Tag: Development

SOA Development Director – Mary Williams – talks about her role

In May 2023 Keith Dawson, the President of SOA, bemoaned the fact that the SOA might fall apart due to the lack of people volunteering for SOA Board roles. The SOA is the channel that funds the various tours, coaching, training courses and international competitions that has given me and my family many hours of enjoyment and it was a wakeup call that I it was time for me, as a retired person, to give something back to the sport. 

I have been orienteering since my student days at Bangor University, when I beat Carol MacNeil in the British University Championships.  I have since competed at a lower level for ESOC; run for my country a couple of times and have feedback about the top athletes through my daughter Claire Ward who represented the British Orienteering Team for a number of years. I haven’t been that active in the club’s organising and planning scene as I am not a very precise or neat person. I spent the last 20 years of my professional career as a Vocational Curriculum Development Manager at home and abroad.  This involved working with both the teachers, the ministries of education/training and the Industrial lead bodies to develop training systems and curriculum that matched the needs of all the interested parties.  I see the role of Development Director as a similar role, but working with orienteers, clubs, SOA and Sport Scotland as the main players – all of whom want to see the sport of orienteering grow and flourish as a fun sport for all.  At the SOA Board meeting on the 4thSeptember 2023, I was coopted onto the SOA board as Development Director. This post had been vacant for over 6 months!

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2023 Autumn shenanigans and selections announced for Scottish Juniors

Autumn is a busy time for the Scottish Junior Orienteering Squad (ScotJOS) as we bid farewell to those heading off to University, welcome in the new squad and compete at the Junior Home Internationals (JHIs) and Junior Inter Regional Championships (JIRCs). With the JIRCs in Wales and 2 weeks later the JHIs in Birmingham –  the Scots were on tour.  Read on to catch up with all the ScotJOS news …

Junior Inter Regional Championships

The Junior Inter-Regional Championships were held in South Wales at the end of September. This sees teams of juniors from all 12 British Orienteering regions compete against each other with individual races on the Saturday and relays on the Sunday – and lots of time for fun and games in between.

Junior Inter-Regional Team

To make the loooong journey more bearable for the juniors (and accompanying adults!), they set off by coach on the Friday afternoon with an overnight stop in Birmingham planned. In the spirit of the event we even allowed a few North West, Yorkshire and Irish juniors to join us on the coach as they were now based in Scotland.  With lots of quizzes and singing (and food!) to keep us going we arrived in Wales in good spirits to some lovely sunshine.

The Individuals were held at Kenfig Burrows – a complex area of sand dunes on the South coast. After the application of the necessary war paint (and the adults attempts to build a  better flag pole than the Welsh team’s)  there was time to meet up with friends, play some football – oh and do some orienteering! 

The team all performed fantastically with Scotland securing a strong lead (27 points) over the other teams. There were medals for Douglas MacDonald (INVOC) who was 1st in M14, Laurence Ward (INT) 3rd in M16, James Hammond (FVO) 1st in M18, Ruth Gooch (MAROC) 1st in W16, Emily Atkinson (ELO) 3rd in W16, Isobel Howard (MOR) 2nd in W18 and Daisy McNamara (AYROC) 3rd in W18. Ruth Gooch also won the award for Best Individual Performance thanks to an impressive four and half minute lead on the W16 course. 

Ruth winning the Best Individual Performance Trophy

The teams all retired to Rougemont School in Newport for the evening for food, football, prize giving, more quizzes, a quick moonlit Strip the Willow and then bed on the gym hall and dining room floors. 

The weather changed for the Sunday and we set off in the rain for Llantrisant forest for the relays.  This was a steep wooded hillside crossed by forestry tracks, and mountain bike trails. The arena was towards the top of the area and there was lots of climb in all the courses. The woodland was also very “green” in places.

