• Cameron Readman

Raise a Wand to the Women of Bothwell!

Raise a wand to the women of Bothwell of International Women's Day

Bothwell wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of many talented female volunteers, players and fans. Okay, we ourselves are both bearded hairy men who feel more at home during Movember, but we would be lost without the women who help make Bothwell possible. This article is about recognising and appreciating those women and we’ll also be talking a bit more about some of the female leaders in our organisation. There are, of course, many men who are instrumental in our success who we could do more to recognise, but hush now, because today isn’t about you.

Firstly, it’s important to recognise our whole player base. In 2018 74% of our attendees identified as female! Which is staggering considering that those ratios are sometimes reversed in the wider live action role-play space (depending on what kind of genre you’re looking at). It would be wrong of us to claim any credit for particularly appealing to women (although we hope the strong female founders in the school’s history found some resonance somewhere), more it’s just the nature of the experience we run. Throughout the 3 editions of Bothwell School of Witchcraft we’ve had so far, our female players have provided levels of depth to our story that would make Merlin’s beard curl! So many prefects, professors and other plot leaders have generated immense amounts role play for others; their selflessness is staggering at times. Many more have gone above and beyond the call of duty, organising yearbooks or meetups to bring the community together. In short, our female players kick-ass (including ours when a good boot heel is required).

There are literally too many women to recognise all in one article today, and lots that are deserving of a mention. So, I’m going to shine the spotlight on our voluntary crew leaders, all of whom happen to be female. First up we have our Volunteer Coordinator; Catherine Martin. She puts in monumental effort before the event collecting in scene requests and putting together spreadsheets of epic proportion to make all the activities run smoothly throughout the 4-days. At the event itself she has the tough job of corralling all of our volunteers by leading briefings to make sure they’re all in the right place at the right time, and are all happy and healthy! We couldn’t do what we do without her and we’ve all seen her grow as a leader in her role at Bothwell. She’s helped by our Volunteer Officer, Rae Fox! Rae gives up a lot of time running around amongst the players at Bothwell as an NPC (non-playable character) to instead hide away up in our organiser’s tower so she can help out with scheduling, briefings and general organisation. Plus, being a teacher, is particularly good at cracking the whip when our excited volunteers get too unruly. Both Catherine and Rae are a formidable driving force behind making Bothwell the joy it is for our guests.

(from left to right) Catherine Martin, Rae Fox, Sam Rowlands

Of course, we’re not done there. Sam Rowlands, with the enigmatic title of Information Officer, is primarily responsible for the workshops and briefings we give to both players and crew members; ensuring all of the mechanics we have in place keep everyone having fun and, most importantly, safe. However, in reality her reach extends way beyond her title. With experience in stage management, she often helps us with our lighting and sound and frequently takes a leading role during our set-dressing and tear down phases, making sure everything is up to scratch. When she does get time to go and NPC for students, she’s always a fan favourite; whether it be her gnome character Eggnog or her energetic portrayals of various magical creatures.

We also have an Emotional Support officer at Bothwell, who again, gives up a lot of time terrorising students as a Sphinx or Fairy to make sure we always have someone on hand to help people through any difficult times they may experience. These difficult times can vary wildly; from just taking a time out to talk to someone with a cup of tea to helping someone through social anxiety, often necessary in such a socially interactive game. In the past we’ve been privileged to have Lesley Buckley in the role, a qualified therapist and a professional actress no less! This year we’re welcoming a familiar face; Catherine Gray into the role. Catherine was at our very first Bothwell and has followed us through our journey so far as player, but she’s also a qualified occupational therapist and will make a great addition to our all-star team! Last, but certainly not least, we have Yoru Kamiko, our props and costume officer. Over the years she’s developed a lot of the stuff that sits in our props and costume department, all of it adding to the magical environment we’ve tried to create and to the immersion of our players. At the event she works hard in producing requested items almost out of thin air. Some would think her a conjurer!

(from left to right) Lesley Buckley, Yoru Kamiko and Catherine Gray

And there you have it! Our female crew of all-stars that make virtually everything happen at a Bothwell event! International Women’s day is all about recognising the women in our lives, but for us recognition simply isn’t enough. Our voluntary officers and coordinators display categorically the true power, tenacity, leadership and compassion of our female leaders and our respect and appreciation of them knows no bounds. We haven’t purposefully chosen a female leadership team, we wouldn’t want to. Instead, each and every single one has risen to the occasion time and time again. At times, myself and Stuart can feel like mere school boys in the presence of these empowered women. Are we surprised? Not really, why should we be? It’s almost sad we still need a day to recognise women when their cruciality to a functioning workplace has been proven time and time again. Somebody’s gender shouldn’t affect their opportunities, but the fact of the matter is that still, in some places in the world, women are not able to be everything they can or want to be. I sincerely hope our excellent team is simply a testament to what empowered women can accomplish and we hope you’ll join us in raising our wands in salute to our female compatriots both in our crew and in our community!

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