Church members from congregations around Great Britain are some of the Games Makers, the 70,000 volunteers of the Olympic and Paralympic games, so called by Lord Sebastian Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee who commented that, 'Volunteers can make or break the Games'.
They are using their skills, experience and time to be part of the 'Greatest Show on Earth' in London and at other venues around Great Britain and were chosen from 240,000 applicants.
The volunteers are involved in hundreds of roles from raking the sand to assisting in the press office, from scanning spectator tickets to transporting the athletes and were first used in the London Olympics of 1948.
Debbie Twigger, a games maker at the London 2012 Olympics gives us an insight into being involved in the games and introduces us to other volunteers within the Church in Great Britain.
"I have always enjoyed watching the Olympic Games but when I read about the missionaries in Greece volunteering in the Athens Olympics several years ago I felt this was something I would like to do. As a lifetime member I regularly get involved in organising Helping Hands activities within the Northampton Stake and have enjoyed volunteering within the Church.
When London won the bid to stage the Olympics back in 2005 I immediately thought about trying to volunteer and was delighted when the London Organising Committee for the Olympics (LOCOG) started to ask for anyone who would be interested in volunteering at the Olympics to register their interest on a special website. Then, about two years ago after my application was submitted and after many months of waiting to hear I eventually received an invitation to attend an interview in February of this year.
I was given a role as Team Leader within Events Services, which is the public face of the games, dealing with the spectators: scanning tickets, manning information points, providing mobility services etc at the historic Horse Guards Parade in the centre of London and surrounded by the Prime Minister's official residence in Downing Street and the Queen's residence at Buckingham Palace for the Beach Volleyball. I am also at the Paralympics for the road cycling. Receiving this opportunity has been a dream come true and definitely one on my wish list to tick off.
The experience has been absolutely fantastic with wonderful supportive people who work as a team. There is a brilliant atmosphere in London with happy spectators who are very complimentary and appreciative of all the volunteers and the roles they are playing. There has been a real feeling of being part of a team and whether we are seated next to a police marksman in the canteen or are co-ordinating with some of the hundreds of army soldiers providing the security, I have been treated with kindness. The Olympics has really brought the best out of not just the athletes but also everyone involved with them, including the
I will be giving 136 hours of service over 14 days."
Richard Davies is 57 years old and a member of the Merthyr Tydfil Ward, has been a member of the Church for 40 years and is a team leader on the Time Trial events and also a marshall on the road race events.
Richard states, "I have always been involved in sport, cycling and running. Since returning to the the UK 13 years ago, after living for 9 years in the Middle East, as well as participating in running and cycling, and combining the 2 with duathlons, I became involved in cycling as a volunteer."
Richard, a British Cycling Club Coach, Regional Road Race Commissaire and Regional Cyclo Cross Commissaire, has worked on the Tour of Britain, was a member of the Safety Team on The Tour de France a few years ago when the start of the race was in London, commissaried the British Time Trial Championsips when held in Llandileo, Wales and helped organise and run local road races in Wales, including the British Junior Road Race Championships and the 5 day Ras de Cymru. Getting involved with the Road Cycling events at the Olympic Games was just a natural progression for Richard.
Jan Davidson from the Wembley Ward, and a keen former athlete, is working with the Print Distribution team at the Volleyball Tournament at Earls Court, one of the venues within London. "I am blessed to be amongst a fabulous group of people that make up our team, and the spirit of camaraderie has been amazing. The atmosphere in the Stadium is electric, and fans of all the nations taking part bring the place alive. You cannot buy this once in a lifetime experience, it has been worth every ounce of sacrifice and the memories of it will stay with me long into the future."
Elliot Blakemore is a security team entry member for the Olympic Park main gates and the main press office. "I heard the Olympic organising committee (LOCOG) were looking for volunteers and it sounded like a great idea so I applied and just followed through with the process." Elliot recently completed a degree in Acoustics Bsc at Salford University, Manchester, 29 years old and has been attending the Manchester YSA ward, serving as ward mission leader until recently.
"I love volunteering and meeting like minded people who want to serve and enjoy life.
