Get Inspired: A Big Thank You to sport volunteers

graphic with Eddie Izzard and a mega phone with #Big Thank You in a pink voice bubble

The sport we love relies on volunteers who give their time freely, for no reward beyond our thanks.

That's why Get Inspired and Join In, the London 2012 legacy charity for sport volunteering, have teamed up to launch the Big Thank You.

Subs-collectors and Clyde-siders, tea-makers and Tour Makers, referees and Ryder Cup volunteers - these and thousands more like them have helped make sport happen in 2014.

And you can show your appreciation for them on the biggest night in the UK sporting calendar, BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

What is the Big Thank You?

The Big Thank You will reach its highlight on Sunday 14 December, when the 2014 Sports Personality of the Year ceremony takes place at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.

The night will involve big surprises, inspiring volunteers and a host of sporting stars whose careers began with help from volunteers.

Graphic with David Moorcroft thanking volunteers

Comedian, multi-marathoner and Join In patron Eddie Izzard will be on the red carpet before the show, asking famous sportsmen and sportswomen to phone volunteers and say thank you.

During the show, in front of an audience including 500 Clyde-siders and Ryder Cup volunteers, Eddie will present the 2014 Get Inspired Unsung Hero award to one exceptional local volunteer.

How can I help spread the Big Thank You?

Use the #BigThankYouexternal-link hashtag to tweet the volunteer or volunteers you want to thank. Mention their club or event too if you can!

Hit the red button from 1800 GMT on 14 December to see Eddie Izzard on the Sports Personality red carpet.

Watch BBC One from 2000 GMT to see 2014's Get Inspired Unsung Hero named.

Can I get into volunteering?

If you feel inspired by the Big Thank You volunteers and wonder whether you have the time or knowledge for local sport volunteering, then good news - you do!

You can give a couple of hours whenever you're needed or commit to regular sessions. You can be a keen first-timer or experienced helper. You can bring specialist skills or just muck in.

Seven out of 10 local sport clubs and groups in the UK say they need more volunteers, so there will be clubs in your area looking for help.

And since every volunteer creates the capacity for 8.5 more participants, whatever help you can give will make a real difference.

Why is volunteering good?

But it won't just be the club that feels the difference your volunteering will make - you'll make a difference to yourself and your community.

People who volunteer in sport have higher self-esteem, emotional wellbeing and resilience than those who don't volunteer, according to research by Join In. They are also more likely to feel proud of themselves, that what they do is important, and are less likely to worry.

More sport volunteers than non-volunteers report feel that they put time and effort into their communities. As a result, more feel good about being a part of their communities, that they have influence in them and are more trusting of those around them.

How can I get into volunteering?

You can start by searching sport volunteering opportunities on the Join In website, where thousands of local clubs post the roles they have available. You can filter the results by sport and by skill to help you find an opportunity that really interests you.

Sport England,external-linkSport Scotland,external-linkSport Walesexternal-link and Athletics Northern Irelandexternal-link also have volunteering pages to help you get into volunteering where you live.

If a regular commitment doesn't work for you, maybe you'd like to volunteer at a large sporting event. They rely on hundreds of people like you volunteering their time and skills.

In 2015, the UK hosts the Euro Hockey Championships in London, the Rugby World Cup around England and in Cardiff, the Cerebral Palsy World Games in Nottingham, the IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow, plus many more besides.

Lots of bigger events at grassroots level need volunteers too. Why not marshal at a charity bike ride, help out with car parking at a triathlon, or hand out water to runners in a 10K race in your area. Remember - your community needs you!

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