s journey. This started around ten years ago when her and her husband decided to try out the club after hearing about it from a colleague. She quickly became hooked! When asked about when she stepped from participant to volunteer; it was clear Jenny wanted to give back.
“The club has given me so much. Absolute confidence. I wanted to repay this, so I started out doing the teas and coffees and helping in the hut.”
Ten years on; Jenny is a qualified ski instructor and also sits on the club committee as treasurer; using her skillset to give back. Taking those first lessons has changed her life; and in so many positive ways. She got sucked in by our wonderful sport; it never felt like a conscious decision but it has truly become a part of her lifestyle.
We wrapped up by asking Jenny what piece of advice she would give to anyone looking to volunteer?
“Do it. You will get something out of it. You just don’t know what opportunity it will bring. I started making teas and coffee and now an instructor and sat here having won a prize with Snowsport England. Just go for it.”
The whole team want to pass on our congratulations to Jenny and thank every volunteer within our sport. As part of our Inspiring Snowsport strategy, we have plans to do even more to reward and recognise the wonderful people in our sport; so if you know someone like Jenny please tell us! Or if you want to be more like Jenny and get involved head to www.snowsportengland.org.uk to find out about volunteering opportunities; how to become and instructor and more. For more information contact email@example.com.