Volunteers' Week continues with a huge 'Thank You' to Alex Boloux member of Edinburgh University Orienteering Club.
In the 'Thank You Spotlight' is....
Throughout this difficult year, as Captain of Edinburgh University Orienteering Club (EUOC), Alex has gone above and beyond to keep members engaged in online activities and in helping the committee run as smoothly as possible. This has been particularly challenging to plan activities as a university club, where members live as far away as Bulgaria and Germany, that everyone can get involved with no matter how far away they are.
In Freshers week, Alex was proactive and friendly, manning the virtual sports fair all week. Her open and encouraging attitude meant that the club actually gained more membership than last year, against the predictions of the Sports Union. But Alex did not only care about getting members, she also put in every effort to welcome them into the club by setting up a buddy system to connect the newcomers with experienced members, and setting up a newcomers online chat, showing her thoughtfulness.
She runs Zoom strength and conditioning sessions three times a week, patiently explaining everything for newcomers and always with a smile on her face. She even continued setting up the session and letting it run in the background whilst she was in the middle of an exam marathon last semester (4x24 hour exams in 5 days).
One of the major contributions that she made was realising that some of the maps used around the city were outdated. This made orienteering difficult for even experienced members, not to mention the less experienced people the club is trying to attract. Having the most up-to-date maps in time for the World Orienteering Championships, that is taking place in Edinburgh City Centre in 2024, is very important for Edinburgh’s appearance to the world. She set about delegating people to apply for the grants available as well as completing grant applications herself. The club has now been awarded some funding from a variety of organisations. While the applications for funding were taking place, Alex spoke with local professionals and organised when to remap the most needed areas of Edinburgh and how to share the new maps with the wider community.
She also supports other members of the committee. She often volunteers to run online quizzes to support the social secretaries (always top-quality fun) and was also managing the roles of the Treasurer from January until 21st February, showcasing her “can-do” spirit, always stepping up to fill jobs that need doing.
Recently she set up a Valentine’s Day secret love letter exchange, which was one of the highlights of our year, with 30 people signed up to send wholesome or amusing love letters to their assigned “Secret Valentine” to spread the love. Not only did she co-ordinate everything, but she also personally made sure that everyone had received their letter, even helping to write a few extras that had “got lost in the post” or not been sent!
She has also worked hard to allow the club to contribute more to the community. She is full of ideas, and acts on them. She has been organising a club blood drive, co-ordinating plans for a club fundraising challenge for local charities, and organising top professionals in the sport to give talks to the club about the training and nutrition. On top of this, in her own time she also volunteers with a local Brownies group, and in other supportive roles. There is nothing this girl can’t do!
Let's now hear from Laura King, Secretary at Edinburgh University Orienteering Club, and Alex's friend.
Why do you think Alex deserves to be put in the spotlight during this year's Volunteers' Week?
"Alex Boloux returned from her year abroad last year, diving straight into her role as captain of Edinburgh University Orienteering Club. Whilst this has arguably been one of the most challenging years for sports clubs, she has used this platform to go above and beyond in her contribution to the university community and I think her dedication, positivity and commitment has both inspired other club members and made an active difference in the community. This is even more impressive considering she had never orienteered before starting at university so she had a steep learning curve, which has never seemed to daunt her.
Despite the lockdown providing many obstacles to standard club activities, and potentially giving reason to step back and relinquish some responsibility, Alex has made it her personal mission to ensure that everyone is included and involved in the club.
She goes out of her way to ensure that others get recognition for their achievements and efforts, so it is about time she gets some recognition for her own. On multiple occasions Alex has delivered prizes, such as personalised club mugs and jigsaws to club members for winning “lockdown challenges” by incorporating it into her training run, even when she is busy with work. She also organised a thoughtful present for the coach who had been working with us to thank him for his efforts and ensured that all the colours nominations for the club were submitted for those deserving them. She personally checked all applications and re-wrote one for a particularly deserving individual to ensure that his efforts were appropriately recognised.
Alex has really worked hard to maintain the family feel of EUOC this year by making sure members can be involved on every level, whether they’re fit or injured, in Edinburgh or locked down elsewhere in the world. She has contributed huge amounts of time to our club whist studying a demanding Civil Engineering degree and in doing so has allowed the rest of the committee to continue contributing to the wider Edinburgh orienteering community. As a club we’ve continued our night orienteering league all through winter on Maprun, and we’ve put together a huge fundraising weekend for Scottish Mountain Rescue.
At our recent AGM, Alex took on the role of Secretary for EUOC for 2021/2022, committing even more time and energy to the club in her 5th year of University.
Alex has been at the core of all these successes, offering encouragement, time and energy to whoever needs it. She is an invaluable member of the orienteering community and thoroughly deserves recognition for the energy she puts into the sport."
British Orienteering would like to express our thanks and gratitude to you Alex for all the hard work, energy and commitment you have given and continue to put in to your club and to the sport of orienteering. Your dedication and thoughtfulness to other club members is certainly incredible. Thank you so much for all you do!
Alex, what would you say is your personal highlight from the year?
"The highlight of the year was definitely the fundraiser we organised in aid of the Scottish Mountain Rescue. We managed to collectively climb as a club the height of over 100 of the tallest Munros! Everyone in the club, all over the UK and Europe came together to achieve this crazy goal which none of us believed we could accomplish at the start. Alongside our fantastic Vice-Captain Alastair Thomas and our talented Media Officer Thomas Laraia, I helped organise the event, contacted sponsors and climbed my fair share of Munros during the weekend! It was such an ecstatic Sunday evening when we finally reached our goal, a feeling of accomplishment we had all deeply missed in the past year. Last but not least, we raised over £4,200 for the Scottish Mountain Rescue thanks to all the generous donators!"
Alex, please tell us about your volunteering journey?
"When I came to University I knew very little about orienteering. EUOC has been such a welcoming and fun club to join. I started volunteering as a way to give back to a club which brought to me so many good memories, so many great friends and helped me discover a fantastic new sport! Becoming captain this year has been extremely fulfilling as for many of us, weekly club activities were the only form of socialising we had and it was a great and challenging task to try create a sense of community and belonging during a year of social distancing. I love seeing new members grow in the club, become more comfortable and gain the confidence to take on important volunteering roles. I also love witnessing the great teamwork behind managing a club and the collective sense of achievement when goals are reached."
Thank you again Alex. Your efforts are incredible. Thank you!
How you can get involved with Volunteers' Week?
Share your own story about volunteering during a pandemic over the past 12 months, inspire others to get involved in volunteering, or say thank you to an amazing volunteer you know using #VolunteersWeek!
Inspiring others to volunteer!
Have you got any personal volunteering story or have you recently embarked on the start of your volunteering journey within your club? What made you take on voluntarily tasks at your club initially, and why do you still hold specific committee roles / undertake tasks within your club?
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