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London 2012: Through the Eyes of a 'Games Maker'
London Olympics 2012
Member Name: GuruOnAMountain
London Olympics 2012
Advantages: A great experience!
Disadvantages: Cost me a fair bob in travel expenses!
Cast your mind back to last summer and think on the Olympics and I'm sure you'll have visions of purple and red clad keen people, giving up their time and energy to try and make sure the Games worked. Well, I was one of them and this is my story.
Where It All Began:
It all began in a rather ordinary and boring way. I seen an advert seeking people to apply to be Gamesmakers on the back of a bus and thought, "Oh, I'll need to look that up when I get home." The Gamesmakers were recruited long before the games and so the enthusiasm wasn't hugely high yet. The ad I saw was in about winter 2011 so the Games seemed a long way off but I got home, went online and filled out an application form and then forgot all about it until I received an email inviting me to an interview.
I was a bit in two minds about whether to go or not but eventually decided it would be good interview practice, if nothing else, and I'm so glad I did. I made my way to Glasgow Science Centre in the rain and found my way inside. I was early and got chatting to other applicants outside for a while and then we were shepherded up to tables where our names were checked and we were given bands to wear. These were in different colours depending on the group we were in and were embossed with London 2012 Gamesmaker Selection Event. We were told we could keep this as a memento of our day.
We then moved to a table where our ID was checked and our photos were taken and then into a holding room where boards on the wall talked about the history of the games and the events that were included in London 2012. Best of all, as Cadbury's was an official sponsor, there was a huge stand filled with Heroes and we were allowed to indulge in as many as we wanted while we waited! Finally, we were led into a cinema room where an inspirational video was shown, featuring Eddie Izzard and Seb Coe.
After this ended, we were taken to our 'pods' where our interview took place. The volunteer interviewers were great: very upbeat, cheerful and put you at ease. I really enjoyed the experience and I never thought I'd say that about an interview! The long wait then began to hear if I was successful or not.
I was chosen to be part of Workforce Operations at Hampden Park and the training dates quickly came rolling in. First of all we had an inspirational evening at Glasgow Concert Hall, led by Jonathan Edwards where, among other things, our uniform was revealed to us. We had other training events where we were introduced to the venue or our specific roles as the Games time drew nearer. We had to learn some basic sign language as well as specific role training.
The Journey Begins:
My journey began earlier than expected as it turned out the Uniforms team was short staffed and I was asked to join it. This team operated pre-Games, giving out Uniforms to all the volunteers as well as people affiliated with the sponsors. Many of our uniforms had been pre-packed if volunteers had filled out an online sizing survey but for those that hadn't, we had a changing room and a computer system set up to issue them. We rotated between positions. We could work on the front desk, checking people had their ID and were volunteers or on giving out the pre-packed Uniforms, or we could be working in the changing rooms assigning Uniforms through the system or lastly, in the stock room.
It was great fun even though it was freezing! Our Team Leaders went out their way to make things fun and successful. We used to hide prizes every day for us to search for. We had bucket lists written on the wall of things we wanted to achieve and other lists up of things each team member had already achieved. We had a 'mini' Olympics on a slow day with events including skipping and running up and down the stadium stairs! We built a 8ft ship out of left over cardboard boxes and filmed a flash mob to "You Can Call Me Al" in the stadium. The best bit was slowly watching the stadium take shape. We watched the branding come down and be replaced with the Olympics branding and logos. We watched the pitch get prepared and the goalposts being set up and we seen the security slowly becoming more rigorous as the Games approached.
The best bit of the job was guiding people from Accreditation over to Uniforms as the route we took them was through the Stadium tunnel out onto pitch side and up the stadium steps. A lot of them lit up when realising how close to the pitch they were.
Soon, of course, the Games crept round and my days in Uniforms were over and I moved into Workforce Ops. Basically, my job was to scan people in for their shifts, make sure they had their meal vouchers and to troubleshoot anything that came up such as someone who wasn't on the system to be working that day. We also had the nice job of giving out rewards and recognition items which included things like pin badges and an etched relay baton. These were given out on certain days to all volunteers to thank them for their time.
We also were supposed to be in charge of the chocolate reserves but they unfortunately didn't turn up until the last match day! We ended up with tonnes of chocolate all to be got rid of in one day. We had a fun time filling up buckets and giving sweets to queuing spectators. The police and security staff were also keen to grab a handful and my fellow volunteer had the dubious honour of feeding a police horse a chocolate after being asked to by its rider!
The job had its perks, of course. Most of the days our work was over fairly early on in the day after scanning people in and we weren't needed for much else so we would take it in turns to go to one of the executive boxes that we had to use and catch a little bit of the matches. We missed out on a lot of the Olympics action as we were working through it but it was so worth it.
We all came down to earth with a bump when the Games were over and the Games Makers more than anyone! I didn't have an excuse to don my Uniform any more and Hampden park was no longer my daily location. The response to the Olympics and to the Games Makers was huge, though and I could feel proud to be part of it. There was an event at George Square where the Scottish athletes were honoured for their efforts and Games Makers were encouraged to wear their uniform so I went with a fellow Games Maker. So many members of the public were coming up to thank us for volunteering or to ask for our picture. It was really overwhelming and I've never been thanked so much for volunteering at something before in my life!
I still have my uniform as a reminder of my experience and all my reward and recognition items. Maybe one day I can show them to the grandkids.
I straight away got onto finding out more about the Commonwealth Games and have started to now volunteer as a 'Frontrunner' for them where I am interviewing volunteer candidates and also doing promotional stuff for them. I'm being interviewed for a Games time role of Uniforms again, so hopefully I can relive the experience again and this time be truly part of the action since Glasgow is the host city!
Summary: A once in a lifetime experience.