London 2012: Olympics success down to 70,000 volunteers

 

The 70,000 Olympic volunteers who have given their time and energy have been the key to the Games' success.

They are the unsung - and unpaid - heroes and heroines who will take home priceless memories.

Contributing eight million hours of voluntary work behind the scenes, without them the Games would not have been possible.

With relentless enthusiasm and energy Thomas Smith, 23, from Southampton, is typical of the "Games Makers".

Having just finished his final exams in mechanical engineering at Bath University and with a job lined up, instead of taking a well-earned rest he was giving up his last summer holiday before his working life begins to be part of London 2012.

Standing in the sunshine outside the Olympic Stadium dealing with a steady stream of spectators looking for assistance, Mr Smith was just glad to be of help.

"To be honest I never really thought of it as giving up something," he said.

"This has been something I have been looking forward to for the last year."

Like many volunteers at the 34 separate venues, many are so near yet so far from the action, often on duty outside the arena as the events take place inside.

"I was outside the stadium for the 100m final and could hear the roar of the crowd but couldn't see it.

"If I was at home I could watch it on TV - but I would not get what it was like with that atmosphere. That atmosphere is not something you would get from the TV.

"It's been long hours - I've fallen asleep on the Tube going home - but everyone has been so happy.

"This has been the biggest event in my lifetime."

More than 240,000 applied to volunteer, with 86,000 interviewed before the final selection.

With 8.8 million tickets for sale to watch 10,490 athletes across 26 sports and with another 5,770 team officials, roles for the Games Makers spanned everything from welcome desk staff to ticket checkers to drivers and event stewards.

Sarah Collyer, 46, and Ranjana Patel, 58, were on ticketing duties at the Olympic Stadium.

Mrs Patel, a mother-of-three from Esher, Surrey, said: "I do some other voluntary work and I just wanted to be here and be part of it all.

"You are really exhausted when you are going home at night but when you come back in the morning you forget about it.

"And everybody has been so friendly.

"One of my sons is in New York and he's been so jealous and envious.

"I wanted the Games to go on for ever."

Mrs Collyer gave up some of her annual leave from work as a business manager to volunteer.

The mother-of-three from East Grinstead said: "I just wanted to be part of it really, and to give something back and to be here, in the middle of it all.

"Every aspect has been fantastic - the organisation, the transport. It was not what we were led to believe - running up to the Games it was all supposed to be a disaster in the waiting.

"My family think what I'm doing is great. They all wish they had done it now. I thought it would be okay, but not as good as all this."

For Jonathon Instrell, 21, volunteering at the Games was living his dream, he said.

The 21-year-old from Eltham, south London, last week graduated with a degree in sports science at the University of Greenwich.

On a break from helping out with the team dealing with transport issues on the Olympic Park, he said: "This is like my dream come true. Most people don't even get a chance to do this and it comes around just as you graduate on your own doorstep. Fantastic.

"It gets extremely busy at times but you get taken up by the atmosphere and buzz. And everyone is so friendly, the whole Olympic Park is so friendly."

Stefania Giordani, 31, living in Willesden Green, London, looks surprised when asked why she volunteered - as a masseuse - at the Games.

Ms Giordani, originally from Rome, has been giving free massages to some of the 21,000 media and broadcasters working at the Games.

"It is just wonderful, a great, great experience just to be here, the opportunity to volunteer for the experience and to meet other people and just to be here and lend a hand. Why wouldn't you do this?

"It is hard work but it is rewarding. It is a great event, it's the biggest sports event in the world and to be around and participate in it is a big, big thing."

Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
Arts & Entertainment
Back in the suit: There are only so many variations you can spin on the lives or adventures of Peter Parker
filmReview: Almost every sequence and set-up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems familiar from some earlier superhero film
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Life & Style
Stir it up: the writer gets a lichen masterclass from executive chef Vivek Singh of the Cinnamon restaurants
food + drinkLichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit