Diary of a volunteer – Paddle Round the Pier 2015
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OK, I’ll admit – it’s an early start for a weekend– I had to be on site and reporting to the volunteer co-ordinators at 8am, and in the torrential rain, I doubted whether anyone would want to venture out to a free festival, no matter how impressive !
The atmosphere on site soon cheered us all up though, and as we stood around and listened to the safety briefing, I realised what a massive scale operation this really is. After the briefing we were advised to walk the length of the site to familiarise ourselves with it all, and it is HUGE ! The exhibitors were wandering around in bright spirits (probably from the party the night before for all staff and exhibitors!) and when we returned, we were very soon put to work in groups. I quickly got to know Ali, the girl I had been paired with, and it turned out we had very similar interests in music and sports stuff.
Our first job of the day was to manage the Sand pit area, making sure that the schedule and itinerary for the sand-pit was adhered to, and amusing the kids that tend to play in it in-between the competitions held there. We would talk to passers-by on the seafront, and could watch all the water-sports races that were going on from the beach. Paddle something unusual was hilarious watching all the different crafts struggling and sinking! The weather had cleared and was starting to brighten up, so the co-ordinators came and delivered us water and sun-cream, and then moved us all around to rotate our duties for the day so we didn’t get bored. Next we were given donation buckets and just had to be happy, and walk around the site asking the general public for their donations. We were given full information packs so we could answer any questions we got as we walked round, such as the site layout, or all about the charities that we were collecting for. If only I had a pound for everyone that asked me where the nearest loo was !!!
Well, it is true that time flies when you’re having fun, and before we knew it, it was lunchtime so we went back to the volunteers tent and got our free packed lunch, which was a sandwich, fruit and a drink, and had about a half hour sit down and chat with other volunteers before being re-assigned to our next job, which was to help with all the huge crowds around the kids stage. I think they were doing some kind of raffle and needed the extra pairs of hands selling tickets to the audience, and organising the prize stock behind the stage. I also ended up helping to put safety bands on all the little kids in the crowd with their parents emergency contact details too, before disappearing off to help in the Bone Yard, which is the Doggy show area of the site, as they had their lunchtime Dog Shows going on. After that I was re-united with Ali, and we went off to help with the registration of some of the swim competitors, making sure we had their bags, and all their details logged for safety reasons – that was manic….but I had the Crew team to show me what to do and soon got the hang of it.
We were encouraged to take photos and have as much fun as possible whilst working, and were constantly checked on to make sure we were OK, and offered water and rest breaks in between different jobs. Our last job of the day was to help clear the site of visitors, and encouraging people to leave their groups where they’d got comfortable in front of the music stage watching amazing acts in the summer sunshine with a Pimms wasn’t always easy !
All-in-all it was a long day, and I did loads of different jobs, but as long as you are willing to do anything with a smile you’ll enjoy every minute. I made some great new friends and wouldn’t have missed it for the world – I’m definitely gonna get some more friends involved next year and come back to do it all again in 2016 !