A Huntingdon soldier has just completed his fifth stint as a volunteer service steward at this year’s Wimbledon tennis championships.
Corporal Rowan Boddington, a Guard Commander in the Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS) at Joint Force Command Wyton, was there to assist the public, members and guests.
Since 1946, the British Army has fulfilled the role and this year there were 335 coveted military positions, split evenly between the three armed services.
Rowan, aged 35, said: “We take two weeks’ leave, but that’s no great shakes because Wimbledon takes care of us. It’s just a pleasure to be there in your uniform. You’re in the capital in the middle of summer for two weeks of the year. It’s brilliant.
“There has to be 50 per cent of people who have done it before and 50 per cent of new people so there’s always a regular turnover. To have been picked five years in a row when there are only 50 per cent of previous participants, I must be doing something right. If they continue to pick me every year, I’ll be very happy and I will keep putting leave in.”
The service steward’s role at Wimbledon is to man the gangways and help visitors find their seats, make sure they are comfortable and to offer support to the other organisations. To the steward, however, interacting with the public is the most important part of the job.
Rowan’s team was one of eight that complement all the show courts, including Centre Court, Number One Court and Courts 2, 3, 12 and 13. The Royal Box on Centre Court requires 50 stewards to look after the members’ area and entrance, corridors and changing rooms.
“It’s a buzz all day, I work in the VIP and members’ area in Number One Court,” said Rowan, who originally joined 2nd Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment in 1999.
“We’ve got a lot of high-profile guests to look after, as well as the tennis all going on in front of you. It’s a buzz. I love it.
“You see a lot of celebrities. Half the time you’re just busy trying to get the people in and out and do the main function of your job, to get everyone to their seats and sat down and observe the club’s long list of rules. We’re very busy while we’re here. It’s not just having fun and watching tennis, we are really busy.”
Military Service Stewards who volunteer for the two weeks must be on leave, they must have their chain of command’s authority to attend, and they must be fully fit as the job requires standing for long periods of time in full military uniform.