#VolunteersWeek: Helen Probart

#VolunteersWeek: Helen Probart

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Throughout Volunteer Week 2016, Scottish Cycling will be showcasing some of the volunteers that work on cycling events across the country. There is more to cycling than getting on a bike and the fantastic work done by Scottish Cycling's 184 affiliated clubs and volunteers each and every week does not go unnoticed. We couldn't do any of it without you!

Name: Helen Probart

Age: I'm 58. There, I've said it now.

Occupation: Head of Service with a non departmental public body 

Cycling Club: the mighty West Lothian Clarion - although I must 'fess up, I'm a non-cycling member.

Volunteering role(s): I'm a road and track commissaire, and was recently appointed to the Scottish Cycling Commissaire Commission.

How long have you been volunteering in your role for?

My first involvement was in early 2013, when I turned up to the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome to assist at Track League. I also volunteered as a marshal at the National TT and road race champs and as results assistant at the Junior Track Worlds in Glasgow later that summer - a great event and fantastic volunteering experience (although I never want to see another tuna and sweetcorn sandwich again).

How did you get into volunteering?

Bit of a post-2012 Olympics thing. I was one of the many thousands not selected to be a Gamesmaker, but the 'get involved' message got me thinking. I'd discovered track cycling on the telly during the Manchester Commonwealth Games and thought "ooh - that's exciting to watch!" I started looking for more coverage, and came across the Tour de France highlight shows. Now that was quite different, and I was fascinated by the team roles and strategies. I became an armchair fan, and started reading as many cycling books and biographies as I could get my hands on. And then I thought "I can do that!" Commissairing that is, not riding up steep mountains. Most emphatically, not riding up anything steep.

So, I contacted Scottish Cycling to see how I could go about training to be a commissaire, and was invited to go along to the weekly Track League. I began to build experience in the different commissaire roles, and took myself down to Yorkshire early in the summer to attend a road commissaire course, followed in December by the track course in Glasgow. Now officially an 'L' plated commissaire in both disciplines, I sought out opportunities to complete my training logbooks by phoning organisers and chief comms to invite myself onto their events and get road race experience, and continuing to assist at Track League and national track events.

It took me a while to get there - partly because the summer of 2014 was given over to another fantastic volunteering experience: driving round Scotland for 5 weeks in the Queen's Baton Relay convoy for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games - but now I have achieved my upgrade to Regional in both track and road. The learning still continues, though.

What are the benefits of volunteering?

You get to meet a whole new bunch of great people, all with a love of the sport, and the common aim of supporting cycle sport. You can use your skills in a completely different environment. I've made some fantastic friends.

What has been your most memorable volunteering experience in cycling?

The World Junior Track Champs was certainly a highlight, but I think most recently this year's Youth Tour of Scotland was pretty special. It's a long time since I've been as wet as I was that weekend, or as cold, perched on a step ladder as line judge, but what great young talent we have coming through.

Describe the perfect volunteer (without describing yourself!)

Adaptable, open to learning, willing to get stuck in with a smile, oh, and preferably with cake :)

Advice to someone who might want to volunteer in cycling.

If you're not sure which discipline you want to get involved in, have a chat with the Scottish Cycling team and get along to experience some different events. If you want to take it further as a commissaire, you do need to have reasonable availability and to commit to driving your own learning pathway. Most of all, do it because you enjoy it! 

For more volunteer stories please see here:

Carole O' Hare: Volunteer

Wayne Roberts: Timekeeper

Bridget Trussell: Event Organiser

Elizabeth Adams: Coach