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Volunteers' Week Day 1 - Event Volunteering

01 June 2016

Enniskillen born Jeff Nelson and his family live in Castlerock and Jeff is getting ready to volunteer as a marshal in the upcoming Gran Fondo which takes place over the first weekend in June. Jeff (61) has volunteered for many events since the Giro d’Italia, which took place in 2014. This year the event has got greater significance for him and his family as his son is travelling half way round the world to take part.

Here is Jeff’s story:

“I was inspired to become a volunteer when I was fortunate enough to attend some of the London 2012 events.  I met and saw those who were volunteering at the Olympics and it amazed me that every question or query I put to them was answered in such a positive and confident manner and was invariably the correct answer, that I decided I would love to experience that sort of opportunity and would therefore attempt to volunteer as soon as possible.

Initially I volunteered at the Giants Causeway as part of the Ranger staff. I took guided tours and graduated to taking school parties of all ages round the famous stones. I really enjoyed this experience, meeting all the visitors and students, because, if there is one thing I am passionate about it is Northern Ireland and the tremendous opportunities it gives to visitors and locals alike.

My opportunity to volunteer in a significant event came with the announcement that the Giro d’Italia Big Start was coming to the Provence in 2014. The web site set up to support the event directed me to register with Volunteer Now which I did.

I thoroughly enjoyed my 3 days with Giro,  it was great to really experience the cyclist up close and the whole atmosphere and organisation encompassing such an international event. I was part of a team that was well trained and focused, whose primary purpose was to enhance the overall visitors experience for that event.

Since the Giro I have volunteered for the Grand Fondo 2015, the Irish Open golf, the Tall Ships race and most recently the food Expo.

My experience has been equally rewarding at all these events. Full training is given so you are never put in a situation for which you are not equipped or able to cope with. The other volunteers are like minded people with a positive attitude, sense of purpose and above all a sense of fun.

Volunteer Now dedicated staff provides all the necessary training, and background briefings leading up to each event. The volunteers need to be identifiable so some form of uniform is given out. On the day itself you are well looked after. Full support is always on hand as is transport and refreshments if they are required. It is amazing and yet humbling how each event relies so much on the volunteers to make it all happen and come together.

I’m volunteering again for the Gran Fondo which takes place on 5 June.  There was no hesitation in putting my name forward. For me it will be even more significant this year as my son is taking part.

My son Tim (36) lives in Brisbane Australia. He is a mad keen cyclist which was also a major reason why I was so keen to volunteer for the Giro itself. I knew he follows such races, and the very fact that the Big Start was happening in Northern Ireland made it even more poignant.  He did indeed follow it.

Tim is currently working in Seattle in America. Glibly I sent him details of this year’s race ending my email with ‘why don’t you come over’. I never really expected him to say yes! So he’s flying for 12 hours, arriving the Thursday before, completing the Mourne route (along which I hope to be marshaling) and then flying back to Seattle on the Tuesday following.  All this for a cycle ride!”

Over 200 volunteers will be involved in Gran Fondo this weekend in a variety of roles and with the race taking place during Volunteers’ Week, Volunteer Now would like to take this opportunity to thank not only these volunteers but all volunteers across Northern Ireland who give time to  make their community a better place to live.

Would you like to be an Events volunteer?

At Volunteer Now we have recruited and trained volunteers for a range of events including the 2011 British Transplant Games, 2012 Irish Open, 2013 World Police and Fire Games and recently the 2014 Big Start Giro d'Italia, along with the Giro d'Italia Gran Fondo in 2015 and 2016.

For more information about Event volunteering, contact events@volunteernow.co.uk

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