Rockstar Volunteers: catching up with Lynn Robinson

Posted by Joanna Rowbottom on 12/04/2016

Lynn Robinson has volunteered with the BMC in many capacities but most recently has been instrumental in developing a women in the outdoors theme for the BMC AGM which takes place at the weekend. We chatted to Lynn to find out more about her time volunteering for the BMC.

Thanks for chatting with us Lynn. We know you're passionate about increasing the invovlement of women in voluntary roles here at the BMC and are involved with the womens recruitment drive so it's great to chat to you about your experience as a BMC volunteer.

Firstly what is your role for the BMC and what does it involve?
I’ve been involved in all the new series BMC guidebooks, in one capacity or another, from the Burbage, Millstone and Beyond to the current volumes, including being co-editor of Froggatt to Black Rocks. I’m now on the BMC guidebook committee. The BMC has helped other definitive guidebook producers and through this I had extensive involvement in the Yorkshire Mountaineering Club Yorkshire Gritstone guides. I am a regular attender at the Peak Area meetings and from 2010 – 2015 I was the Secretary. I’ve recently become involved in the Women’s Development Group, my main area of interest being to increase the participation of female volunteers in the BMC.

How long have you been involved with the BMC?
That’s a hard one to answer! I started to climb in about 1990 and joined my local university mountaineering club. Every winter the club went on a trip to Scotland, the BMC were very helpful in supporting the club especially in the areas of safety and starting out in winter and alpine climbing.

I can’t remember exactly when I started going to Peak Area meetings, it must have been in about 1998. I then started BMC guidebook work in about 2000 when I was ‘training’ to do the Cuillin Ridge: I decided to climb all the routes severe and below at Stanage and discovered that some of the routes were a good bit harder! My work with the BMC all started there. 

What motivated you to volunteer for the BMC?
I suppose my first passion is guidebook production and ensuring the correct documentation of the thousands and thousands of amazing routes and boulder problems in the Peak District and the history behind them. I’m a proud ‘lower-grade’ climber (although I do occasionally stray into the E numbers!) so I wanted to ensure that these routes are accurately and interestingly documented. The people I’ve worked with on the guidebooks are brilliant, but if you’re regularly climbing E3 and above, then to be able to ascertain whether a route is Severe or Very Severe or a move is 4b or 4c can be difficult, and that’s where I come in. 

What was your first meeting/event like?
I remember going along to a Peak Area meeting and there were very few women there. It seemed to be full of men, and to be honest although things have improved women are still underrepresented at meetings. In the early days I remember going to a Peak Area AGM and the Chair announcing “one man, one vote”. I stuck my hand up and asked if I was allowed to vote. Things have moved on, and people are more aware of the language they use and of being inclusive to the whole audience. 

What’s the best thing about being a BMC volunteer?
The friends that I’ve made for sure. Also working with ‘like-minded’ people who share the same passion as yourself and feeling that I’ve made a positive contribution to the quality of the guidebooks, including making the lower-grade routes get treated more fairly in grade and descriptive terms and encouraging increasing the number of photos of female climbers in the guides.

What has been the biggest challenge?
Sometimes feeling like a lone voice, although staff at the BMC office have always been incredibly supportive and helpful. Also, in my five-year stint as Peak Area Secretary, it was a personal aim to increase the number of women who attended the meetings. I tried to get female speakers whenever I could, we have some great talks by women, and chatted and encouraged females (my friends, down at the local climbing wall and out on the crag). I don’t know why even more women don’t participate in the voluntary work of the BMC, especially guidebook work – I guess the reasons are very complex and varied.

What advice would you give to someone who might want to start volunteering for the BMC?
It all depends on what your interests and skills are. I would recommend going along to your local area meetings and chatting to the Chair and Secretary. If you’re interested in access issues, then there’s always work to be done there. The area meetings are a great place to find out what the issues are where you live and what work the BMC is doing at a national level, so something might just catch your fancy and interest. Go along with a friend, as the meetings are great social events aswell. Also I’m always available for a chat or email exchange: lynn.robinson@bmcvolunteers.org.uk

As you've mentioned from your experience, traditionally more men volunteer for the BMC than women, how do you think we can address this?
I know the BMC is very committed to wanting to increase the numbers of female volunteers. The work of the Women’s Development Group is going a long way to address this. I think role models are incredibly important and Britain is incredibly lucky to have some amazing female climbers who are involved in the work of the BMC through the ambassador programme and executive level work at the BMC.

By supporting events such as the Women’s Climbing Symposium and Women in Adventure Network, the BMC can get out there and show that it does want to readdress the current imbalance and that female volunteers, in whatever capacity, will be welcomed and supported.


The BMC TV Women in Adventure Film Competition is back and accepting submissions for 2022. So dive in, if you have a story to tell or a cause to share it's time to do so!

We want to see your adventures captured on film and keep the cycle of inspiration rolling as we head into the eighth year of the competition, supported by Montane.

WATCH: All the entries to the Women in Adventure Film Competition 2021 on BMC TV

FIND OUT MORE AND ENTER: Submit an entry

WATCH: Women in Adventure Film Competition 2022 Trailer on BMC TV

Need inspiration?

WATCH: All the 2021 winners and entries

WATCH: All the 2020 winners and entries

WATCH: All the 2019 winners and entries

WATCH: All the 2018 winners and entries

WATCH: All the 2017 winners and entries

WATCH: All the 2016 winners and entries

WATCH: All the 2015 winners and entries

 

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