One item on Jonathan Meredith’s wish list was to be a volunteer at an Olympic or Commonwealth Games. 14000 volunteers were needed and 40,000 applications were received. After a protracted interview period and 1 or 2 false starts, his wish was granted, after which he attended 2 training sessions. However rather than being located at the main sporting venues, he was based at Warwick University, one of the main accommodation centers for the visiting athletes. Here he greeted the visitors, guiding them to their accommodation and ensured they caught the correct bus which then ferried them to the appropriate sporting venue.
Jonathan explained that because the original venue, Durban in South Africa, pulled out for financial reasons, Birmingham took on the project rather late. However, as Birmingham didn’t have all the required sporting facilities locally, 15 different venues as far afield as London had to be used. With around 2000 athletes and trainers from 57 nations to be transported far and wide, it became a complicated operation.
None of the volunteers received any funding to cover their expenses, one having come all the way from Scotland. During the games, Jonathan did 12 x 8 hour shifts – 7 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 from 8.30 a.m. to 4.15 p.m.
Although Jonathan didn’t get to see any of the sporting activities, or a medal ceremony, he met some wonderful people, both athletes and trainers and said if the games were deemed successful, then he was very proud to have been one of the volunteers, without whom the games couldn’t take place. A Rotarian through and through!