"My experience so far of the Olympics has been fun and I appreciate the opportunity to see everything first hand for a once in a lifetime opportunity and a good story to tell!"
Nicholas Walker, from the Weymouth Ward joined the Church in 1971 and has a role in the Olympics is an Ambassador on the south coast of England. "I am the smile that will welcome the world to Weymouth and Portland for the sailing events and I am really looking forward to it. My first duty was on July 27th at Weymouth on the night of the opening ceremony - Bring on the Games!"
Wendy Milner, is currently volunteering at Old Trafford, Manchester United's football club, giving out uniforms to other volunteers and during the Games will be on the Transport team at Old Trafford for the Olympic football events. She will be welcoming coaches, VIPs and showing them where they need to be.
"I'm really enjoying my volunteering and think it's a fantastic opportunity to help out in the community. I've also been able to share why I got involved in the Olympics thus having missionary conversations!!" Wendy serves in the congregtion as Relief Society President for the area.
Emma Hart is based at Wimbledon for the tennis events as a Games Maker within Event Services as a Mobility team member and is helping spectators who may have difficulties accessing the venue. She is trained to use accessibility lifts, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and be on hand generally to assist. Emma is a member of the Ashford Ward, Canterbury Stake in the South East of England.
"I have always loved the Olympics since I can remember. As soon as I knew the Olympics was coming to London I wanted to be a part of it and not just watch it."
Robert Wharf is working at the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London and is a member of the Bury St Edmunds Ward in the Ipswich Stake. His role is providing security and as an entry team member. "I am at Olympic Park and having a fantastic time volunteering. It is something I will never forget doing."
Adrian Evans was one of the first people to see the Olympic athletes, coaches and officials as they arrived into London's Heathrow Airport prior to the start of the games. A member of the Bristol 1st Ward, Bristol Stake.
"I am an Olympics Volunteer and I will be working at Heathrow Airport assisting Athletes and Officials on arrivals and departures."
Shauna Hichens of the Slough Ward, Staines Stake, was part of the team at
the multi agency communications centre for Eton Dorney, one of the outside London venues where the rowing and canoe sprint events are being held. The team, from the Police, National Health Service and local councils, ensured the details of any incidents such as traffic delays or accidents were quickly publicised.
Laura Parker is on the Events Services team at the Paralympics at the EXCEL building on London's Docklands, mainly ushering people to their seats, scanning tickets and making sure the crowd are in a safe environment. Laura is a member of the Leicester England Stake in the Midlands area of England.
"I am currently an occupational therapy student entering my 3rd year at the University of Northampton. "It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and a chance to be part of something amazing!!! As this was in the summer and I am on uni break I couldn't let this opportunity be missed."
Timothy Kay is Last Mile volunteer and will be directing people to the North Greenwich venue and the O2 arena from the transport hubs (underground train and bus stations) during the Paralympics for the wheelchair basketball. "I volunteered because I thought it would be a good experience. At the time of the interviews I was a chemistry student but I am now working as a print finisher."
Pat Orme, at 68 years, one of the older volunteers, is a member of the Wembley Ward, Watford Stake due to work on the Technology team.
"I have a mild disability and since volunteering I've been diagnosed with Parkinsons disease. I also have a disintegrating disc in my lower spine and can't walk any distance.
This shouldn't be a real problem as there are disabled volunteers in wheelchairs."
Louise Hadfield has been a member of the Church for 3 years from the Poole stake on the south coast of England. "I will be helping out at the Paralympics in Weymouth for the sailing events. I volunteer for the British Red Cross and the organisation was asked to aid the emergency response team. That's how I got the opportunity to volunteer and I'm so excited to help out!"
Tony Twigger, a wayfinder at the Excel building in the Docklands area of London for the Paralympics, Tony will be guiding spectators to the different events taking place: gymnastics, boxing, judo etc. A member of the bishopric at Kettering Ward, Northampton Stake Tony is a previous Community Services Volunteer and is 'excited to be part of such a wonderful worldwide event.'
Nathaniel Chell will be volunteering at the Paralympics and is the bishop of the Stevenage Ward, St Albans Stake.