Volunteers Week: Deep and Varied Involvement
This week is National Volunteers Week. Each year, we celebrate Motorsport UK’s vibrant volunteer community which is made up of over 30,000 people across the UK, who come together to create the backbone of the sport every week, organising thousands of events each season.
We’ll be profiling the stories of some of our most passionate volunteers as we explore their journey into volunteering – and how you can do the same.
For Sophia Bi and Laura Christmas, volunteering within the world of motorsport has led to a deep and varied involvement across highly significant areas of the sport.
Sophia started marshalling in 2017 at the age of 21, joining the British Motorsports Marshals Club, and has now been a motorsport marshal for nearly six years. Laura started volunteering last year as a Safeguarding Officer.
Both share a passion for the sport and a desire to contribute their skills and experience across two very different but critically important volunteering roles.
“I think the love for motorsport came naturally for me from a very young age, I was so influenced and so invested in watching the races at the weekend with my brother,” recalls Sophia. “I wanted to get closer to the action, so I thought I’d try a taster day at Oulton Park. I love marshalling for so many reasons, the competitiveness, the atmosphere, the teamwork but most importantly it’s my form of escapism.”
She then elaborated on her desire to be on the ground in the sport, “I wanted a different perspective on what it would be like to actually be hands-on and involved in all the motorsport action instead of usually watching it behind a TV screen. I wanted a new hobby, and this seemed the best way to go.”
Sophia marshalling at Yas Marina Circuit
For Laura, it was a desire to promote women in motorsport which led her to become involved in the sport as a volunteer. “I wanted to get involved with promoting women’s involvement in motorsport,” she commented, “and the Motorsport UK Women in Motorsport Sub Committee has provided me with a platform to give a voice to those participating at a grassroots level so support can be given at the club level to make a difference.”
When asked what was the most memorable moment of her volunteering career, Sophia recalled, “By far, marshalling the Abu Dhabi GP for the very first-time last year was an incredible experience from start to finish. I made some incredible friends it was an unforgettable experience you can’t take back and felt personally I learnt a lot. I feel very grateful to have been given the opportunity to experience the race weekend atmosphere in Abu Dhabi as a marshal.”
Both Sophia and Laura come from very different backgrounds. “My life at the moment ironically revolves around motorsport,” said Sophie. “I work at Sky Sports F1 as a Creative Production Co-Ordinator; I sit on the Racial Diversity Sub Committee at Motorsport UK and then on the weekends I’m often found marshalling in my spare time.”
For Laura, day-to-day life is very different but equally rewarding, “I am a full-time primary school teacher and play netball when not participating in motorsport events,” she expressed.
Laura participating at an event as part of a grassroots initiative to encourage more women into motorsport
What unites both Sophia and Laura’s stories is that volunteering is at its heart about being part of a wider community. “Volunteering in motorsport is rewarding. The motorsport world is very sociable. Everyone is welcoming and friendly,” commented Laura.
Sophia expanded and concluded, “It’s a fun hobby and it’s the best way to make new friends and get the best seat in the house to watch all the action and take part. All volunteers and officials become like family, and you’d be surprised to see a lot of female marshals at race meetings too. You never know unless you try it, it does eventually become quite addictive.”
Find out how you can volunteer in motorsport. Click here for more information.