News Release

Behind the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

“This was a once in a lifetime experience to be part of a team of like-minded people, freely giving of their time and enjoying being part of the community,” reflects David Cook about his experiences serving as a volunteer for the Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham this past summer.

David is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and worked within a team of 14,000 other volunteers who were critical to the successful operation of the Games.

His role, experiences, and feelings along with other volunteers in the Games who are also members of the Church living in the greater Birmingham area are shared below.

David Cook, Coventry Stake (diocese)  

David was selected to assist in the interview process from September through December of 2021 to pare down over 40,000 applicants to the 24,000 who were eligible for an interview. After reviewing applications and a 30-minute interview, 14,000 individuals were finally selected to receive one of over three hundred roles as a volunteer. He later provided training for specific roles at the Games’ venues and looked after the welfare of the volunteers.

He says, “I interviewed amazing people, I served with amazing people. I worked with amazing people.”

David recalls that those applying for roles as volunteers often expressed the sentiment, “The Games are an opportunity for me to give something back to the city that has helped me so much and that I have enjoyed. It has meant so much to me.”

Paul Wilkinson, Coventry Stake

Paul Wilkinson was the team leader for the Tech team covering the scoring for the Badminton events. He says, “It was a really positive experience. There was a real spirit of comradeship and helpfulness amongst the volunteers and professional staff we were supporting. It also provided a ringside seat of the sport we were covering as a bonus.”

Sian Davies and Heather Smith, Coventry

Sian Davies worked with Paul Wilkinson as part of the Tech team. She was involved with typing the results of the event that appear live on the screen at the venue.

Heather Smith was a part of the Opening and Closing ceremonies at the Games. She also served as a stand-in for the Parade of Athletes rehearsals so that the timing would be sufficient and as a driver at the exhibition games for VIPs.

Alan Foster Birmingham Stake

“I have lived in the Midlands area, most of my life and proud to be from here. Having the Games in the area was a brilliant opportunity to show the world what a great place this is and all the history surrounding Birmingham. Meeting new people on the Great Britain team and those being accredited was a wonderful experience,” recounts Alan Foster.

Alan’s role as a volunteer was working prior to the Games in the accreditation team, making sure all those working were security checked and received access passes.

Umana Effiong Umana Birmingham Stake

Umana Effiong Umana served as deputy security manager at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre. When the security manager could not continue, he had the responsibility as the Venue Security Manager of keeping five thousand staff and spectators in the venue safe and secure. He recounts his best experiences as meeting then HRH Prince Charles, HRH Prince Edward, and other VIPs.

Umana was able to assist an accessible athlete and they discussed the years of training for a competition that was less than 5 minutes long. Umana recounts, “This taught me some great lessons on planning for success.” He adds, “I really appreciate my membership in the Church because it gave me a platform and opportunity to build a faith that saw me through the entire experience.”

Lorina Jones Birmingham Stake

Lorina Jones was assigned to the Protocol Team assisting domestic and international dignitaries, government officials and royals during their visits to both the competitions and non-competitive venues such as the Athlete Village and the University of Birmingham.

She reflects, “The best part was being part of the Commonwealth Collective. I met and talked with a number of diverse people and formed friendships with some.”

Darrell Mawle Birmingham Stake

Darrell recounts, “I was an International Federation Services Team member for the Judo and Wrestling events where I looked after members of the international federations and their requests. My favourite experience was being so close to the athletes and the field of play. I love judo and wanted to be part of an important worldwide event.”

Luke Bailey Birmingham Stake

“I helped manage the flow of people at the Festival sites in the Birmingham city centre,” says Luke Bailey. “It was a great and unique experience to see people celebrate the city in such a positive way.”

Rob Legge and Zoe Stanton Birmingham Stake

Rob Legge volunteered as a driver and Zoe Stanton was part of the flying squad volunteers who were able to help at any venue. “Everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful. The atmosphere in Birmingham was simply amazing,” remembers Zoe.

According to David Cook, there were over 6,000 athletes and officials at the Games. “We all agreed that this was a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience as the Games happen every 4 years and could occur in any Commonwealth country. It is unlikely that they will be in Birmingham again in my life.”

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