While Team Scotland’s athletes excelled in the arena, collecting a record-breaking 53 medals, the success of the whole Games came down to the dedication and upbeat attitude of thousands of volunteers. An army of ‘Clydesiders’ worked behind the scenes making sure everything ran smoothly across venues, transport, uniforms, the Athletes’ Village and so much more.
The welcoming face of the Games to the thousands of athletes, officials and spectators who descended on Glasgow, we asked three Clydesiders to share their memories and tell us what that experience meant to them, to Glasgow and to Scotland. Here’s what Andrew Miller, Marion Robinson and Chris Quinn had to say:
How did you get involved in volunteering at Glasgow 2014? What role did you take on?
ANDREW: I was really lucky to just by chance help out as a London 2012 volunteer interviewer for the Scottish Gamesmaker applicants at Glasgow Science Centre. It was a fascinating experience and led to a lot of us having the chance to be Frontrunners, the early volunteers who interviewed the candidates who would become Clydesiders.
At the Games themselves I was a member of the Protocol team in the Games Village. Our job was to look after the Games Chieftains, a group of prominent athletes who were the figureheads for events in the Village. Our ‘VIP’ tent was in the international zone where the athletes came for a drink but we spent a lot of time in the village running errands and showing visitors around.
MARION: I had volunteered as a Selection Event Volunteer (SEV) at the Glasgow Science Centre for London 2012 as part of their volunteer recruitment programme. A number of the volunteers were actually staff members involved in Glasgow 2014 and were learning from the experience with a view to developing the volunteer recruitment programme for Glasgow 2014. A number of us gave contact details to the 2014 staff and at the end of 2012 I had an email asking if I wanted to get involved. I was lucky enough to be part of the Frontrunner team undertaking almost 21,000 interviews to find the 15,000 Clydesiders needed to make 2014 the success it was. I spent almost 15 months as part of the interview team, the training admin team and ultimately as a Clydesider at games time.
CHRIS: I seem to remember seeing it in a newspaper, not too sure. I never thought I’d be in with a chance. I began as a Frontrunner, then, during the Games, was a T2 Driver.
What are your memories of the lead into and during the Glasgow 2014 Games themselves?
ANDREW: Being a Frontrunner was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done – a year of uplifting events and laughter. There were about 300 of us interviewing the people who became Clydesiders along with the teams for ‘On the Day’ events, the Queen’s Baton Relay and Clyde the Mascot. I helped put on some of our social events so I got to know loads of people and made some cracking friends who I still see today (but not often enough!).
So it wasn’t just the absolute privilege of meeting some of the 21,000 people who got interviewed and hearing their inspirational stories it was meeting such a wide range of people and feeling the buzz as it grew in the Albion Street offices and in Glasgow generally, it was just awesome.
MARION: So many memories. As a Frontrunner I had the most amazing time meeting people from all sorts of backgrounds, age groups and experience from all over the UK, and beyond, who wanted to be part of Glasgow 2014. I worked with a fabulous group of volunteers during the selection/training period and have made many friendships which are still strong after five years.
As well as interviewing we did some accidental fund-raising. From donations for the home-baking which myself and a few other volunteers brought to the volunteer centre, which supported one of our volunteer colleagues who volunteered in Kenya. Our fundraising efforts helped buy desks for a school, and we donated pencils and pens to give to the children allowing them to attend school.
We also thought we’d give a lesser known Commonwealth sport a try. This was lawn bowls as one of our Frontrunner colleagues (who has sadly passed away earlier this year) was a ‘booler’. From that we developed ‘frontboolers’ with a day out at Gourock Bowling Club. As well as having a great deal of fun with our bowling efforts (or lack of), we also raised money from a raffle and a fiendishly quirky quiz which saw around £400 being donated to Ardgowan Hospice. This became an annual event with money raised for the Stroke Association and Diabetes Scotland. This year we held frontboolers7 and our chosen charity for the past few years has been Calum’s Cabin. A charity based in Rothesay which provides holidays for children with cancer or cancer related illnesses. This year we raised over £900
During the Games themselves I worked with a great group of volunteers from all over the UK and still keep in touch with them via social media or occasional meet-ups when paths cross at other volunteering events. I also got to witness some fabulous sporting performances at the Squash and Table Tennis events.
CHRIS: The lead in, as a Frontrunner, was the best volunteering experience I have ever had. I made lots of lifelong friends, met hundreds of inspirational volunteers and I remember many interviews I held with them. The whole event brought a buzz to the city that I have never experienced then, and since. That summer was Glasgow’s happiest summer, ever.
If you had to pick one personal standout moment of those Games, what would it be?
ANDREW: In my Games role I got to look after Sir Chris Hoy when he was chieftain playing host to the young Royals at the Athletes’ Village and another day I ended up not so glamorously holding Katharine Grainger’s piece of gum in my hand which she had to very quickly spit out to make a welcome speech! However my favourite moment was when the entire team from Kiribati took over the VIP lounge to celebrate their first ever gold medal. They gave it laldy all afternoon!
