One of our patients, Susannah Jayes, is a Picture Researcher from London and was fortunate enough (actually, clever enough) to be chosen as an Ambassador for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Her knowledge of British history, her general knowledge of London and her overwhelming ability to enter into the spirit of a mission, earned her a place in the Flying Squad. We thought you would be interested in hearing about her experience.
London Ambassador – “MAGENTA MAGICIANS”
The Olympics and Paralympic Games came to London in 2012 and I joined in, becoming one of an 8,000-strong group of London Ambassadors, whose role was to welcome millions of visitors from around the world and help them to explore London. I have never particularly enjoyed sport, but the Olympics was a great chance to get involved in a once-in-a lifetime global event, right on my doorstep in London. I also think that the term ‘Ambassador’ must have appealed to me (Ferrero Rocher chocolates spring to mind!), so I was delighted when I was selected for the London Ambassadors’ Flying Squad Division (alas no helicopters or planes!). The training consisted of role-playing and quizzes about London and I entered into the Olympic spirit with gusto. During one session, the London Ambassadors even set a World Record for a Treasure Hunt around London landmarks, with 466 volunteers taking part.
In June, my uniform duly arrived – in lovely shades of pink and magenta, complete with a natty straw trilby hat – and in July, as a great bonus, I attended the Opening Ceremony rehearsal at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, where I had a fantastic view of the remarkable spectacle that, a few days later, dazzled the world.
During the Games, I was based at mainly Canary Wharf and the Olympic Stadium. I had the most amazing time, as my fellow ambassadors were such a great bunch, from all walks of life. I made some good friends and I have never laughed so much. We all did our best to welcome everyone, give out maps and help with their questions. One Swedish visitor randomly asked me who Henry VIII’s third wife was. Hopefully my answer of Jane Seymour was correct (my History teacher would have been proud that I actually remembered something from her class!). Among the many great people I met were a British Gold Medal winner from the 1952 Olympic Games and Eddie Izzard, the comedian and actor, who was Chief Games Maker. Eddie was lovely! The weather was hot and sunny, which helped enormously, and all the visitors said how much they enjoyed the Games and how welcoming London had been, so it was really fulfilling to know that I had contributed to London’s huge success.
After the Games were over, I was lucky enough to attend the Olympic and Paralympic Parade on the Mall,where we all had a great time cheering our heroes like Mo Farah, Ellie Simmonds, Jess Ennis and Sir Chris Hoy. What was really special, though, was how much the athletes appreciated the volunteers’ efforts and how they made a point of thanking us all. That made my day!
Mayor Boris Johnson wants the work of London Ambassadors to continue and I recently joined my fellow Ambassadors in Trafalgar Square when NFL American Football came to town. I am so pleased that the Ambassadors will go on, because the camaraderie between the volunteers and their willingness to give up their time to represent London to the world was absolutely marvellous. For me, it was an honour to be a London Ambassador and a welcome break from my work as a picture researcher, which is mostly home-based, with not much personal interaction, so I am really looking forward our next event, whatever that might be. If you should see us in London in the future, please do stop and say hello. We’ll be the ones in pink – you can’t miss us!
Susannah Jayes – www.picture-researcher.com