The boys relay set off, followed by the girls to lots of noise. The teams run with a 16, then a 14 and finally an 18 on the last leg. A run through mid-course gave us a chance to cheer on further before we waited expectantly for them to appear back out the forest and run up the track to the handover area. The Scottish teams set off strongly with our juniors leading the packs but then the dreaded miss punches of relays started to appear. With the two hotly tipped men’s teams (Scotland 1 and South Central 1) disqualified, the race was open. The Scotland 2 team of Finn Duguid, Calum Robertson and Adam Barrie successfully brought the win home for Scotland.  In the girls race Daisy McNamara had an excellent 3rd leg  overtaking several teams to return first only to discover their team was disqualified due to an earlier miss punch. However Scotland 1 returned next picking up Gold for Ruth Gooch, Esme Kelly and Isobel Howard.

Winning boys and girls relay teams

Overall Yorkshire and Humberside took the win the relays with 261 points with Scotland 2nd on 258 points. However with the strong win on the individuals, Scotland retained the Junior Inter-Regional Championship trophy. As well as the trophy’s for the men’s overall and women’s overall.

A tired but victorious group of juniors boarded the coach for the loooooong trip back North.

Huge thanks to Swansea Bay Orienteering Club for organising the event. For a small club to put on both the individual and relay events was very impressive. The juniors were delighted to see Megan Carter-Davies and Ben Mitchell running the computing – it’s not often you turn up at an event to have a current World Champion running the download! 

Full results for both races and the points are available at https://www.sboc.org.uk/results

Two weeks later the juniors hit the road again to head to Birmingham for the Junior Home Internationals. Armed with more quizzes for the journey and plenty of food we headed south by coach again, picking up some of the English team from the Lakes on the way.  We did draw the line at them trying to display the St George’s Cross on our bus though!

Both days of the competition were held at Sutton Park in Birmingham, with the juniors staying overnight at Beaudesert Scout Camp. Whilst Scotland was battered by rain, we headed to Sutton Park in glorious sunshine ready to take on the other nations.  With face paint applied the juniors headed to the start whilst the adults waited for them to appear at the spectator control and bemoaned the fact they had forgotten the binoculars again as they tried to identify who was approaching! There was a lot of fast running on paths but lots of vegetation to catch out the unsuspecting. Although the running was fast, mistakes were costly with relocation difficult.

Junior Home Internationals

The team all performed fantastically with Scotland scoring 72 points – only 5 points behind England. There were medals for Douglas MacDonald (INVOC) who was 1st in M14, Finn Duguid (TAY) 2nd on M16, James Hammond (FVO) 1st on M18, Adam Barrie (MAR) 2nd on M18, Lucy Ward (INT) 3rd on W14,   Isobel Howard (MOR) 2nd in W18 and Iris Macmillan (ECKO) 3rd in W18.

It was then time to head back to Beaudesert, with an ice-cream stop on the way, for more fun and games in the sunshine. The weather was so pleasant that the evening’s ceilidh was held outdoors in part of the walled garden illuminated with floodlights. Although not traditional Scottish dancing, we were treated to a hilarious mix of fun dances which everyone managed to find the energy to join in with.

On Sunday – after a slightly belated start due to mechanical problems with the coach door we headed to the southern part of Sutton Park for the relays. The girls headed off first with the boys start 10 minutes later. From the start they disappeared straight into the undergrowth and we were left with an anxious wait for the 1st runners to appear at the spectator control.

Finn Duguid had a great 1st leg for the boys returning in 1st position, and handing over to Douglas. Rory Black then appeared chasing the England’s Tommy Rollins. The English however overtook on the 2nd leg and James Hammond fought hard on the final leg to take the silver for the Scotland 1 team. The Scotland 2 team of Finlay McLuckie, Calum Robertson and Adam Barrie finished in 5th place.

The W16 and W18 1st Leg Juniors

Finn Duguid had a great 1st leg for the boys returning in 1st position, and handing over to Douglas. Rory Black then appeared chasing the England’s Tommy Rollins. The English however overtook on the 2nd leg and James Hammond fought hard on the final leg to take the silver for the Scotland 1 team. The Scotland 2 team of Finlay McLuckie, Calum Robertson and Adam Barrie finished in 5th place.

The W14 and M14 second leg runners
The W18 and M18 3rd leg runners

In the girls relay Ruth Gooch had a strong 1st leg handing over to Esme Kelly in 2nd place. Isobel Howard then set off on third leg with a mission to catch the English runners, but was thwarted by some badly behaved dogs who made access to one control difficult. However, the Scots 1st team still finished in 4th place, with the team of Ellie Darlow, Eilidh Connor and Daisy McNamara in 5th.

