As a ‘Glasto’ newbie I arrived with some trepidation to set up camp on Wednesday, ahead of the festival going live on Friday. Clothing and footwear for all weather conditions (fearful of the deep mud that was the result of nonstop torrential rain the previous year) was de rigeur. We were treated to two hours of queuing in the hottest weather Glastonbury had seen for all of the 48 years that the festival had been staged. People were literally passing out and the bottles of water handed out by staff were much appreciated.
Registration completed, tents erected we were ready to explore. As part of the ‘deal’ for receiving a ticket SAT supplied 20 volunteers to work an early morning shift of 6 hours between 6am and 1200 picking up litter. It’s difficult to describe the physical size of the site. At a steady pace it can take 30 minutes to walk between each of the three main stages. The stages sit in a bowl, surrounded by a myriad of smaller stages, all linked by a truly international selection of food, drink and general merchandising units. In the far distant St Michael’s Tower sits impressively on the skyline atop Glastonbury Tor, adding to the magic of the surroundings.
Picking up the vast quantity of litter deposited by 200,000 festival goers intent on a good time is hard to imagine until you wake up at 530am and survey the debris across the whole festival site! For instance, the Pyramid Stage takes 300 volunteers three hours to pick up and bag the rubbish. We were working the smaller ‘John Peel’ stage, but it's still difficult to find a blade of grass amongst the rubbish. Like most jobs that potentially are unpleasant, switching the mind into neutral and engaging in banter with your fellow litter pickers soon makes the time pass, and at the end, if only for a few brief moments the satisfaction of a perfectly clean festival site made you feel all warm and fuzzy!
The atmosphere generated by 50,000 revellers, together with all the flags, costumes and general mayhem, was amazing. Television just doesn’t do any of it justice. Long days and little sleep takes it toll, especially for us old timers, but would I volunteer again? Absolutely. A great team of volunteers, working for a great cause to both raise money and have a good time. Play hard…work hard. Brilliant.
Peter Boon - Chief Operations Officer, Sebastian's Action Trust