Friday 26 August 2022

Driver 308’s Commonwealth Games Adventure

Part 2 - The journey begins

Let's have a look at that happened after that lovely drive along Bournmonth Promenade

Day 2 - Tuesday the 5th July

Day 2 was a scheduled R&R (Rest and Relocate) day. So bit of a lie in, leisurely breakfast, bacon, sausages, hash browns, beans and mushrooms. Followed by toast and Marmite. I am travelling with my own 500g jar of Marmite in case the hotels do not provide it!

Although this is a rest day I am driving one of the Mercedes Sprinter Luton vans to the next hotel which is at Cookham near Maidenhead. Left Swindon hotel around 12 noon with Tiana (one of the chaperones) as passenger and arrived at Cookham by 13:30. Hotel is in very nice setting close to the river Thames. After unloading the two Luton vans myself and 3 of the hosts decided to have a 5-minute walk down to the village to get a late lunch. Fish and Chips all round and very nice it was too.

In the evening we had a team meal, which was very nice, as it was Chicken and Fish (which I don’t eat) or cheese pizza (which I have to avoid as much as possible as it gives me migraine) the chef cooked me a vegetable pasta dish.

I’ve attached some photos of the hotel and the fish ponds.

Hotel Reflections
The hotels we’ve been staying have been quite varied, but all OK really. But there are oddities with every hotel……….
In Exeter my room was 227 so on the second floor which was below the reception on the third floor, that was always confusing when using the lift or stairs! It had stunning views from the 8th floor bar and terrace though.

The hotel in Plymouth was very good, nothing odd about it at all. However the next hotel in Swindon was something else entirely. It wasn’t actually in Swindon at all, nearer to Marlborough in open countryside. Mid-afternoon it suffered a complete power failure and they thought the hotel would have to be closed which should have been a major problem for the relay finding rooms for 80 crew at very short notice. Luckily the power was restored around 7pm and they were they able to provide hot food. I could not get the hang of the layout at all it was totally baffling. I had room 177 on the ground floor which was the very last room on a corridor that made a square. So the room at the end, mine, was actually very close to the point where the first room was, but there was no linking corridor. To get from reception, restaurant or bar I had to walk the whole length of the corridor past the other 176 rooms!

The next hotel would have been the Holiday Inn in Guildford, but there was a shortage of rooms so Trevor and myself were sent to a Holiday Inn in Woking a 20-minute drive away. It was gone 23:30 when we arrived, we parked the minibus outside under the reception canopy as it was too high to go in the underground parking! When we got in our room it had one bed, so we had to wait while the housekeeper produced a second bed. However, by  00:30 we able to get to bed. We were up at 05:30 to get back to Guildford for breakfast at 06:30.

I was offered the choice between sharing a room in the main hotel or having a single room in the overflow hotel, which meant an extra 15-minute drive each way – so I choose the single room option. The Briudgewood Manor Hotel was very nice as was the main hotel the Holiday Inn at Tonbridge.

The next nights hotel was Dunston Hall near Norwich this is very impressive. Very nice buildings beautiful setting too and very nice choice of evening meal in the outdoor marquee. Weston Manor in Northampton was another one that was an absolute maze, first hotel I’ve ever stayed in (and I stayed in a lot hotels abroad when I was working) where room 413 was on the ground floor in a totally different part to the rooms in the 100 range. There is a video of the route from my room to the breakfast room.

The Olde Barnes and Travel Lodge at Grantham were very straightforward in comparison.

Having to move hotel every day means you have to be very organised with the unpacking and packing, keeping your crew bag tidy, only taking out what you need immediately and keeping everything else packed. A set routine is important as is having a system for checking nothing is left behind; phone chargers, USB leads and sponge bags being the most common things to go missing.

<End of Day 2 and Hotel Reflections. More to follow shortly>

Friday 19 August 2022

Driver 308’s Commonwealth Games Adventure

Part 2 - The Journey Begins

Having been properly kitted out, picked up a wheel chair adapted mini bus, had proper induction and training and met the hosts, Driver 308 is ready for his epic journey. Let's have a look at what's shared by Driver 308 himself:

Day 1 - Monday July 4th

Up bright and early, packed my luggage and bags, dropped my luggage off in the TSO (Tour Services Office), all crew luggage is loaded on a Luton van and driven to the next hotel (Swindon) as there's not room in the minibuses for it.

I was given the keys to the minibus at 8:00, as soon as I finished breakfast I went to check it out, the W/C lift  couldn’t be used because the minibus had all its seats in and they couldn’t be removed. So it was swapped with the other Police minibus which had a W/C ramp and the necessary seats removed. The Polie had to move all their gear to the other minibus. Once I was able to look at the replacement I saw it had no straps to secure a wheelchair. It was now gone 9am, so a quick trip to B&Q to purchase 2 rachet tiedowns, got back sorted ourselves out and left at 09:57, phew.

After a stop top refuel the minibus, a Citroen Relay, a pitstop and traffic jams in Weymouth we arrived at 12:56, exactly on schedule!

Sarah and I on our way

Never seen anything like this before a boat storage cupboard at Portland Marina, Weymouth.
After doing our baton bearer duties we headed to Bournemouth. We had to pickup any baton bearers who needed a lift, none did, but we had a nice drive along Bournemouth beach promenade. 

 <End of Day 1. Day 2 to follow shortly>

Friday 12 August 2022

Driver 308’s Commonwealth Games Adventure

Part 1. Prepping for the epic journey.

Weeks before the start of the QBR, Driver 308 was briefed with various information needed for the job. Let’s have a peep of what he’s up to.

