Deciding to volunteer for the first time can be a scary thing. You see a post on Facebook, or a friend mentions an event to you, and you wonder if you’d enjoy it. Sometimes you just shrug it off and say ‘maybe next year’ to yourself, but sometimes you take a chance. If you’re thinking now is the time to take that chance, I wanted to share with you what your experience may be like if you join the MS-UK cheering squad.
There is something very special about volunteering at a national event…you realise we’re all in it together. Every race marshal, every charity, every runner, every cyclist, every volunteer – together we’re making it possible for the event to happen.
At MS-UK, we love supporting #TeamPurple, whether it’s at the RideLondon or the British 10k.
As you arrive in London in the morning, there is a sense of anticipation in the air.
The pavements may still be being swept and the barriers are being put along the side of the roads, but as you make your way to Trafalgar Square the buzz is already beginning. The four lions greet you and you know today will be a good day.
You exchange smiles with other volunteers, decked out in the all the colours of the rainbow to support their chosen charities, and as you approach the MS-UK cheering point you’re being greeted with a warm smile and asked if you’d like tea or coffee. As you pull a MS-UK t-shirt over your head you feel part of something truly awesome.
Whispers travel from cheering point to cheering point, and before you know it you are straining to see the first runners or cyclists as you hear that they have crossed the starting line. They keep coming, more and more, the roar of the crowd swells and you can’t help but join in, lifting your voice to shout encouragements at everyone who passes you by.
‘Come on Lilly!’
‘You’re rocking it Ahmed!’
‘Keep going David, you can do it!’
‘Just keep swimming – I mean running!’
‘You got this Katie!’
It doesn’t matter why they are taking part, whether it’s for charity, in memory of a loved one, for themselves to prove they can do it. You lock eyes with them, you raise your rapper clapper into the air and you cheer with all your might.
Of course there is a special kind of feeling when you spot someone in a purple MS-UK top, and you can sense the team around you glowing with pride and excitement.
At the end of the day, as you help take down the sail flags and gulp down water after all that cheering, you look around and realise you have not only made a difference, you have made friends for life. You ask me if you can just ‘hang on’ to the MS-UK t-shirt in case you ever think of volunteering again. I wave goodbye as you head to the nearest tube station or bus stop, but even as you get on board I know you won’t be able to help nodding to people as you spot medals and dirty trainers and charity t-shirts dotted everywhere. Everyone is tired. Everyone is sweaty. And everyone is smiling.
This is what a day volunteering with MS-UK as part of our cheer squad looks like. It’s hard work, it’s amazing fun, and you won’t be going it alone. Whether you are taking your first chance or have been coming along for years now, we’re in it together.