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Over 800 volunteers sign-up for World Transplant Games in Gateshead

Over 800 volunteers, known as 'Team 19' have signed-up to support the World Transplant Games this summer to help spread the word about organ donation.

Team 19 members will cover a variety of roles during the Games including; arrival welcomes for the athletes, liaison with hotels, assistance at the sporting venues and generally help to provide a great Games experience.

A wide variety of people have signed-up to be part of Team 19, from those that have volunteered at past events such as the Great Exhibition of the North and the recent European Rugby Finals, to those that have personal connections with transplantation and organ donation. 

One of the volunteers with a personal connection to organ donation is Kaylee Ann Davidson-Olley who is Britain’s longest surviving heart transplant patient having received a new heart at the Freeman Hospital aged just five months old. She said: “We are excited to be welcoming transplant athletes from all over the world to the North East. As a former team GB athlete who has travelled the world with the World Transplant Games, I know that volunteers are the lifeblood of the event.

“I am volunteering and can't wait to work alongside the other amazing volunteers on this inspiring event – I know that we will all have a great time and enjoy every minute.”

Gateshead Council is managing the World Transplant Games volunteer programme. Cabinet member for Communities and Volunteering, Councillor Linda Green said: “Volunteers are at the very heart of the World Transplant Games. They play an integral role and give up a huge amount of their time and provide invaluable support. Without them this event would not be possible.

“Gateshead has always been extremely proud of its volunteers and the huge contribution they make to their local communities. To have a chance to play a part in this year’s Games and welcome competitors from across the world is a fantastic opportunity and demonstrates the passion our people have for the region and the event.”  

Several businesses in the region, and further afield, are supporting the volunteer programme with staff involved from companies such as HSBC UK, Barclays, Sage UK and Home Group. Food giant Greggs has also pledged its support for the Games by providing food vouchers for the volunteers.

Gordon Foster, HSBC UK North East Corporate Banking Centre Area Director, said, “We’re excited to welcome the games to the North East and showcase this fantastic region to the world. HSBC UK is proud to support such a great event; we have colleagues who have direct family experience of transplantation and appreciate the importance of raising awareness and understanding of this issue.”

Graham Moore, Chairman at Westfield Health, a lead sponsor of the Games said, “The World Transplant Games is a fantastic initiative which raises awareness of such an important cause. It showcases the importance of transplants and the inspirational stories of those who have received them.

“The success of the Games relies heavily on the good nature of volunteers, so it’s wonderful to see such a high volume of volunteers already signed up, and still with a few weeks to go until the Games.

“We hope this will continue year on year, thanks to the generous contributions of the many businesses already involved. We wish all participants the best of luck in the Games and want to extend special thanks to all the volunteers.”

Abi Bentley-Cottam
Article by Abi Bentley-Cottam
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