I wish I had started sooner.
A close friend of mine started volunteering as a flag marshal at Highlands Motorsport Park almost as soon as that excellent facility opened March 2013. I had been attending events and visiting the New Zealand Motorsport Museum.
During one event I popped over to the paddock during the lunch break to catch up with Steve who back then was on recovery, pulling cars out of trouble.
“You’d like doing this”.
“I wouldn’t know what I was doing”.
“Don’t worry about that, you’ll soon figure it out and they’ll show you what to do”.
Fast forward to November 2015 and it is Australian GT Championship decider and Highlands 101 weekend.
“We need people, can you help?”
“I can do Saturday if this is OK?”
I had a blast and I’ve never looked back since (until now, I guess).
I had been looking for something to volunteer for in order to do some community service. The problem I had was that the usual worthy causes out there just didn’t “spin my wheels”. I know that is rather selfish and that once I got going I’m sure I would have been OK, however, I want to do things that are a “Hell Yeah!” not just an “OK”. I’m not sure how others tick in regard to this side of things but once I commit to something, I’m all in, even if I don’t like something. I suck it up and look for the best of the situation to get through. This works to contribute and get something done, to help out, but it can also be seen as some sort of martyrdom or self flagellation, definitely not healthy for a long term commitment to the greater good.
All this came to a head when an external marketing consultant at a place I was working at asked for our “profiles”. One question I could not answer was something like; What Causes or Organisations do you support? It was their surprise that I didn’t have anything at the time (I had been a secretary and club committee member for cricket, because no-one else would) that caused me to pause and think about what I’d been “giving back” to the wider community, hence being on the lookout for something, other than giving blood and now plasma and supporting our local PMI Sub Chapter.
So it was a timely convergence of something I like (Motorsport), a brilliant facility (Highlands) and an event that cannot go ahead without about 70 volunteers (Australian GT) racing.
I know that some people will be thinking that there are more worthy causes to volunteer for and indeed someone said they could not believe that marshals do not get paid considering there is millions of dollars of cars and international drivers and some folks with a few bob involved. My thoughts is that these events bring a lot of joy to a lot of people that watch and also compete. If it wasn’t for the volunteers the event could not happen. As for being paid, the experience of being there, meeting great people I would not have done so otherwise, contributing in some way to a team effort is enough for me.
I responded to the person who couldn’t believe we don’t get paid with if you go to any major event, there is organisations volunteering to get people seated, park the cars, first aid, fire response and so on. Standing next to a race track in the wind, rain, baking heat, noise for hours to me is something I look forward to. Especially as rock snot / didimo wrecked my favourite fishing spots.
If it wasn’t for volunteers, society would really struggle in many areas. There are so many people doing good things. Thank you to you all. Happy volunteer day (5 December).
To see what is coming up at Highlands: https://highlands.co.nz/events/
To register to volunteer at Highlands click here: Highlands Master Volunteer List
If you’d like to learn more about mashalling: A Life in Orange