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Archive for July 30th, 2012

Odds Blog: The 2012 Opening Ceremony – Richard’s view

Posted by indigodream on 30 July, 2012

Friday 27th July

I had the privilege of being asked to do a volunteer shift at the Opening Ceremony. If you are an Olympics sceptic then don’t read this post – I think the Olympics are the greatest show on earth and I am delighted that the games have come to London.

So they are doing silly things on the roads; some of their thinking about how to move people round stations is very silly; what they are doing on the waterways is beyond of silly, but hey, this is the greatest show on earth, it is here, let’s embrace it and enjoy it.

My experience of being a volunteer is completely different to Sue’s. The Olympic Stadium team is highly organised, they learn quickly, they adapt quickly. On opening night there were 500 volunteers in event services, we are just one of the volunteer teams working the stadium. I suspect on opening night there would have been a total of 10,000 volunteers there but that includes the fantastic performers and the amazingly energetic rude mechanicals.

Here’s my ‘journal’ from the big night…
Our evening starts at 2pm with a briefing for all 500 with a reasonable PA system for the speakers. Now the PA system is worth talking about as earlier in the week they only had a suspect megaphone; yet the message got across thanks to impressive personal skills so it worked, but it was not right. By the next briefing they had put in a simple PA system. They learn very quickly and get problems sorted!

So we have a briefing to all 500 volunteers first, then we go to our areas which, for me, meant walking to block 150 on the far side. There we had a specific area briefing, then our 10 person team had a team briefing by block 153 and our team leader walked us round and pointed out all possible issues before sending us round to explore and make sure we were completely familiar with our area e.g. where are the ladies toilets, where is the pram store, where is the nearest first aid store, where are the water fountains. I have to say the briefings are done very well and be they by staffers or volunteers they are all well trained, well informed and do it well.

Here are some of my photos to give you a sense of how I saw the evening:

Waiting for the main briefing, let me paint a picture. It is a temporary prefab, big “L” shaped room, this is roughly one third of it. Everybody is talking, it is loud, people have had great experiences already and they are sharing them. Real eager anticipation ….

Stadium being prepared ….. . This is my view from my first post position – we get rotated, so at times you have a bum job, at other times you have an exciting position.

Checking that the flag poles work

Giving the mosh pits a clean – obviously the crowd in there for the dress rehearsals must been messy!

Daniel Craig having a practice (still can’t get over that those corgis are actually really Buck House residents, what stars!)..

Three more stars: These guys were due to perform just after 9pm as industrialists (is that what they were called?) in the south east corner, roughly where the shire horse would have been. Ah that is another story: We sat just above there on Wednesday so got to see the team coming out with a big wheelbarrow and a very big shovel just after the shire horse left …

Rude mechanicals coming on duty – Did that term come from Midsummer Night’s Dream? They are basically there to direct the audience for tricks like the blue silk drapes – like all the performers they are mega high energy.

Huge crowd coming over the bridge, will ticketing cope?

Of course! Big big teams working each of the bridges, they have queue managers outside directing people to less crowded aisles and simply loads of people on duty to get you through smoothly. They did test events, had a problem, took that away and sorted it.

Arghhhh I can’t remember her name. This lady from Birmingham is really interesting, she takes every opportunity to sit down with someone, take your photo, gets your life history and makes little notes on her smartphone to go with the photo. My entry probably says “good god look at how much he has just eaten” – oh well just as well they don’t serve beer.

and you though Steve Redgrave carried the torch in …



Hopefully these guys will find their photos?

LOCOG take first aid very seriously …. I have to say some of the nurses had amazingly energetic roles to maintain right through that set. I don’t know how they managed it, the 150 hours practice they had must have been a serious get fit assault course! And as for the nurses on skates, so smooth, they looked fantastic

Things were only just starting and look at people’s faces. They were out to enjoy, they were great to talk to as we did our bit, you could not wish for a more fantastic crowd.

I could not resist this photo of one of the backing singers: Hair (tick), Make-up (tick), Sexy dress (tick), Wellies (tick). Oh the Tor was getting a bit Glastonbury like by then but still made me laugh

Just look at the audience!

Forging of the rings, such a great moment

and they thought so too – our stand actually clapped and clapped and then gave them the first of several standing ovations. Great crowd of people, I am honoured to have been working inside the stadium bowl for some of the night

Only a few photos more – time is defeating me as we are off to the White Water Centre soon

Who chucked the match in the box?

I am not sure if this came over on the TV but that hill is seriously steep and awkward to walk up. These guys just walked up smoothly …

They kept this secret very well, we had no idea where the cauldron was going to be, and I have to say I loved the way they had tomorrow’s rising stars light it.

Oh no, it is finishing.

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