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I didn’t know I volunteered!

Colin Hicklin is one of those community spirited people who regularly helps out in his community –  but didn’t actually think of it as volunteering.  He has volunteered for the local Cub group, the Judo club and spent many years organising the Pagham Pram Race.

He has always loved sport and, after moving to the south coast, he became involved in the local sailing club.  He is a fully qualified RYA sailing instructor allowing him to operate the VHS radio, Power Boat, and Rescue Boat. He has been issued with a certificate of competence from the RYA which stood him in good stead when he was persuaded to apply to help at the Rio 2016 Olympics by his wife Jenny.

We asked Colin about his experiences in Rio and why he decided volunteer at a major sporting event for the first time in his 70s.

What made you decide to volunteer for Rio 2016?

Firstly, after Jenny’s experiences in London 2012 and Sochi 2014, I thought she may need me to look after her! I’ve always enjoyed volunteering and thought it was about time I found out what it’s like to volunteer at an Olympic Games. I had never been to Rio and now that I am in my 70s, I thought the opportunity just had to be taken.

What role did you have?

I was so lucky to be given a Field of Play role, Pilot Boat Team member at Marina da Gloria. I have always sailed and couldn’t believe I would be on the water in Guanabara Bay as part of the Rescue boat crew for Olympic sailors. Even now 4 months later, I still have to pinch myself. The Bay is overlooked by the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugar Loaf Mountain. It was a completely surreal experience amidst the sailors, with helicopters filming overhead and alongside.

How did you find the whole experience?

Quite an overwhelming adventure to be part of an Olympic Games especially being able to share this experience with my wife, who was also volunteering at the same venue. It has given us joint memories which we will always treasure and we are excited to be able to pass these truly memorable memories of volunteering onto our grandchildren.

What were the highlights for you?

Every day was a highlight and every day was different – for example, facing an 8-foot wave when we came out of the harbour mouth was a surprise!  We were soaked before we even started and it was at this point, we decided to don our top- of-the range sailing wet gear on every occasion. That particular day, I remained chilly and damp all day and when we finally boarded the ‘hang on for dear life’ bus home, the air conditioning was on full pelt – the one time I definitely wanted some heat!

Another momentous moment was when my son text me while I was in the midst of the finals and said he could see me on TV. He said, he couldn’t believe he was watching the Olympic Sailing with his Dad in the middle of the fleet!

Was there anything that surprised you volunteering at a major sporting event?

Just like any day of anyone’s working lives, we made our journey into work, which never took less than 2 hours, but our ‘hang on for dear life!’ bus took us through beautiful coastal scenery, past Leblon Beach, Ipanema and Copacabana beach. The bus went through built up areas shaded by huge trees, past Favelas, Flamenco Beach and finally Gloria. We constantly said, how this was all part of the experience and how lucky we were. Sometimes, we took the train, and because of the distance from where we stayed in Recreio to the Marina, we often needed help with directions. We were surprised at the miles we walked each day. Average was around 6 and over 9 miles was the most. No wonder we slept so well! We never felt alone or threatened as the Brazilians were so helpful, friendly and respectful. Several times, they even came with us on a leg of our journey to make sure we didn’t get lost. Anyone over the age of 60 was given preferential treatment, even by British Airways in San Paulo airport. Finally, the enjoyment and camaraderie with other volunteers from all over the world was something I will never forget

Has this experience inspired you to continue to volunteer?

I have volunteered all my life, but never for such a huge sporting event. I feel totally inspired to encourage others to do the same.  Some people will say ‘so how do you start the journey?’  With the Internet, you only need to Google for information on volunteering either in your area, or contact Join In. After that you turn up at an event, meet new friends, have fun and enrich yours and other lives.  Being able to volunteer at a Olympics Games was really the icing on the cake.

Would you encourage others to volunteer in sport and why?

Sport helps provide a healthy lifestyle and participating should be encouraged from an early age. It’s exciting, competitive and lots of fun. You don’t have to be sporty to be a sports volunteer but the rewards of helping can really change and enhance your life no matter what age you are.

Colin and Jenny are now planning to go to the Tokyo Games in 2020 and this time it looks like it could be a family affair with their eldest son inspired to apply too!

Recent News

From the stars on the BBC Sports Personality red carpet to the clubs across the UK, #BigThankYou rang out!
From the stars on the BBC Sports Personality red carpet to the clubs across the UK, #BigThankYou rang out!

Another year, another brilliant #BigThankYou!

Andy Murray wasn’t the only winner on Sunday night. As the nation voted for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, thousands of you also helped create the UK’s biggest celebration of sports volunteers.

We are a little stunned to say that – thanks to you – #BigThankYou trended on Twitter for the third year in a row.

From Team GB stars calling up volunteers from the red carpet, to local sports and recreation clubs giving their thanks on social media, it was an incredible evening.

Below you can see our highlights and films from another special evening, all in support of volunteers.

Ryan Giggs makes his #BigThankYou call

Ryan Giggs makes his #BigThankYou call.

L-R: Sisters Ellie and Becky Downie with Claudia Fragapane

L-R: Sisters Ellie and Becky Downie with fellow gymnast Claudia Fragapane.

