Throughout the year, members of our team give their own time to crew the lifeboats, coastguard stations and fire stations. They are also supported to answer a shout during work hours whenever possible. Many more donate time to clubs, sports teams, committees, neighbours, or are busy with a multitude of good works and good deeds.
Head of HR Emma Crawford says: “We always want to support people in giving back to the community – especially through the emergency services.” Emma herself serves on three committees. Also, informal arrangements are very common. “It comes completely naturally to even the youngest member of the team, to immediately try to look after the people around them and give something back to the community,” says Emma.
Gordon, our Assistant Manager, says it’s instinctive, “It’s bred into you! I don’t think of it as volunteering. You just help people who are needing help. It’s just the Islay way.”
We surveyed all Bruichladdich staff to find out first-hand what exactly the support of their neighbours, friends and local community looks like.
From uniformed organisations to football clubs; chairing committees to fundraising; staffing the Agricultural Show or festival events; the RNLI to volunteering at the RSPB reserves on the island, half of the 44 who gave detailed responses, said they were engaged formally. Many more had informal arrangements helping out friends and neighbours with shopping, odd jobs, lambing, painting, gardening and so on.
Joanne Middleton, Head of Warehouse Operations, has many volunteering strings to her bow. “It’s good fun!” she says. “I like doing stuff, and I have always done volunteering.” She is a fundraiser for the RNLI, a show steward for Islay and Jura Agricultural Association, helps out at Festival (Fèis Ìle) and at Jura Music Festival, supported a bereaved family, and “anything else where a spare pair of hands is required.”
She’d like to see Bruichladdich do something specific to support the older generation on this part of the island (The Rhinns). She says helping and supporting the community is part of island life, but she’d get involved no matter where she lived.
“Most people do something for someone else, as that’s just what you do – they don’t see it as volunteering, just lending someone a hand.”
Iain MacLean, who works in the warehouse, joined the coastguard in 2016 after being invited by Production Director Allan Logan. He and fellow warehouseman and coastguard Stewart Young, were delivering spirit from the warehouse to the bottling hall in the Bruichladdich tanker, when we caught up.
“I enjoy being out and about,” said Iain, “You get to do your bit for the community and be part of a team.”
Stewart says when the shout comes they just downtools – there’s a quick check to ensure everything is safe and switched off and then they’re out. “If there’s a shout, at the warehouse, that’s half of us away!’ remarks Iain. It’s hard to quantify how many hours a month they give over to the Coastguard – it varies so much – but training can take up to 12 hours a month and a callout could take from one to 20 hours.
“The summer months are busier,” Stewart said, and it’s mainly visitors to the island, unfamiliar with the terrain, who get lost.