The Join In blog: Category "Events"

Meet some of the Runners

I was there …..

An army of volunteers is needed to make any event run smoothly – particularly a major event. Below are some of the experiences in a variety of roles that the Runners, (or ‘pink army’ of volunteers) for the IAAF World Championships 4-13 August in London, had when they joined in to make 2017 “the best world championships ever”.
Alice Martin was part of Competition Delivery Team, which involved putting out the lane markers and blocks for each race.  She also helped with jobs such as putting out the steeplechase hurdles and setting up equipment for the field events.

Her highlight of the championships was on the first night when Sir Mo Farah ran his 10,000m race.

The noise in the stadium was deafening as the crowd cheered and gave the athletes a standing ovation for every one of the 25 laps, and then in the final lap when Mo pulled ahead and won – the atmosphere was just incredible”. 

Mei Lin Edwards volunteered at both the World Para Athletics and IAAF World Championships.  She was part of the Victory Ceremonies Team making sure that the athletes received their medals on time and that everything looked pristine for all the cameras.  For her, every day was a highlight as she had so many opportunities “to meet and serve the medal winners”.

As part of this team, Mei Lin had a variety of duties, including:

“Registration of medal winners, post event control, giving instruction sheets to winners of competitions outlining what day and time they needed to arrive at the stadium for the medals ceremonies. At the end of the shift, many of us stayed behind to roll back the flags onto the poles for storage and use later in the competition.

Above Mei Lin is carrying out one of her tasks – ironing the Polish flag for the medal presentation for the Men’s 4x400m relay on the final evening of the championships.

Simon Barlow was an Athlete Chaperone with the Clean Athletics Team. He worked in the team hotels, pre-competition and in the London Stadium during the competition.  His role was to notify the athlete that they had been selected for a drug test and then escort them to the testing station.  Post-competition testing could be particularly complex:

“If they had media or medal ceremonies, or wanted to warm down, we had to escort them to these areas and then back to the testing station to make sure the first sample gathered from them was in the station. We had to be aware of their location at all times and complete paperwork to say we had observed them; in addition, we weren’t allowed to hand bottles of water or anything else to them, they had to select these items for themselves – to make sure that that nothing interfered with the test results”.

The Athlete Chaperone Team – on the last night at the stadium.

Carol Matta travelled up from Cornwall to be part of the Off-Track Team (Marathons and Walk Races), undertaking tasks within the Call Room, Technical Information Centre and National Technical Officials Support.

Amongst other things I was part of chip distribution – where I helped athletes to collect their race timer chips (small gadgets which record an athlete’s times and split times) and attach these to their shoes – one of the final parts in their race preparation.” 

“My highlight of the championship was helping to escort a group of the women marathon athletes from the call room, then up the steps and onto Tower Bridge for the start of the race – something in my wildest imagination I would never have seen myself doing when I applied to be a Runner last Autumn!” 

Judith Gunion volunteered in the Media Services Team, working in the mixed-zone for both championships.  This is the zone where all the competing athletes come through once their competition is over.

Journalists would let us know in advance if they wanted (to speak to) a particular athlete so we always had to know who had come through and who may still be doing broadcast interviews.  Particular athletes would be wanted for interviews by all the waiting Press and thus they could take quite a while to get through to the mixed zone.

At times the mixed zone could be quite hectic, particularly when Justin Gatlin was being interviewed near the front of the zone and at the same time, we had Usain Bolt finishing his interviews up in the broadcast – area almost ready to come to the mixed zone. 

It is difficult to zero in on just one highlight.  Each day I thought it was the best ever and it couldn’t get better – and then the next day, it did exactly that!”

“But one funny memory comes from the last night.  The athletes get quite hungry waiting to speak to the many different journalists however there was never any food available.  Well that was until the last night. At dinner that last night, there was food being given away so we (volunteers) loaded up on flapjacks, some salads, cereal bars and on our way out, I grabbed a box of lemon muffins.  The flapjacks flew out of the bags and even the salads were gobbled up, despite us forgetting to bring some forks.  Then the relays came through and the British women’s 4x400m were famished, but we had run out of everything, until we remembered the lemon muffins!  They were brought out and the squeals of delight when we offered them round was special. We thought they would turn them down because of ‘my body is my temple’, but they couldn’t wait to dig in, they said we were a ‘top team’.”

Becki Ellsmore (below, far left) was a Spectator Services volunteer at the London Stadium, which involved helping people find their way in, giving out plenty of smiles and high fives, and generally getting the spectators excited for the amazing athletics they were about to watch!

