Royal Air Force nurse corporal Abigail Sannow has spent years trying to get a pair of tickets to Wimbledon for herself and her father, Mohammed Sanno, an avid tennis fan like her daughter. rice field. However, the effort was in vain. So she found another way for Sanno to enter the venue with the best view of Center Court during all 14 days of Wimbledon.
She applied and was accepted as a service steward, part of a program in which 477 members of three British military branches serve as stewards, or what Americans call ushers, at the world’s most famous tennis tournament. .
“My father got a ticket so he could see me working here,” Sanno said last week. “It was such a thrill for both of us.”
Since 1946, when soldiers demobilized from World War II were first given that duty, non-commissioned officers (mainly corporals and sergeants) have been stationed at many entrances to Center Court and each section of Court 1 and are helpful. I have been strictly ordered to speak. Look smart in a crisp uniform. This is one of the features that makes Wimbledon a special event, and on a few outer courts he has 250 firefighters serving as stewards.
Their only weapons are their unnerving charm and polite enthusiasm to help both fans and fellow stewards. There are no growling dogs, bulletproof vests, boots, camouflage or other intimidating attire commonly found at major sporting events. These sailors, soldiers and cadets are working but technically not active duty.
“We’re here to make people happy,” said James Brooks as he stepped inside to take his place shortly after taking a picture for two fans in front of Center Court. rice field.
Brooks, who has taken three tours in Afghanistan and has worked around the world, is one of the most prominent stewards and perhaps the closest to the police. During substitutions, he and the other Service Stewards will stand firm and alert on the court, turn to the stands, and block intruders on the court.
Beside him on Friday was Miriam Charlton, who has spent 37 years in the Navy. She began her work at a difficult time for female military personnel. They were seldom considered to have children and were sometimes transferred from base to base until they quit. After giving birth to her two children, she was sent to Falklands for six months in 1994-1995, where she was only allowed one phone call per week for three minutes.
Although she remained attached to the military, her attitude changed drastically and she was asked to form a small Parent Support Corps to support her Navy parents. Charlton said she had 52% when she started the program seven years ago, but now more than 90% of women in the Navy keep their children after they have children. She was honored with an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by Princess Anne for her work.
It’s nice to be honored like this, but will we ever get to see Wimbledon up close on Center Court for 14 days in a row?
“It doesn’t get any better,” she said. “It’s one of the best moments of my career.”
About 1,000 military personnel apply for coveted positions each year, and 40% of our stewards are new hires each year.
“I don’t want to be in a club where people feel like they’ll never get that chance,” said the lieutenant. Mr. Chris Boucher, the officer in charge of all stewards. “Nobody has a special right to be here.”
There are no divisions at Wimbledon, said Boucher. Boucher says his job in the Navy is to mobilize personnel for everything from the Queen’s funeral to tactical operations around the world. Stewards address each other by their first names in an informal, collegial and respectful atmosphere, in all but a few instances over the years.
“There are no ranks unless there is a need,” he said.
Other military officers, especially prominent on television, are three who are stationed in the Royal Box, which is run entirely by the military officer. They are all perfectly dressed as if they had come for an examination. No, but I rarely see anyone with a bright white, blue, or khaki shirt with spaghetti sauce or coffee stains on it.
“Millions of eyes are on you,” Boucher said. “Don’t be that person.”
Royal Air Force Police Corporal Katie Patterson was stationed on court 1 at Gangway 6 on Sunday, helping spectators find seats and politely asking fans yelling in the corridors to ‘quiet down a little bit’. . Audiences love to ask about her RAF duties and request photos of her.
One little girl was particularly enthralled, so much so that Patterson handed her her class slide (a rank badge on her shoulder), and she was overjoyed. When popular TV and radio personality Nick Grimshaw was in line for Gangway 6, Patterson also had the opportunity to go crazy. They chatted for a few minutes, and like many fans, he wanted to know more about her life on the air. Power.
Navy’s George Finn Carr worked with Patterson on Gangway 6 as one of many military partnerships to be forged during the tournament. The pair take turns taking turns, one helping people in line at the bottom of the stairs, the other at the top of the stairs ushering fans to their seats and then observing the action. . You also need to be able to handle lost or unruly fans, or situations that require your attention.
A big tennis fan, Kerr immigrated from Ghana 14 years ago and joined the Navy after becoming a British citizen. Much of his time at Wimbledon is spent taking pictures in his white and navy uniform and hat and answering questions about all his deployments, including Crete, Guam, Kenya and the mainland United States. there is
“Being on a ship is like being on a metal container at sea, it has to be a team,” Carr said. “It’s the same here at Wimbledon.”
As Carr spoke, an army sergeant from another aisle announced that “two men” were jumping over the row of seats. He obviously didn’t have a ticket. Carr immediately left to investigate.
In order to join this elite force, the stewards must use their leave of absence, which consumes two weeks of vacation. But his one of the rewards comes when an announcement is made on the first Saturday of the tournament each year to recognize their contributions. Fans stand up and applaud to show their appreciation.
“It’s an honor to be here, even though we’re on the job,” said Army Staff Sergeant Suen Simpson, who declined to give a location. But this past two weeks, she’s been stationed on her No. 1 court at Gangway 22, one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
“I am lucky to have been chosen,” she said.