Laura Pilkington

Winner of the 2022 Coaching, Officiating and Volunteer Award for Young Volunteer of the Year, Laura Pilkington was a member of the fifth cohort of the Young People’s Sport Panel, one of sportscotland’s flagship leadership programmes for young people, and has been involved in volunteering from a young age.

We caught up with her to find out more about her volunteering journey and her advice for others thinking about volunteering.

What was your experience of sport growing up?

I always loved swimming as a child when I was on holiday with my family. When I was in S1 of high school I got to do it in PE, which I enjoyed. My family weren’t too keen on swimming but I want to go to the pool so I asked my mum if I could join a swimming club and she said yes. I googled the nearest disability swimming club and got started a few weeks later. I originally got into swimming just for fun but after I entered my first competition I was hooked!

What is your volunteering experience to date?

I got involved more in volunteering when I was first accepted into the Scottish Disability Sport Young Start programme, which aims to get people with a disability into coaching. During that time I volunteered twice a week at Bridge of Don swimming club and that summer I passed my swimming teaching qualification.

Through the Young Start programme, there were external opportunities to engage in CPD and volunteer. At the end of the Young Start programme  I decided to take a gap year from university and having my teaching qualification from the young start programme gave me another avenue to explore. It also helped me find a purpose at a time when I was lost and didn’t know what to do with my future but being involved in that group gave me a focus.

In 2020, I applied to both the SDS Young Persons Sport Panel and sportscotland Young Person’s Sport Panel and was delighted to be successful in getting on both panels. I have been able to run events, social media promotion, talk to decisionmakers and many other opportunities.

In 2021 I was successful in being appointed as the Disability Equality Lead for Scottish Student Sport. In that role, I have been involved in inclusion forms, contacted sports presidents, organised online webinars and ran a Student boccia event.

More recently I am now a board member with Scottish Disability Sport and a Fit for Girls tutor. I am excited to use the skills and knowledge I have gained over the last few years of volunteering to make an impact on both of those roles.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

Making a difference to other people within sports and getting to see your work make an impact. Especially with events, speaking to young people and starting to see them getting involved in sports. 

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

I would say my main challenge would be when I was struggling with my mental health and did not want to let people down. However, I spoke to the organisations I was volunteering with and was just honest that right now I can’t do as much as normally do as I need to look after myself. I think it is important to communicate as everyone is understanding. You can’t help others if you aren’t okay yourself!

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

Find an opportunity and get stuck in! Volunteer in something you are passionate about and really understand WHY you want to volunteer as that will help you in deciding what you want to do.

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


Your feedback will help us to improve this site. Please don't provide any personal information.  Feedback form

Enquiries should be submitted using by email to