The final scores for the relays were England 58 points and Scotland 46 points, meaning that England took the victory in the Junior Home Internationals. Congratulations to England.

A special mention to Ruari Cottier who brought his bagpipes and piped back all the final leg Scottish runners, helping to give them the energy for the final sprint to the finish.  We may not have won the JHIs but Scotland certainly won on team spirit and determination. Well done to a great team. Full results for both races and the points are available at https://wmoa.org.uk/wp/junior-home-internationals-6th-8th-october-2023/

Selections for ScotJOS 2023/24

With the 2nd year 18’s heading off to University, the new squad for 2023/24 has been selected. Congratulations to everyone selected – we hope that you will make the most of the opportunity to improve your orienteering whilst having lots of fun on the way. There are 6 camps planned throughout the year, as well as a summer tour to Scandinavia to look forward to.

Congratulations to the following juniors:-

Alexander HuntFVOLucy WardINT
Angus LairdINVOCMaja RobertsonESOC
Anna HowardMORMatthew InmanFVO
Calum RobertsonESOCMegan BrownESOC
Charlotte BurtonINVOCMichael BishendenMOR
Douglas McDonaldINVOCPeter OwenFVO
Eilidh ConnorFVOFinn Selmer DuguidTAY
Ellie DarlowRRRebecca HammondFVO
Emily AtkinsonELORona LairdINVOC
Esme KellyFVORory BlackINVOC
Finlay CottierECKORosie McNamaraAYROC
Finlay McLuckieMORRuari CottierECKO
Hazel CloadINVOCRuth GoochMAR
Henrik BorrowmanINVOCSam HuntFVO
Iona ScottINVOCScarlett BritainMOR
James HammondFVOScarlett KellyFVO
Kate McLuckieMORSophie HowardMOR
Katie HensmanFVOYann NeweyMAR
Laurence WardINT 

Selection for Talent Scotland

In addition to the Scottish Junior Squad there is also the British Orienteering Talent Scotland Squad, which in conjunction with Talent North and Talent South from the tier 3 of the British Orienteering Performance Pathway.  ScotJOS aims to provide a friendly supportive team in which to develop as an orienteer, with the Talent Squad helping the juniors to develop towards being an elite athlete. With a stronger focus on athlete development, it works with a subset of the ScotJOS juniors, providing additional Sports Science and Race Preparation camps as well as a series of online workshops.

Congratulations to the following juniors who were selected to be part of Talent Scotland for 2023/24

Angus LairdINVOC
Ellie DarlowRR
Emily AtkinsonELO
Finlay McLuckieMOR
Iona ScottINVOC
James HammondFVO
Kate McLuckieMOR
Laurence WardINT
Maja RobertsonESOC
Michael BishendenMOR
Finn Selmer DuguidTAY
Rebecca HammondFVO
Rory BlackINVOC
Ruari CottierECKO
Ruth GoochMAR
Sam HuntFVO
Scarlett KellyFVO
Sophie HowardMOR
Yann NeweyMAR

Thank You

Finally a huge thank you to everyone who helps support the Scottish Juniors – parents, clubs, coaches, cake buyers! –  we couldn’t do it without all your support.

In particular a huge thank you to Marjorie Mason from MAROC who has been the ScotJOS treasurer for the past 10 years, and does the most amazingly efficient job to support the ScotJOS team. She has however decided that it is time for her to move on and we are seeking a new treasurer. Marjorie had kindly offered to shadow them for the 1st year to help settle into the role. If you feel this role could be for you, please get in touch. 

If anyone is interested in helping ScotJOS but feel that accounting isn’t for them, there are lots of ways to be involved – planning exercises, coaching in the forest, hanging controls, shadowing, cooking, driving, herding, ordering kit, organising fundraising. If you would like to volunteer or find out more please get in touch with Judy at scotjos@scottish-orienteering.org.

New Lead Development Officer appointed

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Louise Adams as the new Lead Development Officer for SOA. From a field of high quality applicants for the post, Louise’s excitement and enthusiasm for the World Orienteering Championships coming to Edinburgh in 2024 made her the obvious choice to work with our existing development officer, Heidi Ross.

