Julia Howe

What was your experience in sport growing up?

I wasn’t particularly sporty at school but I always enjoyed being outdoors, walking and exploring out in the countryside around Perthshire with my family and  family friends.

In 1974/75, a new club was started up at the Perth Rugby Club - A canoeing club! I loved it!

What is your volunteering experience to date?

In 2016 I stumbled into volunteering when I heard there was a new group starting up to improve the paths around Auchterarder.

After a local survey of residents in town the overwhelming desire was for improved accessibility. I used the paths every day walking my dogs and I often felt they were badly drained, so could be very muddy especially in the winter. Some were overgrown narrow tracks and some could only be used in the driest season! Helping to solve these issues was a no brainer for me.

What/who inspired you to get into volunteering?

I was inspired by my time in 1974/75 when I was to taught to canoe by Rab (Ian Robertson). He laughed when he learnt he had inspired me but he did!

Gordon Cluckie, Gordon Smith among others from Perth Rugby Club who volunteered and spent a lot of time teaching us and ferrying us around Perthshire rivers and lochs for competitions.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I enjoy the path tidies with other volunteers, the social side.

I enjoy thinking about the improvements we have made. How the paths were and how they have been improved from narrow muddy overgrown tracks to dry wider accessible for all path users.

Have you had to overcome any challenges or barriers whilst volunteering?

Speaking to people who don’t want changes. There is often some resistance to changing surfaces .

Some people think this is my full time job! I work in retail four days a week! They contact me to complain about all sorts of issues.

It helps to have a team of volunteers around you to run ideas and work out best ways to do things. We are also supported by PKC Park Rangers and PKC countryside Trust as well as community groups around Auchterarder. CAP as well as other nationwide groups such as Sustrans.

What advice would you give to others looking to get involved in volunteering?

It is very rewarding! It's nice to give something back to the community.

It’s very rewarding to receive appreciative comments from other path users and to hear visitors come to Auchterarder to meet up with friends purely to use the paths around town!

Advice to others. It can be demanding but it is very rewarding. Do it!

Auchterarder Community Sport & Recreation’s Development Manager, Tim Hart, enthused:

“Julia is a crucial volunteer within ACSR’s local network – and is a key driver behind the fantastic work our Core Paths Working Group is able to do, to maintain and upgrade the local path network. Julia plans the monthly Path Tidies (first Wednesday morning and third Sunday morning – if anyone would like to come and lend a hand!), warmly welcomes our 10-20 volunteers each time, organises the sub-groups and assigns each a task for the morning – and ensures each group has suitable equipment to use.  When the Path Tidies begin, Julia plays a very active role – leading the group and passing on her considerable knowledge about what the group should be tidying and what flowers etc should be left to grow and thrive. At the conclusion of each Path Tidy, it is often Julia’s home-baking which encourages the volunteers to stay and socialise – helping to ensure that both the community and the volunteers benefit from all the hard work! Julia also chairs the monthly Core Paths Working Group Meeting – the meeting which provides the strategic direction for the group and helps to map out how we can work with other local groups (the primary school, the Brownies, the Scouts etc) to encourage more people to take an active interest in maintaining our local paths and associated green spaces.”

Date published: 14 July 2023
Date updated: 14 July 2023


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