Volunteers were first used to make the Olympics happen at London 1948: 64 years later, the volunteer scheme is returning home and once again, the volunteers are making it all happen.
The volunteers, numbering 70,000, have been fundamental in making the London 2012 Olympic games such a success. Having been lucky enough to secure tickets to an Olympic event, I witnessed first-hand just how great the Games makers are and what a massive contribution and vital role they have played in these Olympics.
Walking through the Olympic Park I was greeted with smiles from every single Games maker. They welcomed us in, wished us a good morning and pointed us in the right direction. Some had been let loose with megaphones and were making everyone laugh: one memorable guy was yelling out ‘It’s not rain, but tears of joy!’ and ‘Losing is all part of winning, so don’t be disappointed!’
They were making such an effort to get the crowd going. As well as gearing up the GB crowd with news of our fantastic medal results, they were making an effort with the foreign crowd as well, attempting to repeat their chants through the megaphone. They played an amazing role in creating the buzz and brilliant atmosphere that really made the Olympic park and the whole Olympic experience fantastic.
They played an amazing role in creating the buzz and brilliant atmosphere that really made the Olympic park and the whole Olympic experience fantastic.
They were also important in the running of the Olympics. They fulfilled so many duties, from security, to mobility; from escorting athletes to working in the technology team; from welcoming us, to standing around the park helping and directing people. Every role they filled has been crucial and without them no doubt the Olympics would have been a struggle to achieve. No wonder it has been suggested that their role be acknowledged at the Sports Personality of the Year Awards.
My friend, who has been working shifts on security, has been waking up at 4.30am, travelling through London, to spend her mornings helping people to get through security checks smoothly and quickly and of course, all with a smile on her face – I wouldn’t be smiling that early in the morning!
In addition to early starts and long shifts, volunteers had to go to at least three training sessions prior to the games. Let’s not forget that these are all volunteers and the majority have given up 10 days of their own time, often using up their holiday allowance from work, to be a Games maker. They do get to keep those awesome uniforms (I am slightly jealous!) and of course get to be present at Olympic venues and share in the experience – but they definitely deserve our appreciation as well.
A word must also be given for the role the army have played in the Olympics. When I went through the security checks for the Olympic Park, the army who were manning it were so friendly and cheerful, chatting away to us. I’ll admit when I first saw them, I instantly thought ‘oh dear better be on my best behaviour’! But they put me completely at ease, helping me get through the security checks, engaging people in conversation and smiling away. To think that they have stepped in to save London 2012 after the G4S security blunder, we have so much to thank them for, added to the list of what they already do for our country – amazing people!
Moreover, the volunteers who did a brilliant job performing in the opening ceremony must be mentioned. I was apprehensive as to what embarrassment we might churn out, but I was blown away by the show Great Britain put on. Naturally credit goes to Danny Boyle, Mr Bean, James Bond and the Queen (!), but the 15,000 volunteers who took part were breathtaking.
So while the athletes are the natural stars of the Olympics, the efforts of all the London 2012 volunteers shine through just as brightly in my eyes.
If you have been, or still are, a volunteer for London 2012, then please let us know about your experience either by commenting below or sending an email and/or pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.