Over 110 volunteers will be the face of the Aegon Open Nottingham 2015, investing their spare time to make the event a smash.
They will learn about the roles they will be undertaking at a training event this weekend – ahead of Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June), an annual campaign which celebrates the fantastic contribution that millions of volunteers make across the UK.
Many volunteers are from the region with around half living in Nottinghamshire but there are a few that have travelled as far as Suffolk and the Isle of Man to support the tournaments.
The successful candidates were selected by the Lawn Tennis Association from a total of 230 applications. Spanning a wide age range from 16 years to 75+, some will be volunteering for the first time whilst others have several years experience to offer.
Every volunteer will be doing two different roles each day, giving them the chance to experience all aspects of the tournament, including Court Stewarding, Wayfinding, Ticket Checking and assisting the schools festival/activities zone.
As Volunteer Manager Hugh Stirling is responsible for co-ordinating the volunteers. Hugh was appointed after running a successful volunteer programme for the Tennis Foundation at their flagship wheelchair tournament, the 2014 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters. Over 70 volunteers were recruited and trained to help deliver a world class experience for everyone who attended the five day competition in London’s Olympic Park.
Hugh said “The most important aim of that programme was to use the volunteering opportunities to extend the tennis landscape to parts of the city where participation in the sport is low. To achieve this we promoted the opportunity through local councils, universities and the online volunteering community, rather than the traditional route of contacting private clubs and their members.
“The goal for the Aegon Open programme is very much the same. It is crucial that tennis strives to be an open and inclusive sport. We are determined to ensure that the people of Nottingham are able to play a major role in making this an unforgettable sporting event by offering a volunteering opportunity that is open to all.
“You don’t need to know tennis inside-out to help out at the Aegon Open Nottingham. For us, the best volunteers are those individuals that bring bags of enthusiasm and commitment to every role they do!”
Glen Harris spotted the advert for volunteers on an e-mail he received through his local tennis club in Gotham. Aged 56, Glen started to play tennis as a way of keeping fit after retiring from his role as Regional Director for the Private Banking sector three years ago. “Tennis has been good for me”; he says. “I have gained new friends and it’s benefited me physically and mentally too. I saw this as an opportunity to give something back at what I’m sure will be a great event.”
Councillor David Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at Nottingham City Council, said: “Volunteering is a great way to make a positive impact on the community and others whilst gaining transferable skills and a sense of achievement. On behalf of the council I’d like to thank all those who have taken up this opportunity and hope their experience is a memorable one.”
The Aegon Open Nottingham (WTA) Tournament Director, Rebecca James, said “The volunteer response that we have had from Nottingham, across the Midlands and UK as a whole has been fantastic.
“Everyone involved in the Aegon Open Nottingham is vital to helping make it a hit and that goes from the stars on court, including British No. 1 Heather Watson and former World No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska, to those people who give up their time to volunteer in roles such as court stewards and ticket checkers.
“The people that spectators first hear and see when they come to the event at the Nottingham Tennis Centre will be the volunteers, so they all have an exciting part to play in creating a real buzz for the start of the British grass court season.”