With today marking the start of Birmingham 2022’s search for the 13,000 volunteers who will make up the ‘Commonwealth Collective’, we get a behind the scenes look at what that experience was like for three of Glasgow 2014’s ‘Clydesiders’ and how their volunteering has led to a whole host of opportunities beyond the Games.
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While the athletes are the star attraction in the arena, the success of any Games hinges on the dedication and upbeat attitude of an army of volunteers working behind the scenes, making sure everything runs smoothly across venues, transport, uniforms, the Athletes’ Village and so much more.
As the journey begins for the Commonwealth Collective of Birmingham 2022, with applications to volunteer now open across a huge range of roles, here’s what Andrew Miller, Marion Robinson and Chris Quinn had to say about volunteering at a Commonwealth Games.
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 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.
If you had to pick one personal standout moment of those Games, what would it be?
ANDREW: Being a Frontrunner was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done – a year of uplifting events and laughter. 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.
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! 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: 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. The whole event brought a buzz to the city that I had never experienced then, or since. That summer was Glasgow’s happiest summer, ever.
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. 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.
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.
Does volunteering at Birmingham 2022 sound like something for you? Applications are now open for a wide range of roles. Find out more and apply at: Volunteering | Birmingham 2022