“My highlights have to be a combination of hearing the cheers from inside the stadium when something good happened, and still managing to make people smile on their way into the very, rainy Wednesday evening session despite the downpour”.

Debbie Allery’s role was vital to the smooth running of the championships, yet it didn’t involve her seeing any sport.  She was part of the Accreditation Team based in the athlete hotels and the uniform distribution centre.  Every day she was …

meeting and dealing with everyone who was involved in the event, from volunteers, athletes, security personnel, caterers, broadcasters and media.   We had to check their ID, and make sure it matched what was already in the system.  A process of different stations for each person, from checking to taking their photograph, and handing over their accreditation”.  

We were away from the main event, so did not get any of the atmosphere, but it was lovely to meet all types of people, and work with a great team.  The role had both quiet days and some that were quite stressful!!  

Highlight was working in the hotel when some of Team GB and Team Jamaica arrived, and getting to meet Sir Mo Farah!”

We hope this has given you a quick glimpse into the many different type of roles volunteering offers, whether it is a big event or at grassroots clubs – there really are many opportunities you can join in with.

If you want to get involved and find a volunteering opportunity near you – simply type your postcode into the opportunity finder and help make a difference in your local community.

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I was there …..

An army of volunteers is needed to make any event run smoothly – particularly a major event. Below are some … Continued

Behind the scenes with Rosemary, Malcolm, Victoria and Sarah-Jane

Behind the scenes at the IAAF World Athletics Championships

In the aftermath of the successful IAAF World Athletics Championships, we thought it would be a great idea to catch up with a few volunteers who helped make the Championships such a great success.

We wanted to find out their motivations for volunteering, their experiences during the Championships and, of course, their highlights.  This is what they told us.

Rosemary Head has four children and six grandchildren and spends much of her spare time volunteering in her community.  Having already volunteered at London 2012 and Rio 2016, she didn’t hesitate to put her name forward for London 2017.  Her role was in Spectator Services – meeting the public and dealing with their every need.

Rosemary loved meeting people from all over the world and felt very proud to represent her country. She was surprised at the number of questions she was asked every day, but loved the buzz in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.  From questions about lost property to one little boy who wanted to know…

“Are you here to make people laugh?  Yes, indeed I am, if I can put a smile on people’s faces!”

One of her highlights was to be given a free ticket for the final Saturday evening session, but decided to give it away to a very grateful lady with a young baby whose husband was already in the stadium.

Rosemary has already booked her place at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea and always encourages other people to get involved in volunteering.  Having recovered from breast cancer 10 years ago, she feels she was given a second chance and now makes the most of every opportunity, and at the age of 77, intends to “keep going“.

Malcolm Chevin’s first experience of volunteering was at the Olympic Stadium in 2012 as a Team Leader with Event Services.  Now, as a regular volunteer, he wanted to return to the stadium to relive his initial experiences.  This time he was given the role of Team Attaché for Trinidad and Tobago.

“As an Attaché you never know what you might end up doing, but I was quickly given a few jobs to sort out including getting a Javelin Case through Customs at Gatwick airport and organising getting the laundry done. It’s important to gain the trust of the team members and I was soon integrated and became one of the Team. I chose to work every day as there was always a need to help, and I wanted to make sure that once the Championships were over that I didn’t regret not doing something!”

Malcolm had many highlights at the Championships which included accompanying Jereem Richards, Bronze medallist in the men’s 200 metres, to his medal presentation. But this moment was eclipsed on the final day of the Championships, as Malcolm explains:

“We had a Team debriefing at midday on the final day to discuss how everyone felt things had gone. It was a sombre meeting as we all reflected on the past week. The big issue was the lack of funding and support for the athletes. The team only had a bronze medal to show for all the hard work the athletes had put in; however, there was just one last race left to run, the men’s 4x400m relay – the last race of the Championships. We formed a circle and held hands and one of the Team said a prayer thanking God for the past week and wishing the relay team success in the final. Our prayers were answered that night, the Trinidad and Tobago team won the gold medal in the relay beating the USA. Amazing scenes that capped off an unbelievable 14 days.”

“I would seriously encourage others to volunteer. I have done many major sporting events and they are all different, so expect to be surprised. You never quite know what role you will end up doing, but the camaraderie with fellow volunteers and the whole experience is one that you will never forget.”

Victoria Osibodu also volunteered at London 2012 and Rio 2016 and the timing was perfect for her to volunteer at London 2017.  She was working with the Clean Athletics Team which is responsible for making sure that the drug testing programme is enforced both before and during the Championships.  Victoria relished the challenge it would bring as it was an area she hadn’t worked in before.  She was surprised that the “athletes were still enthusiastic and happy to help even when you wake them up at 7am for dope testing”.  

