‘I Made London 2012!’

Jeff on Duty at the Olympics Opening Ceremony


 
GUEST POST:  JEFF TONG

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1. What was your Olympic Volunteer Role?

I was an Operations Assistant for the Opening & Closing Ceremonies for the Olympic and Paralympic Gamesbased in the Olympic Stadium and around the Olympic Park. I was one out of 800 volunteers who had the privilege to be the first Olympic Games to help out in all four ceremonies.

2. When did you volunteer?

My first induction for the role was on the 12/04/2012 and my final day was on the 09/09/2012 so almost five months.

3. Describe your uniform

My uniform was pretty simple, it was wear anything that covered all seasonal weather with a blue hi-vis so cast and crew knew what department we belong to, plus the all important radio. On the show nights we wore all black so we could blend into the background, the London Ambassador trousers came in very handy with all its pockets!

4. What did you do?

Our tasks varied a lot; before the cast arrived at the stadium, we prepped the stadium ready for the cast, lots of risk assessing and putting signage everywhere etc. When the cast did grace the stadium there was a lot of cast co-ordination and movement, keeping them safe from construction and restricted areas, catering and supporting all other departments in their role. Then on the actual ceremony nights roles would change again!

5. What was your highlight?

Since I arrived at the stadium, only a handful of people knew where the Olympic Torch, a.k.a. Betty, will be and what it actually looks like. On the Opening Ceremony night I was fortunate enough to be the floor manager of the Bell Stage, being inside the stadium to witness it all was brilliant but the only new thing that I haven’t seen rehearsals of was the torch. Seeing that light up for the first time, as the cauldron transformed and came together, the silence of stadium with the solo opera singer, absolute spine-tingling moment!

6. What do you feel you gained?

The amount of happiness I felt for all the performers and how much they appreciated our time and effort reaffirmed how great volunteering is and what it brings to other people. So amplify this by nearly 20,000 cast members and that’s what I gained. That and I gained a lot of pins!

7. Are you inspired to volunteer further?

I’m currently a volunteer for St John Ambulance so understand the importance of it, and when I was at university I was always helping out with the Student Union and running clubs and events as a volunteer. I feel that this experience has renewed my values of volunteering, doing something not for personal gain but for others keeps you grounded.

8. What’s your lasting memory of the Olympics and Paralympics?

I will always remember this as The Games that brought so much jubilation, inspiration and selflessness to the UK. For that I am proud to be part of the event that united the world.

 

Jeff Tong is the first of my Guest Posts. Over this coming year, I will feature a number of Games Volunteers and Games Visitors talking about their experience of London 2012!

**Lord Sebastian Coe in his closing speech at The Olympics Closing Ceremony said all the Volunteers had the right to carry the phrase ‘I made London 2012′ as a badge of honour.

Greenwich at Last!

Mooring at Greenwich

Greenwich is my last stop. As the Equestrian Olympic & Paralympic and Modern Pentathlon events are to take place in Greenwich Park, in ‘an arena set behind the National Maritime Museum and the wonderfully grand colonnades of the Old Royal Navy Hospital.’ TimeOut London 2012. Also the Olympic & Paralympic Shooting and Paralympic Archery events will take place at The Royal Artillery Barracks, east of Greenwich nearest to Woolwich Arsenal Rail.

Greenwich Park

Running out of energy I just make it to the gate of Greenwich Park, which looks a beautiful green open space. Unfortunately I am too exhausted to walk through to the Royal Observatory, which has a great view my friend said that morning.

The sun is now starting to go down and I have a memory of visiting Greenwich Market twenty-two years ago. My memory serves me well and the market is open full of various craft stalls…

Greenwich Market

I then head down to see the Cutty Sark, passing the Gipsy Moth Pub which I also remembered. But, Greenwich front is currently looking like a building site and the Cutty Sark all bandaged up.**

I start chatting to two middle-aged women, who tell me that there was a fire started by a vacuum cleaner, which nearly burnt down the ship. Now it is being restored and also a glass structure is being built so it would seem as if the boat is on the sea…

It all sounds very exciting but in January darkness I am literally standing on a building site looking at a wrecked ship, advising the two ladies to go and take a look at the Olympic Park. As they say they want to shop at Westfield, but rarely cross ‘north of the river’ nowadays being from South East London. My London Ambassador role has begun even now….

** The Queen has just reopened The Cutty Sark on April 25th: Various reports via BBCITVTelegraph and how to visit from The Londonist

Crossing The Thames…

Just missed a Thames Clipper

The woman at the ticket booth tries to sort my ticket in time for the Thames Clipper that’s about to leave. But my Disabled Discount isn’t showing on the Oyster Card on my ticket from North Greenwich to Greenwich Pier. I only take one stop, but as I said in my previous post, you can take a Thames Clipper all the way up the Thames to the London Eye.

As I just reach the edge of North Greenwich Pier, the Clipper is raising its boarding platform and off. Just a note, they specifically stick to times, even if they see you coming they will not wait.

So the few of us who were rushing to catch this one relax…

Waiting...

View Across The Thames

… with a beautiful view across the Thames. Well, it’s mainly industrial warehouses but it is just refreshing to see the water, after the built up concrete of London!

