Community champions to get Olympic preview

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The Independent Online

Thousands of people will get an exclusive look at the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell announced today.

As a thank-you for giving up their time for community work, devoted volunteers could be in line for one of the 2,012 pairs of tickets for the dress rehearsal.

It is one of the rewards of the national 25th Hour campaign which is based on the idea that everyone can all find the extra hour and more to make a difference.

Launching the scheme at the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, Jowell said: "Millions of people want to be involved in the Olympics when it comes.

"This campaign will give them a chance to do that by pledging their time to get involved in their communities and by doing so having the chance to go see the dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony.

"It's not just for people who like sport either. Whether you love culture, education or the environment, this is a movement everyone can be a part of."

The tickets will be among a range of London 2012-themed awards for "exceptional time givers".

The 25th Hour is separate to London 2012's volunteer programme which seeks to recruit 70,000 people to help the Games run smoothly.

Both schemes want to tap in to the enthusiasm for the Games and build a grassroots network of support.

From today people can go online at - to pledge their time to help out in the regions where they live and work.

They will be able go online to find out what work will be available in their area from June.

A host of national sports organisations, charities and voluntary groups are backing the campaign.

More organisations are expected to be recruited in to the 25th Hour campaign in the run-up to London 2012 enabling the website to direct people to would-be opportunities and search by postcode and personal interest.

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said: "Our vision is to use the power of the Games to inspire lasting change.

"They offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something extraordinary, to inspire everyone to use their passion to help others.

"The 25th Hour will allow all of us to make a contribution and achieve our own personal best and leave a lasting legacy in our communities."

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, an 11-time Paralympic champion and trustee of v - The National Young Volunteers' Service said: "We're delighted to be supporting the 25th hour campaign, using the power of 2012 to harness the talents, energy and enthusiasm of new generation of young volunteers.

"The 25th Hour will inspire all of us, and especially young people, to make a contribution and achieve our own Personal Best. Together we can achieve something extraordinary if we find a little extra time."

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "The London 2012 Games bring with them a once in a lifetime opportunity to tap into people's enthusiasm for giving their time.

"Most people don't realise the positive impact one hour can make and the 25th hour campaign will help the many organisations in the capital and across the country that are looking for people to devote their time, energy and skills.

"There is great work in promoting volunteering already under way in London and I am championing at every opportunity the important role volunteers have to play before, during and after the Games".

Organisations backing the campaign include v - The National Young Volunteers' Service, ParalympicsGB, UK Athletics, British Cycling, Amateur Boxing Association of England, The Football Association, England and Wales Cricket Board, Rugby Football Union, Access Sport, UK Sport, English Federation of Disability Sport, London Coaching Foundation, CCPR, British Red Cross, Marie Curie Cancer Care, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Breast Cancer Care, Catch22, Volunteering England, Volunteer Development Scotland, Wales Council for Voluntary Action, Volunteer Development Agency, National Association for Voluntary and Community Action, Youthnet, UK Youth, Clubs for Young People, Duke of Edinburgh's Award, Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust, Media Trust, BTCV, The Waterways Trust, Natural England and Society of Editors.