As it’s National Student Volunteer Week our Head of Sport & Physical Activity tells us all about her exciting experiences!

I first got involved in volunteering at a major sporting event from being, as they say, roped in at the last minute to a mountain bike test event run by some friends. They were short of helpers and it was a 5am start on-site!

I’ve always been involved helping out with my various sports clubs and teams as well as helping to develop volunteering for young people in my previous job roles but helping at the mountain bike test event was my first experience at a major event. Since then, volunteering in sport has taken me all over the country and I’ll soon be making my way across the globe to the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

I have volunteered at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games in 2014. Further afield I’ve helped at the World Rowing Championships at Eton in 2013, which was very exciting. I’ve also worked at the 2015 Rugby World Cup and most recently at the World Athletics Championships in 2017 (pictured in header). Each year I also volunteer annually at RideLondon and the London Marathon.

“It was an honour to be selected as a ‘Games Maker’ in London and I felt a real pride in being British and supporting the delivery of such a successful Games.”

I have always worked in sport and I have played international rugby union and netball in my time. Yet, I had no idea how journalists and photographers carry out their roles and achieve great stories and images. Much of my volunteering has been within the sport press operations team and I’ve learnt so much about how they capture our athletes’ best sporting moments for us all to enjoy.

I’ve had great fun in the roles of flash quote reporter, media help-desk volunteer, photography volunteer, mixed zone team leader (where the press meet the athletes to interview them immediately as they come off field of play) and tribunes (where the media sit to watch the match and write their stories). All of this experience has given me a real sense of team working and cooperation in a professional environment. This has all been made so through some great event training and working with the other volunteers who focus on making the event the best it can be. I’ve created some memories for life, spending time with Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Dan Carter – just to name drop a few!

“One of the things I love is that you can keep volunteering throughout your life; in fact I’m just preparing for my trip to the Gold Coast in late March for the Commonwealth Games 2018.”

I have secured a place as a photo volunteer looking after the ‘snappers’ at triathlon and various cycling events. I’m looking forward to meeting up again with other staff and volunteers in press operations, many of whom I’ve worked with at other events. Of course a billy bonus is that you also get free stash, some of which can even be used post-event for training in!

Volunteering has given me the opportunity to visit and spend time in other great cities and countries, I’ve met some wonderful people from all around the world, many of whom are now my friends. These opportunities have allowed me to learn more about the places and people, and it has enabled me to meet and liaise with Olympians, Paralympians, World Cup Rugby players and rowers from around the globe.

“I’d strongly recommend that you make time to get involved in volunteering; you just never know what opportunities it will give you now and in the future. If someone asks for you to help just say yes and see where it takes you!”

Suzanne Glavin
Head of Sport & Physical Activity at The University of Leeds


You can find out more about all our volunteering opportunities on campus, in our community and all over the world on our volunteering page.