Within four weeks of being at uni I threw myself at the chance to hitchhike to Barcelona as part of Race2: I found a teammate, got a team name and signed up. Why this decision was made, I do not know but it happened and since then I’ve never looked back.We came close to last on the Race but that didn’t stop us having an amazing time. We met soldiers, nuns, St Andrews alumni, teachers, loads of fellow students and a dog called Rex. On top of that, we got to party it up in Spain, see the sights and feel good because it was all in the name of charity. When I got back to the Bubble I told everyone my stories, collected my sponsorship but then just settled back into first year life and didn’t really give the Race much more thought.
It wasn’t until Freshers’ Week of my second year, and a trip to Toastie Bar, that the race popped back into my life. On a chance encounter, I ended up sitting next to the Coordinator of Race2 Barcelona. While we waited on the toastie bingo to call in our favour, she (admittedly rather drunkenly) talked me through the application system for the Race2 committee and made me aware of just how easy it was to get involved with the Charities Campaign. She told me that there were officer positions available within Race2 and that the EGM was the following week. I really wasn’t sure.
The day of the EGM came and as someone who had never met the Charities Campaign’s committee before, let alone given a speech in front of them I was very doubtful as to whether I was going to go for it. But I did. It didn’t warrant any of the stress: it was chilled and there was a beautiful amount of free wine. I did my bit, got asked some questions and then was elected as Jailbreak Officer 2012/13. Over the next year, I helped organise Race2 Prague with that year’s coordinator and ran a 36 hour hitchhike that allowed people to try and get as far out of St Andrews as possible (the winners got to Salzburg) – two crazy opportunities that I hadn’t even been aware of before that chance encounter, waiting for a toastie on a Friday night in the middle of September.
Looking back, that all seems so long ago. I was trusted with running Race2 Berlin last year – raising a fab £38,000 (well done racers!) and I was lucky enough to be elected at the end of last year as the Charities Convenor (or SSC Charities Officer, if you’re being fancy) and so I am currently overseeing the charitable effort at the union so alongside the wonderful executive committee and officers of the Charities Campaign I get to play with RAG, Race2 (again), Big Top Ball, Sky Dives, Bake Sales etc. etc. etc. It’s amazing.
When I was asked to write this, one of the questions was why are you still involved with the union? In response, I have met some of my best friends through the crazy things that I have done in charities; it has opened the door to an unbelievable number of opportunities and in all honesty, I would miss it far too much if I left.
Written by Kyle Blain - SSC Charitites Officer