A graduate from Edinburgh University, Louise is a qualified orienteering coach who has coached both on Junior Regional Orienteering Squads (JROS) Tours and here in Scotland. She is originally from South Yorkshire, is now a member of Interlopers, and based in Edinburgh.

Heidi and Louise will work together to meet the needs of the clubs, regions and development pathway projects under the SOA remit. Having moved away from having an identified development officer for each region, Heidi and Louise will will in the first instance be working together to ensure that the proposals by Baroudeur to Make the Most out of WOC and the current development projects are taken forward. For any club requiring support please contact Louise louise@scottish-orienteering.org or Heidi heidi@scottish-orienteering.org

Performance Manager to promote retention of 20-39 age group

Having established that we need to find a way to retain and grow the key demographic of 20-39, the SOA Board have appointed Graham Gristwood as Scottish Orienteering Performance Manager working 2 days a month from 1st September. 

Photo Credit: Rob Lines

Graham brings both his experience as GB athlete and that of a level 3 licensed coach who has worked in a variety of coaching roles for both clubs and at a personal level.  His role is one aimed at both the support of elite athletes as well as helping to encourage retention of orienteers in the sport between 20 and 39.  To address any conflict of interest regarding WOC 2024 ( as Graham was one of the WOC mappers, and previously was Technical Director before COVID delays), Graham will only be working on forest based support until after WOC 2024.

In order to develop orienteers aged between 20 -39, he will aim to work not only with Scotjos leavers but any athletes in the age group who are running at TD 5 and based in Scotland.  The aim is to encourage these athletes to remain in the sport through coaching trips and social elements as well as helping high level coaching development in Scotland.

At the elite level, Graham will help prepare Scottish based athletes when they either represent Scotland at the Senior Home Internationals or are selected to represent GB.  Athletes and their coaches will be engaged on a one to one level with Graham developing a regular program through the year to provide not just training but coordination of transport to event. The hope is to develop a team feel where people are proud to represent Scotland.

If any athletes would like to be included on mailing list or if any licensed coaches are interested in working with the programme please get in touch with Graham directly on grahamgristwood@scottish-orienteering.org

Community Conversation for July looks at Club Development Plans

On a club committee or have an interest in ensuring your club has a plan for its future? Tune in to the July Community Conversation where our development conversation will lead a discussion on club development plans. We have two clubs lined up to provide attendees with their experience of using a development plans and how they used them to drive their clubs forward. There will be time for lots of questions.

The session will be held online on Monday 3rd July at 7pm. To sign up please email nikki@scottish-orienteering.org for

May’s discussion focuses on the Making the Most of WOC 2024 Project

May’s Community Conversation provided those who attended an insight into why the Making the Most of WOC 2024 Report was commissioned by the Scottish Orienteering Association and the British Orienteering Federation, how the consultants Baroudeur carried out their research and the conclusions drawn as a result of the research.

For those who were unable to attend, a copy of the slides can be found here

The next Community Conversation will be the SOA AGM on 5th June 2023. Those who wish to propose any matters of business to be heard at the AGM should contact nikki@scottish-orienteering.org

With the retiral of current board members there are several board positions which the SOA are looking to fill and we ask anyone interested to speak to a current board member or contact nikki@scottish-orienteering.org The board positions available at the AGM are President, Operations Director, Development Director, Marketing and Communications Director and Equality, Welfare and Diversity Director.

Introducing Will Hall

Moravian Orienteering Club’s New Development Officer 

Last month we were excited to announce that Moravian Orienteering Club has appointed a new Development Officer – Will Hall. Club development officers are central to the development of a club. Club development officers help to lead the development of a club’s volunteer workforce and support the club to further build its capacity for new members. Previously Forth Valley and Tayside Orienteering Clubs have had development officers which enabled them to sustainably grow their membership. 

Let’s speak to Will to find out more about him and his plans working with Moravian: 

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Community Conversation: Making the Most of WOC 2024 Project – Monday 8th May 7pm

For those who attended the Club Conference on 15th April, a short summary of the data gathered and project proposal for Making the Most of WOC 2024 was provided to aid discussions on the day. The SOA Board are however aware that for most members they may have engaged with the data gathering carried out but have not had the opportunity to hear more about the results and the proposal. To that end, as previously indicated there will be a community conversation taking place on Monday 8th May at 7pm online providing a summary of the work carried out by Baroudeur and allow a discussion on the data gathered.