1.    Driving rota:

Here is what he’s driving tasks are. You can see that there are thousands miles to cover.

Or you may like to see the routes on maps:

MK to Portsmouth:

Portsmouth to Bury St Edmunds

Bury St Edmunds to MK

For an interactive route map you might want to look here:


2.   Looking the part.  No epic journey is truly epic without looking the part. So, Driver 308 was kitted out with the proper gears top to toe. Let’s have a look at Driver 308’s secret agent look:

Satisfied with the look, Driver 308 then went on a very important mission to pick up his shuttlebus. But wait, the bus also has to look the part!

I’m very pleased to share that Driver 308 has been able to share some of his experience by email. Below are some direct quotes shared by the man himself.

Let’s have a look at what happened for the first 3 days of the mission:

“The first 3 days are the training etc.


Everyone on the Baton Relay has a crew number – mine is 308 and I am the Chaperone shuttle bus driver. The relay provides chaperones for all vulnerable adult and under 18 baton bearers. So my role would be to drive the chaperones to wherever they were needed, quite a challenging role as it would be necessary some days to cover the whole convoy route.


Saturday 2nd July


Spent all day convoy operation training and how to use the printed day book. There is one A4 size printed day book per day containing 60 to 100 pages depending on the requirements of the day. In the afternoon I had to take the silver Transit I was driving to have its vinyl branding wrap applied. - the minibus looked really good afterwards.”

This is how the bus looked before:

This is how it looked after a professional make-over:

You can see all sorts of vehicles have put them forward to be in the limelight:

The next part is shared by Driver 308 without any alteration.

Sunday 3rd July.

Today we had to check out of the hotel, the Marriott Sandy Park which was very nice and next to the Exeter Chiefs Rugby ground. Here is the totem inside the clubhouse where we did our training.

First we all drove to the Wyvern Barracks, which is an Army Depot with its own private road network so we could drive around practicing convoy procedures, learning how drop off and pick up baton bearers.  See Day 3 Relay training.MOV showing the Media vehicle filming one of the crew being a baton bearer, not baton bearers have a special shirt with pink arms, crew have grey polo shirts with white sleeves.

Team briefing at the Barracks outside the team security coach which carries the Police team assigned to the relay. It wasn’t that warm, many people are wearing their uniform jackets. You can also see the medic who followed behind the security coach in a short wheelbase Land Rover Defender.

For lunch there were shop sandwiches, but I had a very tasty bacon butty that I’d made at breakfast in the hotel with freshly cooked bloomer bread. It was a very shrewd move.

After lunch we all drove from Exeter to Plymouth, the Future Inn. I had a minor navigational issue as my satnav couldn’t get me across a specific junction so I went around the houses a bit.

When I arrived in Plymouth I discovered that my role had changed, I was now to drive a wheelchair adapted minibus, as the company providing the shuttle buses couldn’t supply enough, luckily there was a suitable WAV minibus being used by the police so I was allocated that.

Each shuttle bus has a driver and a baton bearer host. I was in Team C with Alison, and would be paired with her for the duration of the relay. Hosts and drivers work 4 days and then have a rest day. Alison’s rest day was tomorrow so Sarah was her replacement for Monday 4th July Day 1 of the QBR.. Sarah and I spent the evening planning our routes and departure time from the hotel. We had to be in Weymouth for 12:56 so decided we must leave by 10:00 at the latest – allowing for traffic and pitstop en-route.

And so I went to bed, I was sharing a room with Trevor T a driver that I knew from the 2014 QBR in Scotland.

Next day to follow soon.

<The journey continues, stay tuned for Part 2 – The Journey Begins>

Friday 5 August 2022

Driver 308’s Commonwealth Games Adventure


Norman, our dedicated and much loved long-term volunteer, has a passion for driving, aside from his passion for volunteering.

Prior to volunteering with Camphill Milton Keynes, Norman already had extensive volunteering experiences alongside his busy professional life. Starting from 1979 with St John's Ambulance, to the London 2012 Olympics and the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in 2014, Norman found volunteering so rewarding that he decided to resign from his well-paid job as an IT professional, in order to focus on his voluntary work. Since 2015, Norman has volunteered with various charities - Papworth Trust as an IT volunteer, driving for MK IF festivals, food sorter and van driver for MK Food Bank and many many more.

At Camphill, Norman helps us in many different ways. When he’s not busy fixing the weaving looms, spinning wheels or fashioning knitting looms in our Weavery, he’d be busy dropping off and picking up our residents to and from their work placement venues outside our community. In between the errands, he’d be taking residents out on day trips, nature walks, ecological or local history lessons, acting both as our mini bus driver and local knowledge expert.

Norman’s consistent presence has made himself very popular among our residents and staff and an integral part of our community.  

As mentioned earlier, Norman volunteered as driver for the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in 2014 as a mini bus driver. This is how Norman looked then: 

This year, Norman was offered a position to drive a minibus for the Queen Barton Relay of the Commonwealth Games.

Norman is assigned the number 308, therefore this series is called Driver 308’s Commonwealth Games Adventure.

The Queen Barton Relay will traverse many cities and towns of England and cover thousands of miles, passing many places familiar to our residents and staff members. Driver 308 is hoping to share his driving experiences and connect with folks at home at Camphill. He has a plan to share photos and video footages caught on his dashcam with members of our community, while manoeuvring through his busy driving schedule. My fellow workshop member Lucie P and others will help me to write and publish on my Blog Norman’s stories and photos. Hope you enjoy reading this.