Here the Thames Clipper Comes
20 minutes later…

Boat getting closer...

… and we board.

Costa Coffee is also available on the Clippers, which I was pleased to see, as Costa is one of my favourite places. So I indulge in an Earl Grey tea to keep warm.

We twist and turn on the Thames, again passing The O2 at the rivers bend. Before floating down past mostly warehouse type buildings to Greenwich.

On the boat, nearing Greenwich

I would definitely recommend a trip in a Thames Clipper if you are going between Olympic Sites and have some time. Or if as a visitor, you are having a few days for sight-seeing. It provides an interesting alternative to the underground and trains. Here’s a little more about London River Services.

On to The O2

There’s been a lull on my blog as I’ve been attending Module 1 for the London Ambassador Programme. I’m also preparing for Module 2 coming up, so I’ll be blogging about both soon.

First to catch up with the last days of my January trip….

Screen Shot Tube Greenwich

Leaving Excel at Custom House for Excel on the DLR, I change at Canning Town. Dipping under the Thames on the Jubilee Line to North Greenwich for The O2.

I want to take a brief look at The O2 as it will ‘play a major role in London 2012’ Time Out. The basketball, wheelchair basketball and gymnastics will be here.

Outside of The O2

I’ve never been to The O2 but had heard about it first when it was launched in 2000 as the Millennium Dome. Emirates are sponsoring the cable link between the O2 and Excel being created for The Games, it is in the process of being completed. Making the travel link between the two sites infinitely easier.

Inside the O2

As it is such a sunny day I spend only a short time inside the actual O2 which is now mainly known, ‘with its outstanding sound, unobstructed lightlines and the potential for artists to perform in the round’ London 2012 Time Out,  as the arena venue of choice for music.

The O2 blue lights inside

I then head down to North Greenwich Pier to catch one of the nifty Thames Clippers that are the ‘fastest fleet on the river’ according to their pocket timetable.

North Greenwich Pier sign

I’d googled that morning of the best way to get across The Thames and simultaneously my friend said why don’t you catch a boat!

Screen Shot Thames Clippers

Thames Clippers is a water bus service operating the length of The Thames in Central London. Stopping at Woolwich, Greenwich, Masthouse Terrace, Greenland, Canary Wharf, Bankside, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Blackfriars, Embankment and Waterloo piers.

The ‘high speed luxury river travel for London’s commuters and visitors’ TC Timetable, provide a pleasant and quick way to cross The Thames.

Continued…

ExCeL at Royal Victoria Dock

Pringle from bus: Walthamstow to Stratford

Another sunny winter’s day in London and I jump on a bus from Walthamstow to Stratford. Taking in the sites I would normally miss on the underground. Passing the Velodrome, nicknamed ‘The Pringle’ was a treat, especially as I missed it at the Olympic Park.

screen shot from underground map of Docklands Light Railway

Next through Stratford Station and the Saturday throng…

I catch the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Custom House (for Excel).

The DLR is the light blue line on the map and is an overground train, for those who are unaware.

Excel

It is a change to travel over ground. Arriving at Custom House for ExCel stop, many are exiting the train. It turns out it’s the weekend of the London Boat Show at ExCeL. A pleasant surprise for me, as years ago, when I was housebound with ME/CFS, my Dad and sister would come to the London Boat Show and return with stories. So to accidentally arrive here now is serendipitous!

Excel

ExCeL, the international exhibition and convention centre, is playing a crucial role in the Olympic & Paralympic Games. Firstly in the interview process for Games Makers. A friend of mine attended one of his Games Makers interviews at ExCeL. Secondly, during The Games themselves:

‘For the London 2012 Games, ExCeL’s 45.000sq m and two halls will be divided into five arenas accommodating 13 sports – it is to host the largest number of events of any venue outside the Olympic Park.’ says Time Out London in its Official 2012 Olympic Guide Book

Among the sports included at ExCeL are Fencing, Table Tennis, paralympic Judo, Volleyball – sitting.

Although the sports will be inside the sunny day keeps me exploring the beautiful Royal Victoria Dock where ExCel is situated…

Royal Victoria Dock

Royal Victoria Dock from bridge

Royal Victoria Dock from bridge

‘Located between Canary Wharf and London City Airport, this convention centre is right on Royal Victoria Dock.’ Time Out London Official 2012 Guide Book.

Excel

Royal Victoria Dock from bridge

Most of these photos are taken from the footbridge at ExCeL:

‘A footbridge from ExCeL, high above Royal Victoria Dock, takes you to the beautiful Thames Barrier Park. Opened in 2011, this was London’s first new park in half a century. it has a lush sunken garden of waggly hedges and offers perhaps the best views from land of the Thames Barrier. If you don’t fancy walking, enter the park from Pontoon Dock DLR.’ Time Out London Official 2012 Guide Book

I can clarify that the footbridge is certainly ‘high above’ the Dock but you do get the most amazing views. There is a lift for those who cannot manage the steps. I never made it to the Thames Barrier Park that is mentioned above, but I certainly enjoyed the views of the London Docklands skyline from the footbridge.

Royal Victoria Dock

Excel

Also whilst looking around the ExCeL website I came across this excellent video ‘Why London?‘ It’s a very useful one for us ambassadors to take a look at for why visitors may come to London.