London Montage

Archives for July 2012

London Team Ambassadors

On 27 July 2010, i.e. two years to the date of the Olympics opening ceremony, Mayor Boris Johnson launched a scheme to recruit about 8000 people to become London Ambassadors.  They would be available at key sites around London to provide an additional resource to welcome visitors to London (both from overseas and the UK), in conjunction with other partners such as Visit London and transport operators.  The scheme runs from 9 July 2012 until after the Paralympics, although about one-third of the sites will not be open during the transition period between the end of the Olympics (12 August) and start of the Paralympic Games (29 August).  There will be 43 sites, including all London airports, mainline rail stations, the Southbank,, The Royal Parks, Trafalgar Square etc.  Here you will find the volunteers manning information “pods” which may be kiosks, desks or concertina style information panels – all in the distinctive Team London branding.  You will also see some mobile (electric) cars around  too.     You may already have spotted some of the information points which were set up in central London during the Diamond Jubilee weekend., but the first one scheduled to open is at the London Media Centre in Westminster.

The scheme has offered other offshoot opportunities, e.g. using the knowledge gained to work towards achieving further qualifications such as City and Guilds Level 2: Award in understanding stewarding at spectator events, or NVQ in Spectator Safety Level 2 and WorldHost Certificate. Vital “Heartstart” training has also been made available.  Additional “perks” were tickets for the Saracens-Harlequins rugby union match at Wembley Stadium, some complementary theatre tickets and an opportunity to obtain tickets in a ballot to attend a rehearsal of the opening ceremony – as well as provision of a uniform (though some may have doubts about the latter being a benefit!).  After the Olympic programme has been completed, Ambassadors have been told there will be some follow-up event(s) where their services will be required – including tree planting, but further details are as yet unknown.

Volunteers were used for the first time in 1948 when, for the second time, London was the host city for the Games – referred to as the Austerity Games, post WWII; so the volunteer programme is coming home to where it all began; therefore, this is the third time that London has hosted the summer Games, the first city to do so in the modern Olympics era.

 

Diary of a Games Maker – All Systems GO!

The giant Olympic rings are miraculously suspended from Tower Bridge ready to be raised in tandem with the bridge.  Logos are on the public transport systems, local Council ompetitions have produced Olympic signage popping up in towns all over the country: ‘ All Systems Go’ for tonight’s Opening Ceremony!

As a Games Maker, I visited the (very large) warehouse near Canning Town around the end of June to collect the various items of uniform which will enable members of the Games Maker team to be visible to the unsuspecting public.  The operation was well-organised, enabling us to be fitted for trainers, trousers, shirts and jackets which, along with other useful items such as a backpack, the inevitable baseball cap and socks, were neatly packed in a large (reusable) black bag.  “Check out” took place to ensure that all items were there, then onto collect the Oyster Card.  Fortunately for me the warehouse was only about 200 yards from the nearest DLR station.

My last day of preparation (as well as revising the handbook) will be a half day of on-site venue training during the week of the opening ceremony.

My shifts have been allocated (with a start time of 0800 hours most days, and 0830 hours at the weekend); the shifts cover 7 hours each day.  Also, I have tickets for a couple of the Olympic events  which is making the experience all too real.

There is now within me a growing sense of anticipation of history in the making through this contribution to The Greatest Show on Earth in this millennium to date!

By 12 August I will probably be ready for extended rest and relaxation on another holiday and the opportunity to review the memorable, once in a lifetime experience reflecting on the undoubted success of London 2012 and my good fortune to be such an active part of it; not just a spectator.

Andrea from the Jubilant Commonweath Choir shares being part of the River Pageant

At 10.00 am breakfast of pastries, fruit, tea and coffee was served and at 11.00 am the Silver Bonito departed from the London Eye as part of the pageant flotilla.  Lunch was provided at 1.00 pm.  As we travelled along the River we sang to warm up for the pageant.  Our boat was among 1000 plus boats taking part. There were 10 musical boats (vocal and instrumental) carrying bands/choirs/orchestras!  We sang a specially commissioned song composed by Orlando Gough to poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s poem ‘Common Wealth’; as well as a Welsh love song ‘Lisa Lan’, Scarborough Fair, ‘Jubilero’, Gaelic dance music, a piece by Henry VIII ‘Pastime with good company’, some other Tudor music, and a selection of other lighter pieces.  The pageant began at 2.30 pm from Battersea Bridge passing along 13 bridges. We performed for almost 2 hours and ended at King Edward VII Memorial Park, past Tower Bridge.

It was wonderful to see HM The Queen, Prince Philip and family on the Royal Barge, along with the crowds on the bridges and along the Thames River enjoying the Pageant. It was a deeply moving and uplifting experience and we sang our hearts out with great joy on the top deck of the boat. Our relatives received privileged passes to view the Pageant from the Albert Bridge. They got a great view and were well equipped for the rainy weather.

Andrea is top right of the picture

At the end we enjoyed a lovely party on the lower desk of the boat. We received a certificate for our participation and recently we also received CDs of our songs at rehearsals and the actual recording at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant – Sunday 3 June 2012.

Our friends and relatives saw us all over the world.   Since our choir performed at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant we have been invited to participate in other events.

The great memories will remain with us forever.

Andrea David-Hugh-Kong

London 2012 – Members Involved as Volunteers

Big Ben will chime 40 times in three minutes on Friday as part of a mass bell-ringing event marking the start of the Olympics:

  • It is believed to be the first time the bell has rung outside its regular schedule since 15 February, 1952   On that occasion, it tolled every minute for 56 strokes for the funeral of King George VI.
  • Friday’s event will be part of an art project encouraging everyone across the UK to ring a bell at 08:12 on Friday.
  • It was conceived by Turner Prize-winner Martin Creed, who has called the event Work No. 1197: All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes.
  • Organisers hope it will set a world record for the largest number of bells rung simultaneously.
  • For its part, Big Ben will have to be rung by hand, unlike the hourly chimes, which are automated.

Do keep following the blogs for more detail on  London PA Network members as volunteers:  Games Makes and Team London Ambassadors.

 

 

Renaissance Hotel, St Pancras International – Interesting Facts

The magnificent ceiling at the top of the Grand Staircase
  • All the apartments on the top floor have been purchased by private buyers for between £450,000.00 and £10million.
  • The Royal Suite is now an apartment but used to be the hotel ballroom, the most expensive apartment in the hotel, and is rented out at £10,000 a night!
  • There are 650 fireplaces in the hotel and some of the length of flue has been made into air-conditioning ducts, so making them serviceable again.
  • The original Axminster carpet on the landing was made in one piece on a giant loom that is now housed in a museum inHalifax.  The carpet now in situ is an exact replica except it is woven in sections and stitched together.
  • When the hotel was built, the corridors were designed to be wide enough so the Victorian ladies in their wide skirts and bustles could pass each other in the corridor comfortably.
  • The café area used to be the taxi rank; the cabs would drive right up to the booking office so you could jump out and buy your ticket.  Now it is the perfect place to ‘spot the celebrity’ as famous people will often sit there with their friends drinking coffee.
  • The Gilbert Scott restaurant is run by celebrity chef, Marcus Wareing.
  • St Pancras Renaissance Hotel was voted the Number One Hotel in the UK published in the Sunday Times Magazine’s 2011 Top 100 Hotels in the World.

Finally, if you are organising an overnight stay for your football team prior to an important match, do not book them into the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.  Every team that has stayed there prior to a match has lost. .  You have been warned!

Linda Sargent, LDS Virtual Services