Volunteers make the Tim Hortons Brier go
by Joe Pavia
Jean-Michel Menard and Team Quebec at the Brier. (Errol McGihon/Ottawa Sun)
They come from near and far.
All major curling events run on volunteer power. This Brier is no different. About 550 people toil to pull off the event. But amazingly 110 of them don’t even live anywhere close to the capital.
Lisa Gamble resides in Vancouver. She’s in Ottawa for the entire event until she flies back on Monday.
“This is the event I look forward to all year,” she said.
Gamble has worked in accreditation and event services for three Briers
“That really makes it easy. I’m a veteran,” Gamble said.
She has done the same job in Calgary, Kamloops and now Ottawa. She used her husband’s points for her flights and accommodation.
Gamble doesn’t know anyone in Ottawa but “I enjoy meeting all the people, being able to see the players and being able to see the games up close.” She doesn’t do any other volunteer work because she curls lots.
Seeing the players is a thrill for her.
“It’s great, you know, just to be close to them. I have some stories but I have to keep them to myself,” Gamble said.
John and Noreen Wills are marathoners when it comes down to the Brier.
They have volunteered at 10 Briers and Scotties. Like all out-of-town people, they pay their own expenses and as Noreen pointed out “You have to pay $100 on top of that to volunteer.”
All volunteers pay for their uniforms.
The Pickering couple are now retired.
“We do it because it absolutely passes the time in the winter. The best thing is meeting people. It’s a holiday for us,” says John.
Adds Noreen “You meet all kinds of people and you get to know the towns. We are getting to know the Glebe in Ottawa, it’s a wonderful place.”
Jut a awhile ago, they donated their 26 event jackets to the club’s junior program. They have already put their names in to volunteer at the St. John’s Brier.
It’s her first Brier but by the twinkle in her eyes it won’t be her last.
Anna Cromwell, meanwhile, is from Yarmouth County, N.S.
“I guess we wanted to come to the Brier to help out in some way,” she said.
Her husband is with her but just enjoying the games.
Like many she’s here for the duration and having a blast. She volunteers in the Patch, bussing tables. The couple has also been exploring the town.
“We liked pretty much everything we’ve seen I guess. We’ve been to Parliament Hill, we’ve been to the shopping centers, the Ottawa Curling Club, we got to speak to Rachel Homan and get some autographs for my granddaughter.”
Many of the hundreds of local volunteers are coming in from far-flung reaches of the Ottawa Valley like Kemptville, Russell, Metcalfe etc. Not one of them has ever complained about expenses within earshot of this columnist. They are glad be a part of the Brier experience.
Maybe, just maybe, they will all be back for the Roar of the Rings.
Highlight of the Brier
The reception given to Craig Savill on Thursday evening was unlike anything witnessed in curling or any sport. It speaks to the true spirit of the game, where we all cheer for the good shots no matter who makes them.
This will always be Craig Savill’s Brier.
The Hogline Little Rock championships will take place Saturday at 5:30 p.m., on Brier ice prior to the semifinal game. Who didn’t get any sleep Friday night anticipating this?
The two skips in the last Little Rock championships held on Ottawa Brier ice in 2001 were Homan and Emma Miskew. The latter won.
That the Brier ends Sunday. What will we all do with ourselves?
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