Back in 2013 I applied to be a volunteer at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. At the point I hit the “Send” button on the application form I didn’t think it would change my life, help me to make some lifetime friends and have some incredible experiences but this was to be just the start of my volunteering adventures.
Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games
On the 10th July 2014, I was Glasgow bound to spend 25 days wearing a uniform and being a part of the Commonwealth Games. I was super proud to be one of the 15,000 volunteers that had been chosen. I had been placed in the Main Press Centre as Photography Team Leader at the SECC. This is the epicentre for all photographers and journalists reporting results, stories and images as the events happen. It’s super busy but in a good way.
We arrived in the MPC (Main Press Centre) before the journalists descended, giving us time to set things up and make sure it was perfect. With press arriving from all Commonwealth countries to report back on how their teams were doing, all eyes would be on Glasgow.
The buzz of the events and press conferences with athletes carried us through long shifts and walking anything between 9 and 13 miles per shift! I think I only had two days off but it didn’t feel like work, even with the early starts. In fact, if anything the early starts were a good thing because this meant I then had the afternoon to explore, hang out with my new pals and enjoy the sunshine.
Probably one of my favourite times was when Dude came to join me. Leaving him back at home was difficult but I knew that he would be coming up to share my volunteering adventures mid way through. He spent the mornings exploring Glasgow on foot (the best way to discover a city) and then meeting up with me once my shift finished at 2pm. I was sad to see him leave again but this was always going to be my adventure.
I had managed to work out from my shift pattern which sports I could also buy tickets for. This was a great chance to see sports that I’d never seen before – judo, track cycling and women’s boxing finals. Also got opportunity to see some netball and the gymnastics finals too. Incredibly lucky. We had so much fun. As I write this, I realise that I really did cram a lot into such a short time.
Do it for the experience
Some of you may be aware that I am a big believer in “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” so with that I managed wangle my way to be in a Press Conference with Amir Khan and then have my photo taken with him. On a rare afternoon off I also met Sir Steve Redgrave and James Cracknell (They sat in front of me at the Gymnastics) *see photo below.* Another of the Press Centre’s visitors was Matt Baker of Countryfile fame.
Another great moment was meeting Laura Trott (as she was back then), Jason Kenny, Andy Tennant and getting to wear Andy’s Silver medal.
Volunteering means you don’t get paid and so many people asked me why would I want to do it if I wasn’t being paid. In fact, I paid for all my travel and my accommodation. None of this is included. So why did I do it?
It wasn’t all about the famous people and not even the amazing people I worked with, many of whom I now call friends. To say I was a part of the Commonwealth Games family makes me proud. Wearing the uniform and the Saltire on my back made me proud. I won’t lie to you I did cry (more than once) when it was all over and I sometimes still get a lump in my throat when I think about it. I still can’t listen to Deacon Blue’s Dignity without welling up, it reminds me of the Closing Ceremony.
The buzz around the city during the games was electric. Walking home in my uniform strangers would ask me what role I was doing, where was I staying and then share their story. Glasgow and it’s people were excellent hosts and I will continue to visit.
I can highly recommend volunteering. It doesn’t have to be on such a grand scale as a sporting event but maybe for conservation? There are plenty of opportunities to be found on the Volunteer Scotland website.
Since the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth games I have also volunteered at the IBSA Blind Football European Championships 2015 at the Royal National College for the Blind in August 2015.
Shortly after we moved to Scotland in October 2015 I spent two weeks as member of the volunteer team for the World Championship Gymnastics in Glasgow. You can read about my experience here.
I joined the media team at Gleneagles for the Glasgow 2018 European Championships. Another huge sporting event hosted by Scotland. You can follow my adventures over on Instagram.
*Please excuse the quality of a couple of these images they were taken on my mobile*