Volunteers wanted for ‘greatest show on earth’

Photo: london2012.com

Applications to volunteer as Games Makers for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London in summer 2012 opened this week. Organisers are looking for people with ‘passion and enthusiasm’ – and local knowledge of Hackney and Tower Hamlets, for example, will be a big plus.

London 2012 organisers need 70,000 volunteers – described by spokesperson Annabel Gunnell as ‘the largest peace-time recruitment of people in this country’ – to help make the games run smoothly, and are particularly interested in anyone with vital local knowledge of the five ‘Olympic boroughs’ . She said they were delighted with the response they had had within just 24 hours.

‘Generalist’ volunteers may be ask to fulfil a host of duties – front of house, back of house, driving, escorting athletes, checking tickets – and need no previous experience but should be, Annabel Gunnell stressed, enthusiastic team players with a real desire to make a difference and commit themselves to the Games. Volunteers should be over 18 on 1 January 2012 (there will be a separate recruitment for 1,500 under-18 ‘Young Games Makers next summer), but there is no upper age limit. The commitment is for ten days, plus three days’ training, and may involve unsociable shifts; it won’t be glamorous and volunteers will not get paid nor receive tickets for any of the games, although they get to keep their volunteering uniform as a memento and will be provided with food and drink during their shifts. So what’s the attraction? Because, says Gunnell, ‘It’s a chance to make history happen. None of us are likely to see the Olympics or Paralympics come to our shores again in our lifetimes, and it’s an opportunity to make a difference.’

Or, as comedian Eddie Izzard puts it in the promotional Games Maker video, indicating the as-yet unfinished Olympic Stadium in Stratford: ‘You will be part of the greatest show on earth..I will be here. Will you?

The closing date for Games Maker applications is 27 October.

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