Our volunteers – the unsung heroes

Volunteers play an instrumental part in the successful running of Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials and their contribution often goes unnoticed by the general public. However, they form an integral part of the event’s ‘behind the scenes’ team and the organisers cannot thank them enough.

Blair’s volunteers give up their time without complaint and represent the truly diverse nature of the sport, with many hailing from various parts of Europe to support the competition. We met up with a few of them:

Bogdan and Alexandra Lungu (ROU)

Bogdan is a self employed small business owner from Romania and chose to volunteer with his friend Nicu Lordache and their 12-year-old daughters Alexandra and Luana.

“I’ve done some voluntary work in Belgium and Holland in the past but came here mainly because my daughter Alexandra enjoys horses and I thought it would be a great experience,” said Bogdan, who is supporting the event with photography – you will notice credits on several of the news story posts over the next few days.

“I would encourage anyone to volunteer here,” he said. “Everyone is so kind and helpful and it’s a really lovely place to be.”

“It’s nice to be able to help people,” added Alexandra. “I’ve been helping out with the flowers in the arenas and on the fences which has been really fun to do. It’s nice work and everything here is so beautiful.

“I think it’s really cool to be a volunteer,” she added. “We’ve made lots of friends already and I’d love to come back again.”

Nicu and Luana Iordache (ROU)

“I have a lot of experience of volunteering,” said Nicu, a Physician by trade in his native Romania who is helping out in the Information Office. “I wanted to get my daughter involved in voluntary work. She likes horses so this seemed the perfect opportunity. There are no competitions of this scale in Romania and I’ve been amazed by how big the site is. It’s much colder here than it is in Romania in August though!”

“I like it here a lot,” confirmed Luana, “I’m very jealous of the people riding here – I’d love to do that one day. It’s so great to see all the horses and I’ve really enjoyed helping with the flowers and setting up the arenas.”

Petra Veres (HUN)

20-year-old Petra is the Hungarian Co-ordinator for Service Civil International, an international non-governmental voluntary organisation. She is volunteering at Blair ahead of starting a degree in International Development at the University of Sussex in September.

“I’ve loved horses since I was a child but I’ve never been to a horse trials before,” she admitted. “I know the UK is one of the best places in the world for this sport so I thought, why not? It’s also a great opportunity to practice my English before I start university.

“I will be working in the Trade Stand area I think and my role will be really varied. I like being useful and it’s very interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes at a big event like this.”

Filippo Casamassima (ITA)

“I was 18 five days ago and my Dad paid for me to come here as part of my birthday present,” said Filippo, a student who hails from southern Italy.

“I’ve not volunteered before but I know a lot of people who have and they suggested I give it a go. I love travelling and Scotland is a new place for me – this is the first time I’ve travelled outside of Italy by myself and I’m having a great time.

“Filippo means ‘horse friend’ but I don’t know that much about them if I’m honest. I’m doing lots of general jobs here and the experience is really great.”

Liza Kokalj (SVN)

Liza is another 18-year-old enjoying her first visit to Scotland. From Slovenia, Liza is volunteering at Blair as a stepping stone to hopefully securing a longer term voluntary role in Asia or Africa in a couple of years’ time.

“My Mum used to volunteer when she was a student and she found this opportunity online and encouraged me to give it a go,” she explained.

“I wasn’t sure how I’d fit in as a fairly young, international student but everyone has been so lovely and I’ve already made some friends. The weather has been a bit of a shock as it’s much colder than back at home but I’m enjoying being in Scotland.

“In terms of my role at Blair, I’ve been helping to build the fence around the main arena and from tomorrow I think I’m helping out with the trade stands. I’m not quite sure what that involves but I’m sure I’ll soon find out! We’ve been really well looked after and I’ve found it very satisfying to be part of making such a big event happen.”

Marta and Julia Dalmou (ESP)

21-year-old Marta and 18-year-old Julia are sisters from a small village just outside Barcelona in Spain.

“The event is bigger than our entire village which was a bit of a shock,” laughed Julia. “This is a completely new experience for us and we found out about the opportunity on the Service Civil International website. For us it’s a great opportunity to practice our English, as we don’t get many opportunities to do that at home, as well as an opportunity to learn new things.”

“I would encourage anyone to volunteer at an event like this,” added Marta. “It’s great work experience and a chance to travel, learn about the sport and meet new people. We’ve been looked after really well and have met lots of other volunteers – there’s so much going on.”

Photo © Bogdan Lungu