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Working With Baroudeur

We are delighted to announce that Scottish Orienteering and British Orienteering have appointed Baroudeur Consultancy to lead on the ‘Making The Most of WOC 2024’ project. The initial project phase is 6 months to allow for scoping and consultation to identify opportunities and also create a delivery plan towards July 2024 and beyond. Some of the SOA staff and Board met with Baroudeur in Edinburgh earlier this week to identify key stakeholders and agree on the time lines of the project.

More details on the project brief are available here

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Roxburgh Reivers Earlston High School Project

The Scottish Orienteering Association has a small pot of money available each year for clubs to support the development of grassroots orienteering. These sports development grants are funded by sportscotland to enable clubs to make a tangible difference in their area. Roxburgh Reivers (RR) applied to the SOA development fund last year to support the appointment of a club development officer to initiate and deliver their Earlston High School project. The application was successful. They additionally sourced funding from Build Back a Better Borders, Live Borders, Toddleburn Wind Farm and the Orienteering Federation to make the project possible.  

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The project involved RR hosting orienteering at Earlston High School during school time which was attended by P7s at each of the cluster primary schools as part of their transition to High School after the summer. This was followed up by ‘Come and Try’ (CATI) events hosted at each of the cluster primary schools. The CATI events would then feed pupils into the RR so they could continue to engage with orienteering. 

The cluster Primary Schools session at Earlston High School was very successful. With 158 pupils taking part on a sunny day, activities could take place outside. During the session pupils could try out three different activities including linear, score courses and an orienteering maze. The linear and score courses were particularly well received from pupils, who enjoyed using a dibber and getting a print out of their splits at the end. The maze had mixed feedback as some pupils were too slow creating a queue meanwhile others loved it and raced round. The maze format may work better for smaller groups. 

Giving pupils a positive orienteering experience in schools is great, however this needs to be followed up to engage them in the sport and get them involved in the local club. In order to do this the next stage of the project was a series of CATI events at Earlston High Schools cluster primary schools. The events were at the schools to take the activity to the pupils rather than them having to travel. If they did need to travel it wouldn’t be far. Come and try it events were held on a mix Wednesday, Saturday and Sundays to suit a range of availability. The CATI events were free of charge to pupils and their parents. 

The CATI events took place throughout August and were promoted through the RR mailing list, Facebook and through posters around the schools where the events were hosted. Two of the schools circulated the information about the events through their Parents Group App. These were also the schools which had the best turn out, highlighting the importance of involving their parents when engaging children in orienteering. Pupils were also given a flyer after the first session about the CATI events. 

Apart from the first CATI, they were well attended. Over the month 81 beginners attended the CATI events however, there wasn’t a huge number of P7’s attending. Many people commented that they’d always thought they’d like to try orienteering. At one of the CATI events 26 newcomers came along. 

Following on from the CATI series RR have hosted one local event where two people from the series attended and ran an orange. Most people who attended the CATI events gave the RR their email address and are now on their mailing list for more follow up activity and events.

Overall the project has been a success and has increased awareness of the RR and orienteering in the area. Going forward the club is planning on implementing a similar series of events for next year and learning from feedback from teachers, parents and pupils to make next year’s programme even stronger.  

The club is planning on implementing a schools league next year between the Earlston High School cluster primary schools. This is where an orienteering training session would occur during school time and out of school pupils can attend local events hosted by the club and compete for their school. Hopefully this will motivate more P7s to come along to the events. Hosting a Schools League has been very successful for other clubs such the South Yorkshire Orienteers. We are very excited to see how the schools league goes next year for RR!

At SOA we are very keen to support the development of grassroots orienteering. If you have a project in mind or want to discuss an idea please contact us or submit your applications to Fran.Loots@scottish-orienteering.org. Applications for financial support for club development projects are welcomed from SOA clubs, groups of clubs, regional associations, or squads.  Depending on demand, the likely upper limit for funding is usually around £1000.