Hebridean Celtic Music Festival 2012
This year I volunteered at the Hebridean Music Festival in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. I volunteered last year and had such a great time that I chose to come back to do it all again. This year the festival had around 120 volunteers who did everything from sell the tickets to building the stages. Many volunteers are from the UK but a good number also travel from abroad specifically to volunteer at the festival and return year after year for the fun and to catch up with friends made in previous years. Some volunteers were already on holidays travelling the UK and heard about the festival so decided to come and help. I met people from New Zealand, Austria, Sweden, Germany and Ireland.
Despite having been the previous year, I still managed to have new and exciting experiences. This year I was not able to stay in my friend’s flat so I stayed in the hostel. By coincidence, I was staying in the same room as a German friend I had made the year before! There were also two other German volunteers and other festival attendees in our bunk room. I volunteered on the Friday and Saturday nights from 6.30pm to around midnight. I had originally planned on volunteering the Thursday night too but I did not find out until short notice that I could not stay at my friends flat so was unsure if I would make the festival at all. Luckily for me, at short notice, someone cancelled their stay at the hostel and I was able to travel to Lewis on the Thursday, arriving in the evening and staying for 4 nights in the hostel. The ferry crossing allowed for some stunning views. Last year I had flown to the island so this year it was an entirely different viewpoint I had when arriving at the island. My volunteer role was as a steward and as such I was responsible for ensuring the fire exits in the two tents (where bands played) were kept clear and I also made sure people didn’t smoke in the tents. It wasn’t too much work though as all the festival goers mostly stick by the rules anyway! The most tiring thing was standing for a while, especially between bands when there was no music to listen and bob around to. This was not so bad though as we got a break and also changed locations occasionally to give our legs a stretch.
Whilst on the island I had a morning surf lesson and then used the board for the rest of the day. I won’t deny it wasn’t cold but once in the water and having fun I soon forgot about this. Although I didn’t quite get the hang of standing I had a great day! My lesson even led on to an invitation by a lifeboat crew member to go out in the lifeboat the next morning. This was brilliant as I have always wanted to do this but thankfully never had the need to be rescued yet! I also learnt about an amazing swim that had been completed earlier in the year to raise money for the RNLI. A team of eight swimmers swam the Minch (around 45 miles between Ullapool and Stornoway) for the first time ever and raised over £18000 for the RNLI! It was inspiring! I didn’t manage to fit in the traditional annual inter island shinty match or attend any of the radio broadcasts so these will be my aims for my spare time in a future year, as well as trying sea kayaking.
The weather on Lewis was amazing considering most of the rest of the UK had suffered weeks of rain. Stornoway was almost suffering a drought! I had a fantastic few days listening to some great music, meeting new friends and trying new things. As was the case last year, the volunteers were treated very well and I intend to return again. In fact, I may even consider working on the island in the future, something which I would never have thought about prior to visiting the island. Thanks for the bursary which helped contributed considerably to my accommodation and travel costs! J