International Women's Day: Trish Wallace
Today Scottish Rugby shines a light on women in leadership roles within the grassroots rugby community as part of our International Women's Day celebrations. In this article, Trish Wallace shares highlights from her Presidency at Garnock Rugby Club.
By day, Trish Wallace serves the community in North Ayrshire in a pioneering programme called the Wellbeing and Recovery College, which offers educational courses to support mental wellbeing.
By night, she is also a trail-blazer, as Garnock Rugby Club’s President, the first female to hold the post.
Trish first became involved at Garnock in 2007 as a first-aider after her son Harry, who was 15 at the time, suggested she would be a great fit for the role knowing she was a first-aider at work.
After spending years supporting the U18s and senior teams with their first-aid needs, Trish was approached in 2016 and asked if she would join the club’s committee, and was later elected as Vice President. Up until that point, despite launching more than 40 years ago, Garnock had never appointed a woman as an officer bearer.
Trish went on to shatter the glass ceiling in 2018 when she became the Garnock President. Now, in what is set to be her final season in the role, Trish has been reflecting on her achievements.
From day one, Trish describes her ultimate goal as providing a new, safe, and functioning home for the club.
“For the last 26 years the club has been operating out of Portacabins, which have outlived their shelf-life by about 15 years. Over the years, along with support from our committee, I have been working extremely hard to secure funding to improve our facilities, of which we’ve had a lot of help from Scottish Rugby and sportscotland. And just in the last couple of months we’ve finally got the green light for a new development.
“Led by North Ayrshire Council, a brand-new community hub will be built looking out onto our pitches. There will be a social enterprise functioning on the top floor of the building, and the lower storey will have facilities, including 6 changing rooms, for which Garnock Rugby will hold the tenancy.
“The building and its facilities are just going to be fantastic! I can’t wait to see it when it’s ready next spring."
You’ve no idea the amount of meetings I’ve been in or how many doors we’ve had to knock on to achieve this. I’m proud to know this project will be part of the legacy of my Presidency. Trish Wallace, Garnock Rugby Club President
Alongside these new facilities, Trish cites the establishment of Ladies Dinner, a now popular event in the social calendar, as another one of her big achievements.
She also recognises that her involvement within the club paves the way for women to become more involved at Garnock, and it’s something in which she has immense pride.
She said: “I hope that being in this role has shown other girls and women that rugby isn’t a ‘man’s thing’, it’s a sport where everyone can be involved. Although I’m the only woman on the committee I’ve never found that to be a hindrance.
“I know that within our player and support base at the club, they’re quite chuffed to have a woman as their President not only because it's unusual but because they trust me.
“Of course, there’s been the odd moment or two where someone might question my decision-making, perhaps suggesting I think one way because I’m a woman. But that’s not the case. I make decisions based on what I believe will be the best for promoting rugby in the Garnock Valley, and that’s why we are all here and do what we do. Because we want to watch our club flourish.
“To any woman who wants to get involved at their local club I would say, ‘Don’t be afraid that it’s a man’s world. It’s not’. Wherever you go in the rugby community, you will be met with respect and dignity, just like I’ve been. For me, this club is like a big extended family and I cannot emphasise that enough, having this support network has been incredible for me.”