Top sailing volunteer ‘lucky’

Emily AceSouth Western Times
Jacky Kohlmann was awarded the Volunteer South West Volunteer of the Year for her continuing efforts with the Rotary Sail Into Life program.
Camera IconJacky Kohlmann was awarded the Volunteer South West Volunteer of the Year for her continuing efforts with the Rotary Sail Into Life program. Credit: Jon Gellweiler / South Western Times

Volunteer of the Year 2017 is a feather Jacky Kohlmann can now add to her brimming cap for her work with the Rotary Sail Into Life initiative supported by Enable.

The humble mother-of-three was only made aware she was nominated for the award, presented by Volunteer South West, the day before the winner was to be announced.

“It was exciting and then the next day to find out I won it was overwhelming really,” Jacky said.

The diligent volunteer is almost embarrassed by the attention as we sit down to talk, admitting with an endearing laugh she was surprised to be nominated at all.

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“There are so many fantastic volunteers and fantastic people running it and everybody does so much – it is strange to be singled out,” she said.

The Rotary Sail Into Life program has been running for more than 10 years and it aims to provide everyone with the opportunity to experience the joy and freedom of sailing, regardless of their abilities.

After her sons had left the nest and Jacky cut down her hours as a registrar at South Bunbury Primary School, she searched for a way to give back.

“I cut back on my hours at work so I was looking for something to get involved with and they were advertising on the Volunteer South West for someone to do some admin,” she said.

“I thought it would be fun to do it and I already knew people who were down there.”

Jacky has now volunteered her time to Sail Into Life for three seasons, where her role is to ensure all participants have life jackets, are registered and she helps clients get on and off the vessels – including clients confined to a wheelchair using a hoist.

On top of these duties, she also completes volunteer admin work and helps with fundraising.

“The participants get a real kick out of it,” Jacky said.

“I get a real kick out of it seeing them enjoy it and I have met some amazing people down there because people have fascinating stories.

“Some of them might have been sitting at home for a few days, but then they come down to sailing in the fresh air and go out on the ocean on a boat and their whole demeanour changes and they leave happy.

“There are also people who have had accidents who used to sail and this gives them an opportunity to get back out on the water because we can put them down on the hoist and take them out.”

Jacky counts herself fortunate to be in a position to volunteer her time.

“I am pretty lucky to have the time to do volunteering,” she said.

“A lot of people would like to but don’t have the time or the resources.”

Despite going into her fourth year with the program, Jacky admits with a laugh that she cannot sail.

“The people that can sail tell you how easy it is, but when you try yourself it’s not that easy,” she chuckled.

“I am learning stuff all the time – I had no idea about sailing and I thought I was just going down there to do some admin work.

“I have been given the opportunity to learn so much about sailing and get my skipper’s ticket, so I get so much out of it – it is great fun.”

Originally born in England, Jacky grew up in Perth where she married her husband of 33 years, Gary.

The couple moved to Kalgoorlie where they lived for 12 years before settling in Bunbury 18 years ago.

Together the couple opened Bunbury City Sports in Walker Arcade 17 years ago, which now trades as Intersport Bunbury on Victoria Street.

“It was a challenge at first – it was a huge learning curve, but it is nice having your own business, we have some great employees.”

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