MARION: High-fiving almost every member of Team Scotland as they left the pitch at the Closing Ceremony in Hampden Park!
CHRIS: Choosing one is difficult. As a T2 driver, I carried many important passengers. The wife of a top Commonwealth Games official, athletes, coaches. But the passengers that stick in my mind were the parents of the young Scottish swimmer, Erraid Davies. They were the BEST people in the world. They are so proud of their daughter and they loved talking about her.
How special was it to be a Clydesider and do you still keep in touch with others?
ANDREW: Beyond words really. Being part of something so unique and special was amazing. Through Facebook I’m still in touch with dozens of people and I hope we’ll have a proper reunion again soon.
MARION: It was an absolute honour and privilege to have been chosen as a Clydesider given so many people had applied for the volunteer roles. I still keep in touch with lots of my Frontrunner and Clydesider colleagues and many of them are now very good friends. We meet socially and at other events that we might be volunteering at.
CHRIS: I consider my time as a Clydesider to be one of the best chapters in my life. I was fortunate to be one of the volunteers for the Games and it’s something I will proudly tell my grandkids, when they ask. Yes, I’m still in touch with a huge number, especially through the volunteer group Vamos 2014. Also a fundraising group that meets once a year to raise funds for charity, mostly made up of 2014 Frontrunners as a social gathering, which started in 2014.
What was your favourite sporting moment from the 2014 Games?
ANDREW: I love athletics and used to run a wee bit so my favourite moment was Lynsey Sharp’s epic 800m. She had been ill on the morning of the event but came out and won the silver. The memories of her flat out on the track with the words ‘Get Out Strong, Commit’ written on her hands just summed it up for me but the Rugby Sevens and the chants of U-gan-da! are a close second.
MARION: Probably the look of surprise on Ross Murdoch’s face when he won the 200m Breaststroke gold!
CHRIS: My role meant I didn’t see much of any competition but an overall sporting moment is that the para events were combined with the able bodied events. This was hugely important to the success of the whole Games.
What has being part of Glasgow 2014 meant for you personally?
ANDREW: It made me realise how important it is to give something – your time, some effort, no matter how big or small – to your community and society. It was a very special time. Since then I’ve had lots of brilliant experiences volunteering and probably the one I least expected was being part of a group of athletics volunteers, Track Team 500, that were formed after the Games. We’ve helped out at the World Athletics in 2017 and Euro Indoors in Glasgow in 2019 and I’m now a fairly accomplished hurdle placer and long jump fluffer and raker!
MARION: It was the most amazing experience and I was very lucky to be part of it. It was hailed as the best ever Commonwealth Games and I was privileged to be part of it. Since then I’ve volunteered at a number of the major events which have taken place in Glasgow (Badminton World Cup, Glasgow 2018 European Championships, Glasgow 2019 Indoor Athletics championships) as well as being a long-term volunteer with Scottish Athletics at their indoor season in Emirates, volunteering at the Davis Cup and long term volunteering with the Kiltwalk.
CHRIS: When I started my role as Frontrunner, then driver, I was quite shy, hated being under the spotlight and uncomfortable talking in front of a group of people. Being involved in Glasgow 2014 changed all that. I became confident in many things, learned new roles and was recently asked to be the trustee of a charity. I am 54 just now and, at work, have just completed an apprenticeship that I approached management to do. This will make a huge difference to my life and is something I’d never have done before 2014.
What do you think hosting those Games meant for Glasgow and for Scotland, both at the time and now five years on?
ANDREW: I think there was a huge outpouring of love for the City and a well-deserved pride in the great success that thousands of people working together achieved. That kind of spirit is always there in Glasgow – as an incomer from the Highlands you feel that straightaway. I hope there will be more events in future, Glasgow and the people who live here deserve them. There are so many great venues here and we really know how to put on a show.
MARION: I think it was the perfect opportunity to show the world that Glasgow could excel at hosting large scale sporting events, that it was one of the friendliest cities in the world offering a warm welcome to visitors from all over the world. It set Glasgow on the map which I think is why so many other events have been held here since. Five years on people still talk fondly of the Games and the atmosphere in the city. From a volunteering perspective, the city has access to a wide number of volunteers who remain keen to get involved with whatever events, not just sporting events, are taking place in the city, and a lot of volunteers from all over the UK who are also keen to return to the city to take part in events too. I also think organisers of large scale events know that they will be able to access a high standard of volunteers who will do what they can to make their events a great success.
CHRIS: The legacy of the Games still lives on. People still talk about the ‘best Games ever’ and use Glasgow as a benchmark to beat. In 2014, holding the games in Glasgow and Scotland, made the country proud. The city and country were in the news for a whole different reason. People around the world saw the best of Glasgow and Scotland, they saw that we are friendly and a fantastic place to visit. It kick started a whole new army of volunteers, from the Clydesiders and City Hosts, both groups essential to the running of the event.