Volunteering Wins Gold: Volume 5

There were many different types of volunteers over the London 2012 Games, each of which had a very important role to fulfil. This week we are featuring the blogs of two T3 drivers at the Games. First up is Trevor Salomon, who talks about his ‘awesome’ volunteering experience at the Olympics and the Paralympics…

It’s funny, but during my entire time as an Olympics and Paralympics volunteer driver, I never met anyone who’d actually put forward their name for such a role.

I registered on the LOCOG website back in 2010, requesting to take on any challenge related to my professional discipline as a marketer, meaning event organisation, public relations, media management and the like. Then when I finally got called in for my interview in November 2011, I was asked if I’d be prepared to be a VIP driver and I’m certain upon hearing that three letter acronym plus the promise of driving a brand new BMW, I soon forgot about marketing.

Of course no-one from LOCOG told any of us about the 10 hour shifts or the fact that some would end at 3.30am whilst others would start at 6.30am. No-one told us we’d have to get to grips with the intricacies of London’s road and Games lanes system via a sat nav which in the early days often wouldn’t work and many a time sent us in the wrong direction. I remember clearly being at Wembley Arena one day and requested to go from there to Earls Court with a sat nav which calculated that the optimum route would be via Ilford of all places. On another occasion and with two guests in the car, the sat nav took me to a basement carpark in East London when I needed to be at the Olympic Village.

The training commitment included protocol instructions about interacting with VIP guests, how to use radios and what to say/not to say on the airwaves, and having an advanced driving instructor testing our driving skills which frankly was the most unnerving aspect of all the tuition. Not everyone passed and for some a refresher and the removal of bad driving habits was actually a real necessity.

There were three categories of driver:

T1 drivers had one-on-one relationships with a nominated guest for the entire Games and in effect were personal chauffeurs;

T2 drivers had just 2 guests;

T3 – the category to which I was allocated – formed the vast majority and we spent the entire shift  sitting outside a location (usually a Games venue or hotel) waiting to take accredited guests to their required destination, which in essence needed to be recognised by the sat nav system, although we did on many an occasion take people pretty much wherever they wanted to go. Clients also had the ability to book a car at a specific time provided they did so 4 hours in advance of their need.

It was fascinating having the ‘world’ in the back of the BMW and when I say ‘world’, I mean people from all countries. I never got to drive any celebrities but my passengers included athletes, judges, IOC members, royalty, wheelchair competitors, members of the Tokyo 2020 bid team – and without exception they were all charming, chatty and full of praise for the way London was running the Games and for Londoners in general. Some clients handed out their country pins and I’m pleased to say I have a small collection of these to put away with my uniforms and other Games memorabilia.

No wonder he was so excited – the BMWs look incredible!

Being Jewish and a shul member, the very essence of volunteering is in my DNA so stepping forward to take on a once in a lifetime opportunity like this was really a no brainer. My lasting memory, or magic moment, was when I was parked outside a hotel near Tower Bridge and a family walked past the BMW resplendent in its Games livery and logos. Their little boy – I guess aged around 6 – was beside himself with excitement so I jumped out of the car and asked his parents if they would like to take a picture of him sitting behind the steering wheel. The child was so thrilled, he could barely speak. It made my day and underpinned just how much and in so many ways the Games touched people.

To use an Americanism it was an ‘awesome’ and unique experience to be part of something watched and enjoyed by so many people around the world. That I didn’t get to see any of the sports as a spectator mattered not one jot. No-one can take away the enjoyment and pleasure I derived from being a Gamesmaker and it’s sad it had to come to an end.

Another driver who enjoyed himself was Jon Gordon from Elstree, who tells us his story…

I was a T3 Driver in the Transport Team based in the Park Lane depot, and was responsible for driving members of the Olympic ‘Family’ (IOC members, Heads of Delegations, representatives from the World Anti-Doping Federation, and officials) primarily from their Park Lane hotels to and from sporting venues.

My passengers included the Sports Minister from Kyrgyzstan, two Team GB volleyball players, the wife of the Executive Director of the IOC, the acting Chef de Mission of the Libyan Olympic team and two FIFA linesmen from Australia.

Jon poses with London 2012 mascot Mandeville.

I undertook fourteen 10-hour shifts over a 5 week period (one week either side of The Games). There was a lot of hanging around, waiting for passengers and such, but in the main I thoroughly enjoyed myself and felt a real part of The Games.

Despite having lived in Sydney, before the Olympics there, and having worked in Olympic marketing, I always wished the games could be in London, and to be part of it. My particular highlight was attending the Opening Ceremony dress rehearsal with 10,000s of other Games Makers.

Well, there’s just about time for our opportunities of the week:

KKL Charity Accounts are looking for individuals to speak with our inactive account holders by telephone, within flexible hours, to remind them of the benefits of a holding a KKL charity account and seek feedback as to why they are no longer using their account on a regular basis. We will provide an access line from your home phone to call our users at NO COST TO YOURSELVES.  Volunteers will receive support and training via telephone, electronically and in-house. Pleas e-mail harvey@kkl.org.uk or call 020 8732 6101.

All Aboard Charity Shops are looking for an Amazon Volunteer. If you are computer-literate, you could work one day a week (9:30am-3:30pm) with young adults with special needs and physical disabilities from Langdon, helping them to sell books on Amazon. It is based in Edgware and CRB clearance is required. Contact Arnold Levin on 07754 519 197 or at aabay3a@homail.com, or Carol Marks on 020 8381 1717 or at admin@allaboardshops.com.

Wishing you shana tovah u’metukah – a happy and sweet new year – from all at JVN!

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Categories: Uncategorized

Author:Mike

Hi, I'm Mike, JVN's Youth Co-ordinator and blogger. I'll be blogging about all sorts of issues affecting the volunteering community, with a particular focus on how recent developments might affect the UK Jewish community's volunteers. I'm always interested to read the comments you make. If you have something you want to see in the JVN blog, e-mail me at mike@jvn.org.uk and I'll be happy to talk. And if you're inspired by any of my blogs to volunteer, log on to www.jvn.org.uk and register to find your perfect volunteering opportunity.

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