Volunteer Spotlight: Hugh Ainsley

By Euan Murray and Badminton Scotland

This week we shine a spotlight on one of the longest serving volunteers in Scottish and Lanarkshire Badminton – Hugh Ainsley from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire.

Hugh tells us he began playing badminton around 1966: “a friend of my parents (Bill Porter) invited me to play at Airdrie Community Centre. It was a one court hall and we played with about 20 players rotating on the court. We used feather shuttles but the rule was that the shuttle was changed just once in the night so we played I think from 7PM till 9PM and the shuttle was changed at 8PM”.

Hugh ran the school badminton club at Airdrie Academy when he starting teaching in 1975, and is still involved 47 dedicated years later – “Fortunately I enjoy organising and as a teacher I never minded doing the paperwork and I like to see events run as smoothly as possible”.

Hugh continues to organise and deliver competitions for SSBU & LASBA; chairing and leading organisations including SSBU, Hamilton Sports Council, International Schools Federation (ISF); he was also an Umpire with Badminton Scotland Court Officials (BSCO) and has acted as Head of ISF Delegation, coach and umpire for Scottish teams entering ISF events before becoming a member of ISF Technical Delegation for Badminton.

Hugh became Area Organiser for Lanarkshire Schools in 1990 after having helped run LASBA events for the previous 10 years to introduce and inspire pupils into badminton. He runs annual Lanarkshire Primary & Secondary Championships, Quaich Team events giving pupils the chance to represent their school.

With local level school involvement, Hugh took on the Convenor/Chair role of SSBU 2004. Since then, he has encouraged and recruited volunteers into our sport by serving on committees or as area organisers. He has demonstrated his experience of badminton and currently runs around 20 events per year, engaging school pupils and players within clubs and SSBU Age Group Singles & Doubles Events.

Along with his Lanarkshire Schools commitments, Hugh has lead on the organisation of other events, including SSBU National Primary and Secondary Championships, Primary and Secondary Quaichs, and Inter-Area events – delivering these events with less key volunteers than in the past.

Hugh also connected into badminton strategically representing SSBU on the Badminton Scotland Board since 2004. In addition to being involved in Tournament Organising, Hugh is also a qualified Umpire who has Umpired For Badminton Scotland Court Officials in Scotland, Bulgaria, Norway, Denmark, Slovenia, Belgium and Germany from 1991 to 2002.  He has ensured that all events have been organised to a professional level.

For those thinking about getting involved in volunteering with badminton, Hugh says: “Please come and help – without volunteers most badminton events could not run. Many of the people organising SSBU or Lanarkshire events have reached pension age. I hope to chalk up 50 years of volunteering but we can’t all go on forever and in the last few years Lanarkshire have lost John Barrie, Bill Neil and Colin Philip who all gave so much to the sport over many years. Without some new faces we will not be able to continue for much longer. Even just help at an odd event to start with and see how things are done”.

When thinking about his favourite memories and highlights within badminton, Hugh says: “Probably the first ISF event in Herentals where I was head of delegation and the Larkhall Academy team won 3 silver medals and one bronze – the boys team took a silver as did the girls team and in the individual event  we had a silver medal and a bronze from Keith Turnbull and Stuart Keenan – I don’t remember who got which one!

However possibly a close second place goes to the International Children’s Games in Reykjavik where one player had her first experience of an international event. I think she has played a few more internationals since then – her name is Kirsty Gilmour”.

In relation to the ISF Badminton Events, in 1998, SSBU received details of the inaugural ISF Badminton Event to be held at Herentals in Belgium. SSBU were not aware and possibly interested, however Hugh felt his school would benefit from this experience and approached the Head Teacher who permitted entry.

Hugh was immediately impressed by ISF reporting back to the school after the event. His Head teacher was so impressed with the report that when the next event came up in France the school was selected to attend. Hugh was also the Scottish Umpire and served as Head of Delegation.

After the 3rd event under the auspices of the ISF, Hugh was a pioneer of the ISF Technical Commission which was formed and he became one of the original members.

Everyone at Lanarkshire Badminton Group and Badminton Scotland want to say a huge thank you to Hugh for his continued dedication and passion for our sport.

Feeling inspired? Why not get involved with Lanarkshire Badminton Group, visit the website or contact us here. If you are interested in further volunteering opportunities please get in touch with Badminton Scotland here