Victoria was lucky to be in the London Stadium the night that Sir Mo Farah won his gold medal in the 10,000m, but says her absolute highlight was “being present at the first world record in the 50km women’s walk”.

As a keen supporter of grass roots sport, Victoria has already been back helping at her local athletics club at an open competition and urges others to get involved in their community:

“I would encourage others to volunteer especially at a grassroots level because there isn’t a better feeling when you see the kids develop and go on to compete on a bigger stage. You feel like you are a proud parent.”

Sarah-Jane O’Brien couldn’t wait to get involved in London 2017.  Having volunteered for the first time at the London 2012 Olympics, she became an interviewer for London 2017.  She helped interview some of the thousands of people who applied to be part of the IAAF World Athletics Championships.  She then got involved in supporting the training of the volunteers before taking up a role with the Ticketing Team in the London Stadium as a Stand Support Volunteer.

“We resolved ticket queries and showed spectators to their seats. We were in the Stadium to answer questions, take photos for them and make sure they enjoyed their experience. A lot of tickets were sold a year ago so it’s been a long wait but it was amazing to see how excited people were when they came in and first saw the track. I also made an appearance on BBC1 as Ore Oduba and Greg Rutherford were discussing the Long Jump final!”

Sarah-Jane loved talking to the public and making sure everyone had a great time. She had two stand out highlights from her time in the stadium.

“I met an 87-year-old spectator who had been a sprinter and competed in the 1952 Olympics. She came to watch 3 events and looked so happy to be there. Sport wise hearing the roar from the crowd as Mo Farah won gold on the first evening was something I will never forget. It was deafening!”

One of things which surprised Sarah-Jane the most was the number of familiar faces she met every day.

“When I volunteered at the London 2012 Olympics five years ago I didn’t know anyone else who volunteered. Now five years later, not a day went by when I didn’t see several friends as I walked through the park to start my shifts. Volunteering is like a family, you get to see the same faces at all the different events and you become friends. I was also pleased to see so many first-time volunteers who were too young to do it five years ago but saw the Games Makers and that inspired them.

And that is why Sarah-Jane would recommend volunteering and encourages people to get involved.

“I am always meeting new people and telling them about my experiences. There are so many opportunities out there and you get to meet people from all different backgrounds and locations. I have even travelled abroad to volunteer – in Amsterdam at the European Athletics Championships 2016 and Rio Olympics 2016. Some of my closest friends are volunteers, we meet up and go to see the ballet or a theatre show together. Volunteering has enhanced my life more than I ever thought possible and I would recommend it to anyone.”

Sarah-Jane is now aiming to volunteer at Tokyo 2020.

We hope this blog has given you an insight into what it is like to volunteer at an event and the many different volunteering roles that you can get involved with. There really is something for everyone.

Check out the opportunities on the Join In website today and get involved!

The "pink floyd" high five!

Insights and Highlights

We all know that volunteers make sport happen – at both a grassroots level and at major sporting events – the World Para Athletics Championships are no exception. Volunteers (called Runners) share some of the highlights from their volunteering experience at last week’s Championships in London.

Mary O’Leary –  Team Attaché for Team Ireland reflects on her week:

“Well another great volunteering & sporting event has come to an end. It’s amazing how time goes so fast but during the course of the World Para Athletics so many happy memories and experiences to cherish.  Getting selected to be a ‘Runner’ at the Championships was a real honour but then to be offered the role of Team Attaché for Team Ireland – well, just made my heart full of pride.  The atmosphere is unbelievable from the spectators, fellow volunteers, athletes and support staff – it all creates such a positive vibe that it was impossible not to feel happy to be a part of such an event. And when the school children arrive excited and asking for high-fives – their enthusiasm and spirit for the occasion and willingness to cheer every athlete in the stadium was just wonderful and very contagious.

I enjoyed all aspects of my role and loved supporting my team at all their events.  I was lucky to experience Team Ireland winning 7 medals and that meant 7 medal ceremonies. Being with the team and making sure the athletes’ families were allowed close access to the stage was part of my role at ceremonies. Singing the Irish National Anthem wasn’t compulsory, but I was not going to miss the opportunity, so the fact I got to do it four times, and also to wear my Irish flag earrings – was simply amazing. I even got the chance to wear my shamrock ear-rings on other days. The entire experience was just wonderful and my face must have shown just how much as I overheard someone saying how much ‘Mary loves a ceremony!’

