End of the purple patch: London bids farewell to the Games Makers

 

They have formed high-fiving guards of honour to bid adieu to spectators and set out the hurdles in the Olympic Stadium with the precision of ballet dancers. They have placed plasters on grazed knees and stickers on excited schoolchildren. But most of all, they have given London 2012 its defining feature.

The 70,000 volunteers, or Games Makers, of the Paralympics and Olympics yesterday received the latest in a long line of votes of thanks when London Mayor Boris Johnson, with typical verbal aplomb, said they had dispensed "crop duster of serotonin" over the capital this summer.

From the job seeker from the West Midlands who travelled 2,000 miles to volunteer in the Olympic Park but did not see a second of live sport, to the dry wit of a Games Maker directing crowds to the Open ing Ceremony which became a YouTube hit, the volunteers have presented a big-hearted side of London it barely knew it possessed.

But amid the purple-shirted Feelgood Army that has pulled off the improbable triumph of turning London into the sort of city where for a magical eight weeks strangers talk to each other on the Tube, the satisfaction at a job well done was tinged yesterday with a sense of grief that it is all coming to an end.

Grandmother Grace Johnson, 62, who in ten days of volunteering on the Olympic Park has changed a nappy for a stressed-out mother and run 100 yards to reunite a teddy bear with its owner, said: "It's a bit back breaking. You get up at 5.30 and you don't stop but the camaraderie is fantastic. I think we'd lost sight of the fact that people respond to a bit of human warmth. I'm going to be a bit bereft after this. I'll have a little cry when it's all over."

The powers that be are hopeful that many of the volunteers, who between them have contributed eight million hours of free labour without which the cost of London 2012 would have been prohibitive, will offer their services to clubs and community groups, along with thousands of others who according to polls have been inspired by the Games Makers' example.

Mr Johnson, speaking at a reception in North Greenwich Arena to thank volunteers, said: "The important thing now is to look forward. We have to think about how to keep the energy in the volunteering life of the city."

In return for free meals and pre-paid Oyster cards, professionals from multiple backgrounds have given up their time and salary to join the London 2012 party. Aidan Robinson, a chiropractor from Doncaster, who helped British servicemen recovering from devastating injuries suffered in Afghanistan, worked in the polyclinic treating athletes in the Paralympics, and said: "Whatever I gave up was more than worth it."

With one Games Maker vowing he will be buried in his distinctive uniform, those who have indeed made the games will at the very least take away the satisfaction of having provided five million lifetime experiences.

As the volunteer whose loud hailer-delivered wisdom outside the Olympic Park became a YouTube hit, put it: "Some of you will say, I watched the Olympics. I'll say, I listened to the Olympics from outside and I heard a bit. It was faint but I still heard it. I heard them having fun and celebrating and I felt happy inside. I felt a warmth in my heart and I carried on."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Buddy DeFranco
people
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month