Volunteering stories

Volunteer holding pads while helping a child box

Volunteer Stories

Volunteers are the heartbeat of sport and physical activity in Glasgow.

Glasgow Life Sport provides support to third sector groups and volunteers to develop confident, skilled volunteers.

We are delighted to share stories from the many fantastic volunteers and voluntary clubs in the city.

Basketball has been John Campbell's life for 64 years.

And for the majority of that time he has volunteered with Hillhead Secondary School and Glasgow Rens. He has coaches, he has been club secretary and he has most definitely made a major impact on basketball and more importantly those who he has come into contact with during his time in the sport.

John is currently the club secretary for Glasgow Rens and has been volunteering at the club for over 15 years. The club has seen massive growth and development in this time and that is in large part thanks to John.

He has laid the foundations for a successful solid club structure at Ren’s which creates opportunities for players of all abilities, backgrounds from 23 different nationalities.

He has also been a leading figure in Basketball in Glasgow over many years, through his role as the Chair of the Basketball Development Group, his unwavering commitment to schools’ basketball and supporting opportunities for girls to play the sport. 

On court John has coached multiple school teams to Glasgow and Scottish Schools Cups titles, supported club teams to national  titles and coached players to national team level.

This year however, the priority for John was to create increased participation/recreational opportunities within the club to develop young players who will never complete at a high level but have a love for the game and just want to play.

John natural warm personality leads to the great relationships with all parents, coaches and players at the club and he is always looking to go above and beyond for anyone who needs his assistance. Off court, John’s commitment to his players is evident in his kindness, compassion, and removal of any barriers to participation 

After 64 years of dedicating his life to basketball John is ready to hand over the reins of Glasgow Ren’s and reduce his volunteer input to the club.

Glasgow Life - Sport would like to recognise John and note our appreciation for his dedication to basketball, sport and Glasgow.

Gillian is currently the secretary of the Glasgow + North Strathclyde badminton Group having volunteered within the group for 16 years

During this time, Gillian has been the driving force behind the Junior League which offers players from 8-20yrs of all levels and abilities a fun, friendly and safe environment to develop their playing and game skills with a pathway into club badminton.

After 16 years, Gillian has decided to step down as the Junior league co-ordinator where she led on all pre-event planning, volunteer co-ordination, communications, match scheduling and scoring to ensure a positive experience for all players, volunteers and families involved.

This season alone, Gillian led on 10 events from September until May providing an opportunity for 611 junior players from 20 clubs across the city. Gillian has faced many challenges this season due to reduced facility access and increased demand but her commitment to accommodating all entries to avoid disappointment was commendable, sacrificing many additional volunteer hours (on top of what she already gives) re-doing draws, shuffling groups to provide the best experience for all players.

Gillian is immensely proud of how far she has taken the league – when she took over there was only five events a year with approximately 30 players per event.

There are now ten events, and the numbers are now getting towards pre-Covid levels of 100.

Glasgow Life - Sport would like to take this opportunity to thank Gillian for her commitment to badminton and sport within the city.

Sometimes I’ll be going along the street and get a tap on the shoulder – remember you coached me 15 years ago! And to be fair they’re a bit bigger now!”

When Glasgow welcomed in the world for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the welcoming face of the city was provided by 12,300 Clydesiders. The event whet the appetite of existing volunteers and kick-started a new generation of volunteers, who have supported major event after major event within the city. Michael McEleney has volunteered for over 30 years within sport in Glasgow. He was a Clydesider in 2014 and this opportunity and support he has received from Glasgow Life have made a massive impact on his volunteering journey.

How did you get started in volunteering?

“I’d always been active and involved in Sport. After my accident 40 years ago, Sport was my uplift because I wouldn’t say no. I’d get involved in anything - Archery, Shot Put and represented the British team. As for volunteering? Right place at the wrong time!! I was in Scotstoun and someone asked if I could show the kids how to use the wheelchairs and that was me hooked. Their reaction to someone they could identify with and the difference I felt I could make gave me the motivation to do more.”

What is your favourite volunteering memory?

“It has to be the 2014 Commonwealth Games – which was a fantastic experience. I couldn’t believe I was involved in those games, in my own city – doing what I was doing and meeting athletes. It was a great event to be part of! And you still bump into other volunteers in shopping centres and out and about! It really encouraged me to take part in more events…when it didn’t clash with my Basketball. I really enjoyed that. I’ve since volunteered at events like the European Championships (2018) and both Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup tennis events in 2022 at the Emirates Arena

Why do you still volunteer?

“I like being involved, helping people. Just doing my bit to encourage more people to get and stay involved. A lot of kids I’ve met that are now excelling within their sport , maybe playing somewhere else or even coaching. It’s satisfying to see the difference I, and the rest of the team, have made.

How have Glasgow Life supported your volunteering journey?

“The support I’ve received from Glasgow Life has been massive in making my volunteering a positive experience and helping me to enjoy so many great opportunities. I was nominated by Glasgow Life for the role as Torchbearer for the 2012 Paralympics, which I’ll always remember, and for support through the Volunteer Improvement Programme (VIP).  I really enjoyed VIP and learned more in the months on the programme than on any other training opportunity. It opened my eyes to so many different sports - some I hadn’t even heard off. It gave me more information, more encouragement in how I could pass information on and help others from what I had been taught. I became more focused on my volunteering and how I could improve and help other people!’

I haven’t looked back since and I’ve loved my time volunteering on the events Glasgow has been so fortunate to host and also in my own community volunteering passing on my experience to others!”

“The people who coach and volunteer at our club are essential, without them there would be no club. Glasgow Life Sport has always supported our coaches and volunteers into coaching courses … they help to provide funding for courses and signpost us to any training that may help us.”

Antonia Quayle, a boxing coach within Southside Boxing Academy, attended a Boxing Scotland Level 1 course after receiving support from the Coach and Officials Award.

“I feel much more confident since being on the course … I have learned a lot about boxing coaching, and I am using this at the club. There are not many female boxing coaches … it’s great I can now coach and help the young people and can help the girl boxers.”

Antonia is a fantastic role model within the club to all of the young boxers, and in particular to those girls that attend. For a club like Southside Boxing, coaches like Antonia are worth their weight in gold and access to funding support for training can make all the difference in keeping them at the club. Since 2020, the Coach and Officials Award has supported 6 coaches from Southside Boxing Academy through coach education to help create strong foundations and the right environment for those participating at the club.

 “Glasgow Life Sport is a great help to our club and our coaches. It helps us to encourage volunteers to get on courses, without this help fewer people would do this training. People who volunteer give so much and it’s a lot to ask them for money for training. You can see the difference in the coaches after these courses, they are more confident … as the lead coach it makes my life so much easier ... we have more qualified people who can give better coaching to our boxers”.

Volunteers in action

Person in Wheelchair
Michael McEleney
Two people sitting at table and one person standing behind
Gillian Allan
John Campbell

Volunteer in sport