AS A 20-year-old undergoing national service in 1973, Tang Tung Chun used his precious leave to volunteer as a first-aider for the South-east Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games.
It was the first time that Singapore was hosting the multi-sport event and Tang was determined to be a part of history.
More than 40 years later, the retiree will again offer his services by volunteering as a media relations officer for the Singapore SEA Games in June.
"I had such fond memories of my first SEAP Games," said Tang, who also volunteered at the 1983 and 1993 editions on home soil. "I was based at the Games Village which was in Toa Payoh Central which just had a few blocks unlike today and was on duty at the old National Stadium. So I can't wait to see the new stadium. It'll be such a thrill."
The 62-year-old is just one of more than 17,000 Singaporeans and residents who have signed up as volunteers for the June 5-16 Games,
surpassing Sport Singapore's (SportSG) original target of 15,000.
The overwhelming response was hailed by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong at yesterday's appreciation night at Waterworld at Universal Studios, which was attended by more than 5,000 volunteers. A similar event will be held after the Games to thank them and will include free admission to all the rides at the theme park.
Mr Wong told them: "You give your time and expertise to a range of critical tasks, often carried out behind the scenes, so that athletes can focus on their events, and spectators can have a good experience.
"I hope this spirit of sports volunteerism will energise and inspire more Singaporeans to step forward and volunteer in other areas too."
Displaying such selflessness was breast cancer survivor Lee Seow Ser, 42. The mother of two, who volunteered at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, recently completed her radiation treatment and will be assisting as a digital content producer.
She said: "This will be a great opportunity for me to share and hone my skills while giving back to my country."
It is this generosity of spirit that Ng Chee Wei, 39, hopes to instill in his eight-year-old daughter Charlotte, the youngest volunteer. They will work together at the equestrian events in Kranji.
The learning never stops, chuckled Lim Lea Cheen, 52, who works in an IT company. During one of their weekly exercise visits to the Sports Hub, she was egged on by her mother Seah Wai Ying, the oldest volunteer at 84, and together they will be assisting the food and beverage teams.
She said: "I was a bit concerned given her age but she told me that she hopes to volunteer every day."
More than 7,000 athletes and officials from the 11 South-east Asian nations will be involved in 36 sports across the island.
With exactly 100 days before the opening ceremony at the Sports Hub, SportSG's chief executive Lim Teck Yin noted that the organisers are 70 per cent ready and will be ramping up efforts in the coming months with the Team Singapore mass rally at Orchard Road on March 7 the next major event on the cards.
He said: "I am confident our volunteers as Singapore's ambassadors will provide an extraordinary experience to the athletes, officials and guests."
This article was first published on Feb 25, 2015.
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