10,000 Olympics volunteers start their training

Now on a freezing cold Saturday at 7.30am, I’m not going to lie to you, I would normally be comfortably snuggled under my duvet – but this weekend I was stirring my porridge in anticipation of heading to Wembley. There are normally two reasons I to go to Wembley: Take That and football. But on Saturday I was heading to the London 2012 Games Makers orientation training at Wembley Arena.

I’ve been lucky enough to sit on Locog’s volunteer advisory body and it was in this capacity that I was attending. Walking up Wembley Way there were literally 10,000 people starting their journey to volunteer at London 2012. 

The statistics are incredible: a quarter of a million applicants, and so far 80,000 interviewed and 55,000 offers made. Yet to get to the magic number of 70,000 there’s still work to be done and that’s before the training starts. This weekend’s four sessions (that’s 40,000 people over two days) was the start of the training – the next phase will be training for their actual role at the Olympics.

It’s no mean feat to get 10,000 people in a room but to use that three hours usefully had clearly taken a great deal of planning and it was inspiring stuff. Of course we started with Seb Coe – the one person we all associate with 2012 and he is as convincing in the flesh as in the films and interviews we were shown. He is someone who is genuinely committed to delivering the best experience possible and who believes passionately that without volunteers there is no sport in this country and that our Games Makers will “make the difference between a good games and a great games”.  Eddie Izzard also played his part and Jonathan Edwards and Huw Edwards and a whole host of others worked through the expectations of and for the volunteers.  And we got a viewing of the uniform that everyone will wear – ‘practical and bright’ with ‘British’ themes (it’s red and purple and takes inspiration from the Grenadier Guards!)

As I headed home on the Tube with my ‘How to be a Games Maker' pack I felt slightly embarrassed that I was the only one clutching it who wasn’t a volunteer. But it didn’t make me any less inspired by what I had heard or excited about the incredible spectacle of the biggest volunteer force this country will have seen in peacetime and the potential for its legacy too. Our experience tells us that if you have a positive volunteering experience you’ll go on to volunteer again and again and after seeing the time and energy being put into our 2012 Games Makers I can only imagine that they will want to make volunteering part of their lives on an on-going basis and that can only be a good thing.