The entire experience has given me so many lovely memories but handing the Irish flag to Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop after they won their gold medals, and then being able to watch them on their lap of honour and being interviewed still holding their flags, was just fabulous. Michael surprised me in the Heroes Village by thanking me for all the support I had given him and the team. What a great team and I feel so proud to have played a small part in the success of the World Para Athletics 2017.

What a great team and I feel so proud to have played a small part in the success of the World Para Athletics 2017″.

Lauren Crawley was originally selected to volunteer as a buggy driver, but through her flexibility and ability to learn quickly she directly contributed to a world record .  Following her experience, she is thinking about qualifying as a field official.

If I had finished my volunteering experience at the World Para Athletics Championships on the first night, I would have been very happy. But it turned out that buggy drivers were also part of the wider equipment team, so with too many buggy drivers signed on, I was directed to the training for fixing chairs into place for the women’s (F52) seated discus throw.

I had some quick, basic training (I heard the last sentence of how to use the very technical ratchets!) before being whisked off to eat as we would be on the field of play for the whole session. Interacting with the officials, athletes, coaches and working closely in a team with other volunteers was great fun and I both learnt and improved on the job. I can even say that I directly helped to contribute to a world record – what an inspiring evening!


The rest of my shifts were extremely varied. I did get to drive the buggy on a couple of occasions picking up some weights for the training room and stocking up water in the containers out on the field. Other very random tasks included marking up additional lanes for the guides in the blind races, setting up equipment for the high jump and raking the long/triple jump pits, adding plasticine to the long/triple jump boards and transporting equipment (shot, discus, javelin, chairs for the seated throws) to the training sites and field of play. Through being thrown into a bit of everything and anything, I have met some great (patient and flexible) people, I have also discovered that I am capable of turning my hand to more than I thought I could and have developed muscles that I didn’t know existed! I will definitely look into becoming a field official following these championships. I can’t think of any other sport with so much variety (or so much equipment!).”

As part of the Sport Competition Team, Mandeep Chahal spent much of his time on the track supporting the athletes and had a front row seat for the action

“Back at the call room I started my first event by accompanying the athletes out. There were only six high jumpers on the day and two were from India.  The athletes had variations of lower leg impairments and each approached the bar in a different way. I was amazed at their athleticism and determination in finding different ways to get over that bar. It starting raining lightly so there was always a danger of slipping. Unfortunately, one of the athlete slipped as he was about to take off and he fell backwards hitting the back of his head. The medics rushed on and the competition was halted for about 20 minutes while they checked him out. After a while he stood up to a huge applause from the audience. But unfortunately, it ended his competition and he was taken off for further tests.

The crowd were engaged throughout the entire competition when it finally ended with the Americans taking the gold and the 2 Indian athletes taking silver and bronze. I then led the athletes back to the mixed zone with the crowd cheering all along the walk down the finishing straight. It made me feel so proud to be part of the Championships.

It was then off to lead out the 5000m race athletes. The British crowd were incredible with their support, cheering the athletes as they enter the stadium and throughout the competition – even when they are leaving. No wonder there is a call to have the World Para Athletics in London every time.”

If you were lucky enough to have a ticket for the World Para Athletics Championships, you may well have been greeted by Ritchie Parrott and his team of volunteers.

I think my highlight of the World Para Athletics Championship has to be something that was affectionately known by the Spectator Services team as the ‘pink Floyd’.


During every shift, just as the crowd was coming towards the stadium and starting to slow down, a call would come through to the team leaders on the radio to come together at one bridge.  These teams would then form an avenue of Runners who were all armed with the branded foam fingers.  We would then encourage the spectators to come through the middle and to be high-fived by everyone.  We had all sorts of people come through: children, adults, grandparents, people in wheelchairs and those on prosthetic legs.  At one point we were also visited by a Channel Four film crew who had heard what was happening.
It was such a simple but hugely effective way of energising the crowds and making the volunteers feel like they had done a brilliant job of giving the crowds the best possible welcome.”
And they certainly did that!  They showed the amazing spirit of volunteering as part of team and many of them will do it all over again later this week as London welcomes the IAAF Word Athletics Championships to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
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…


We've seen the Team GB kit, but how does it all happen behind the scenes?
We've seen the Team GB kit, but how does it all happen behind the scenes?

Behind the scenes at the Team GB Rio 2016 kitting out – Part 1

You’ve probably seen the new Stella McCartney-designed Team GB kit, recently unveiled for Rio 2016. But ever wondered how they get their athletic hands on it? Andrew Hartopp went behind the scenes as a kitting out volunteer…

Part 1  |  Part 2 

“The process started back on 2 June when over 70,000 items of kit were delivered by lorries into hall 3A of the NEC in Birmingham. These items will kit out over 1,200 members of Team GB, from athletes to coaches and back-up staff.

Huge lorries look tiny in the cavernous NEC Birmingham (more…)

Be in with a chance of boosting your club by £250 – enter today
Be in with a chance of boosting your club by £250 – enter today

Be part of I Am Team GB and win £250 for your club

Need another reason to join I Am Team GB? Well here it is…

I Am Team GB is inviting sports clubs and events to open their doors to the public on Saturday 27 August, as part of the nation’s biggest ever sports day – and we want you to be part of the action.

To celebrate this event, ITV are offering sports clubs and groups the chance to win £250 worth of vouchers to purchase kit or equipment.

Your sports club could be one of 10 lucky winners to bag this £250 prize to boost your team. So whether you’re in need of swimsuits for your synchro team, wickets for your cricket club or jerseys for your judo group, sign your club up to I Am Team GB for your chance to win.

Create a event page today

By creating an I Am Team GB event on the Join In website your club or group will be entered into the competition to win £250 worth of vouchers for your club or group. See full terms and conditions here.



Why Cheslyn Hay Tennis Club is taking part in the nation's biggest sports day
Why Cheslyn Hay Tennis Club is taking part in the nation's biggest sports day

A London 2012 tennis legacy

Since setting up during London 2012, Cheslyn Hay Tennis Club has grown to over 200 people taking part every week. Here they talk about being open to all and how they are looking forward to I Am Team GB.

How important do you think the Olympic legacy has been for the club?

“The London 2012 Olympics inspired young people to take part in sport whatever their ability. There was a massive buzz four years ago and the legacy must continue. Now it is the role of community sports clubs around the country to take the lead and ensure young people continue playing sport. Through providing enjoyable and positive experiences it will hopefully leave them wanting to come back for more!

How has the club grown since then?


Helen Curtis, bottom row middle, is one of the London 2012 volunteers heading to Rio.
Helen Curtis, bottom row middle, is one of the London 2012 volunteers heading to Rio.

Join In’s Rio 2016 Legacy Volunteers

A few lucky volunteers from London 2012 are off to Brazil for Rio 2016. Here we kick off their adventures…

As a London 2012 legacy charity, Join In takes pride in the Games Makers and the impact they had on volunteering across the country. Many of our volunteers started their journey at London 2012, so with Rio 2016 just around the corner it’s no surprise that these dedicated volunteers are off to Brazil, to play their part and get closer to the action.

To celebrate these outstanding volunteers we’ve selected a group of Rio 2016 Legacy Volunteers. These incredible volunteers will be our eyes and ears in Rio, keeping you up to date with the latest from behind the scenes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. (more…)

Judith helped thousands of people to see the trophy this year.
Judith helped thousands of people to see the trophy this year.

Behind the scenes at the Champions League Final

Football fan Judith Gunion has volunteered at three UEFA Champions League finals. She shares a behind-the-scenes peek from this year’s final in Milan.

Day 1

“This is my third Champions League Final since I started in London in 2013. Last year was my first foreign sojourn with UEFA when I was accepted as a volunteer for the Berlin final in 2015. And this year, so determined was I to be accepted that I started learning Italian in night classes so I could honestly say on the application that I had basic Italian.


Judith with her fellow volunteers at the 2015 Champions League final. (more…)

Helen, right, was the Results Announcer at the Aquatics Centre.
Helen, right, was the Results Announcer at the Aquatics Centre.

Lending a hand (and a voice) at the European Aquatics Championships

The 2016 European Aquatics Championships have taken place this week at London’s iconic Aquatics Centre, where Europe’s best swimmers, divers and synchro swimmers are competing for the coveted title of European champion.

We go behind the scenes to meet Join in Local Leaders Helen Seamer and Jo Bartholomew – and find out about their experience of volunteering at such a major event.

One of approximately 140 volunteers, Helen was asked to help out as results announcer at the synchronised swimming event, having gained some experience in the role at national level. “It was a great opportunity to be involved in sports presentation at the next level” says Helen. “I now have a whole new perspective on how a major event is presented to a live audience and learned such a lot from the professionals on the crew.

I had a clear view of all the action from my poolside seat and it was fantastic to see what is happening at the top of the sport – with the world champions Russia there to defend their European titles. It was also exciting to see the British team in action, including the duet of Olivia Federici and Katie Clark who have secured a quota place for Rio. They must have been thrilled with the reaction from the hugely supportive audience!” (more…)