Volunteers from Norfolk and Suffolk will help make the Olympic Games happen
06:30 11 April 2012
Volunteers have been integral to both Summer and Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games since they were used for the first time at London 1948. So in 2012, the volunteer programme will be coming home to the city where it all began.
More than 240,000 people from all backgrounds and communities across the UK applied for the chance to play their part at the Games. The London Organising Committee for the Olympics and Paralympics (Locog) then had the arduous task of whittling that number down.
Volunteering roles range from sport specific roles to greeting spectators on arrival at venue; writing for the Olympic village newspaper to researching Games-related statistics and facts; collecting blood samples for athletes selected for doping control to providing physiotherapy to athletes and officials.
London 2012 chairman Lord Seb Coe said: “London 2012 is relying on the brilliant Games Makers to help deliver a great Olympic and Paralympic Games. Our Games Makers will contribute a total of around eight million volunteer hours during the Games and it simply wouldn’t happen without them.”
Last month, thousands of people attended the first block of orientation training events, the first stage in the training programme.
The Games Makers will now receive role-specific training, where they will learn all they need to know to carry out their role successfully. They will then receive venue-specific training in June which will familiarise volunteers with their venue.
By Games time, Games Makers will have collectively undertaken 1.2 million hours of training, and will contribute eight million volunteer hours during London 2012.
In return for their dedication, hard work, time and support, they will take away memories of the London 2012 Games which will last a lifetime.
■ Two Norwich badminton coaches will keep their beady eyes on the world’s best players this summer when they line judge at the London Olympics.
David Guy and Suzanne Benton will go from coaching at Hellesdon High School to making calls on potentially game-changing decisions in the Olympics.
Mr Guy, who is chairman of Tasburgh Badminton club which plays in Long Stratton, and Mrs Benton, who coaches across at the UEA and Hellesdon High School, will play a crucial role in the world’s biggest sporting event.
As shuttlecocks smashed at 300mph come hurtling across the court, they will have to decide whether they are out or in.
Mr Guy, who lives in Honingham, said: “Badminton has been a very large part of my life. I realised I would never get there as a player. It occurred to me that line-judging would a good way of getting there. I was keen to see it at the top level and get to the Olympics.”
Mrs Benton had a similar idea and they started a line judges course, run by Badminton England, two-and-a-half years ago in the hope they would be ready for London 2012.
Both My Guy and Mrs Benton have travelled across the country as well as to Austria and Belgium to line judge at tournaments and build up enough experience.
■ Volunteering at the Olympic Games will be as good as a gold medal for one Fakenham woman.
Lesley Croft had held childhood dreams of making it the Olympics and although she was never to fulfil those ambitions as a sportswomen, she said being selected as a Games Maker was “magical”.
The 52-year-old mum-of-three, who works as a childminder and volunteers for charity Appropriate Adult, will be a venue entry team member.
She said: “I was always athletic and wanted to be an Olympian and win a gold medal when I was a child but that didn’t happen.
“So when I heard they needed people to volunteer, I applied straightaway.
“I’m over the moon to be selected, absolutely over the moon. It’s a chance in a lifetime, it’s like winning a gold medal itself.”
■ Cycle coach Mark Elmy has already got a taste of what volunteering at the Olympic Games will be like.
The 46-year-old, from Bungay, is set to volunteer for the cycling time trial at the Olympic Games and track cycling at the Paralympic Games.
The married father-of-two has already been to one of the orientation events and recently volunteered at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup test event at the Olympic Park velodrome.
The cycle coach and instructor said being a volunteer for the Olympics is an opportunity he “wouldn’t have missed for the world”.
Mr Elmy, who has just heard he will also volunteer at the velodrome during the Olympics as well as the Paralympics, said: “Volunteering for me was never a question. I organise many cycle events each year and have great sympathy for fellow organisers and share their dream of putting on a good event.
“During the test event, I got to see the world’s track cycling royalty and world’s cycling press and speak to some of them, direct them onto and off the track and escort them to and from the podium – nothing very challenging but all the time having to pinch myself, to think inside my head ‘you know who that is’.
“Looking back I can’t help but smile when I remember what I’d seen and I look forward to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, not only as a spectator but as a contributor and a fellow athlete.
“Without the athletes there would be no Olympics and they know that without all of the investment in infrastructure and all of the personnel involved there would be no Olympics or sport at all.”