Swimmer Mark Foster almost couldn't fit in the iconic golden phone box

Swimmer Mark Foster almost couldn’t fit inside the iconic golden phone box.

Plus, the sport sector supported the campaign:

So many clubs got involved too, sharing their thanks for the volunteers that keep them going:


Football clubs across the UK rely on volunteers


Scropton RDA Centre celebrates its volunteers


An overwhelming #BigThankYou for one volunteer

And a final #BigThankYou from all of us at Join In, we couldn’t do it without you!



Volunteers being thanked
Let's make the Big Thank You even bigger this year!

#BigThankYou toolkit for clubs and groups

If you’re a member of a community sport, recreation or physical activity group that relies on volunteers, then here’s your chance to be part of the UK’s biggest thank you to the people who make them tick

On the weekend of 17-18 December 2016, we’re asking you to be part of #BigThankYou. There are no limits to how you can get involved, but here are some suggestions to get you started:

Create a #BigThankYou moment

We know clubs and groups are busy and many are already run by tireless volunteers. So a simple way to help retain your volunteers is a Big Thank You moment in an existing session.


Join In is back on the red carpet with BBC Get Inspired for the #BigThankYou

Join In The Big Thank You 2016

Sports volunteers in the spotlight at BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016!

We are thrilled to announce the launch of #BigThankYou – the UK’s biggest celebration of sports volunteers.

On the weekend of 17-18 December 2016, sports and recreation clubs from around the UK will be sending, shouting, tweeting and posting their photos and thanks to the amazing volunteers that make sport happen in all of our communities. We need you to be part of it – so save the date!

On Sunday 18 December, the celebration will culminate on the red carpet at BBC Sports Personality of the Year in Birmingham – when celebrities and athletes will surprise a host of nominated volunteers with a call to say a #BigThankYou.

Last year’s star callers included tennis world number one Andy Murray, British golfer Rory McIlroy, international rugby hero Dan Carter, Paralympic tennis star Jordanne Wiley and Olympic gold medallists, Max Whitlock, Dina Asher-Smith and Greg Rutherford.


Adam Peaty making a Big Thank You call to a volunteer
Adam Peaty makes a call to a very happy volunteer at BBC Sports Personality 2015

Nominate a volunteer for a #BigThankYou call

Join In and BBC Get Inspired are back on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year red carpet for the #BigThankYou to sports volunteers.

If you know someone who keeps your clubs ticking over by lending a hand, nominate them below – and be in with a chance of receiving a phone call from a sports star at the 2016 BBC Sports Personality of the Year in Birmingham.

By completing this form you agree to the #BigThankYou Terms and Conditions.


The press team had two Legacy Volunteers in it.
The Rio 2016 volunteers - making another Games.

London to Rio and back – the legacy volunteers return

Most of our Join In Legacy Volunteers have now returned from Rio, tired but elated at their experiences from the first Olympic Games to be held in South America. Here they each choose their personal highlights of what it was like to volunteer at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Steve Morris

“There were so many memorable moments and experiences that I struggle to choose a favourite: the hours before shifts spent strolling around the Olympic Park at Barra; stopping to take photos for people and just chatting to them; finding out where they were from and enjoying hearing all about their excitement as part of the world’s number one event; working in the VCM with the press, seeing them telling the rest of the world through photos and creative reporting, sharing this amazing spectacle with those who relied on these guys’ professionalism to make it as real as they could, for the whole world to enjoy. And of course being able to watch so much live sport and on the TVs too. Bring on Tokyo!!”


Over 2,500 clubs took part in I Am Team GB, from Devon to Scotland.
Over 2,500 clubs took part in I Am Team GB, from Devon to Scotland.

The nation’s BIGGEST EVER sports day!

What. A. Day!

From the beach of Hope Cove in Devon to the Copper Box Arena in London, from astronaut Tim Peake in Houston to the riverside in Reading, and from the National Hockey Centre in Glasgow to Greg Rutherford’s backyard, Team GB athletes and thousands (and thousands) of the Great British public shouted ‘I Am Team GB!’

It all kicked off with ITV switching off all seven of it’s channels for an hour, asking the nation to get out and get active. Star of Rio 2016 Max Whitlock did the honours…


The Legacy Volunteers get a few perks for their time – including seeing Team GB House in Rio
The Legacy Volunteers get a few perks, including seeing Team GB House

Rio 2016 volunteers share their stories

Have you ever wondered what the volunteers do at the Olympic Games? The roles and responsibilities are many and varied, so here we introduce a flavour of what some of our Legacy Volunteers have been up to in Rio.



Vin Patel was a Games Maker for the Olympics and Paralympics in London with the event services team in the Olympic Park. In Rio he is seeing a very different side of the action. He is volunteering in Press Operations in the Press conference room. (more…)

Be part of the team – say you're #IAmTeamGB today!
Be part of the team – say you're #IAmTeamGB today!

Join the team!

On Saturday 27 August, we’re teaming up with our returning lottery-funded Olympic heroes to create the nation’s biggest ever sports day, I Am Team GB – and you’re invited!

Brought to you by The National Lottery and ITV, there will be lots of great ways to get involved, including thousands of fun, free events across the country.