ANN McKECHIN recounts her experience of being one of the thousands of volunteers making Glasgow's Games possible.
PEOPLE make Glasgow is the city’s latest marketing slogan but it is also the lasting impression for the tens of thousands of visitors to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Last week I swapped the benches of the House of Commons to join the 13,000 plus Clydesiders who are a key part of the huge engine which is driving Glasgow’s biggest ever event.
I’ve spent the last six days welcoming the Games Family and VIP guests to the marvellous Tollcross International Swimming Centre which has undergone a major refurbishment for the Games.
On our first morning we greeted the Prime Minister, David Cameron, First Minister Alex Salmond, the Presidents of Fiji and Singapore and, not least, HM the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh all within a two hour period!
Our small team who had just met a couple of hours beforehand managed to pull out all the stops to ensure the visits went smoothly guided by our magnificent team managers, Gemma and Suzanne who both work for Glasgow Life.
It was great fun to work with such a friendly and enthusiastic set of volunteers. A few of our group had been volunteers at the London Olympics and wanted to enjoy the experience again here in Glasgow – they have been delighted with the warm welcome they have received throughout the city.
Volunteers came from all corners of the UK and stayed in friends’ houses, caravan parks and even campsites, all at their own cost, so they could take part.
We met guests from many of the 71 nations of the Commonwealth and were able to join with them in seeing some truly world class sporting performances – special admiration for the Barbados officials who wore fleece jerkins on one of the hottest days of the year and kept them on whilst watching the competition in a very warm pool!
The atmosphere in the city has been truly amazing and I’ve been struck by how friendly everyone has been and the number of conversations I have had with total strangers over such a short period of time.
The cultural programme has filled our streets with song, performance and art and the G sign in George Square has quickly become Scotland’s favourite spot for group photos.
Glasgow has witnessed the biggest influx of visitors in its history and its citizens have responded to the challenge with humour and warmth. Even the chap tasked with packing passengers on to the platform at Buchanan Street underground managed to turn it into a form of entertainment with a loud booming theatrical voice.
That sense of irreverence came across in the Opening Ceremony which turned Tunnock's Teacakes and Scottish terriers into cult items but at the same time rightly had a clear message on the need for tolerance.
Along with many others, I will have very happy memories of the Games for many years to come and I am sure that our city will benefit from our ability to showcase not only 10 days of first rate sport but a confident and welcoming community.
We should all be proud of how the Friendly Games have been welcomed in the Commonwealth’s Friendliest City.
You can view this original blog post in the Daily Record Online.