The Wenlock Olympian Society hosted their 125th games on the gorgeous new fields at William Penny Brooke school**. As a member of the Society, I volunteer to help Paul Hutchinson document (film) the days events. Paul owns the very successful Virtual Shropshire and is the official video-grapher for the games.
As part of the day, we interviewed as many people as we could from Event organisers, President of the Society, car park detail, program sellers and everyone in between. It was a fascinating day to get to listen to the stories that every volunteer had to share.
A few weeks ago, we were told there was a special guest attending – Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport who would be escorted by our Local MP Phillip Dunne. It was already agreed that the Society would have dedicated interview time with him and that Helen, the Society Press Secretary, would interview him first, and I would interview him after.
Then the News of the World scandal hit this week which related to BSkyB. Up until his arrival, we were unsure of how the events of the days would be – would he still arrive? Would we be granted an interview? If yes, would we be limited in what was asked?
When our guests arrived, Peter Thompson, the Society’s secretary (and brilliant time-keeper!) did the initial introduction and asked about the interviews as by now, there were a lot more press than originally projected including several international news agency. Jeremy was more than welcome to be interviewed by anyone on ANY topic. I must admit I was impressed with this.
Paul and I followed Jeremy around as he attended several events, handing out medals and giving inspirational speeches to both parents and the kids involved in the Games. Then it was our time. As we were part of the Society, we were able to interview Jeremy privately, Helen interview Jeremy first and asked brilliant questions regarding Wenlock Olympian and then I was able to ask him about his views on Shropshire [Video of Interview here]. Then Jeremy went outside to be interviewed by the rest of the press. I am not sure what happened here as I was preparing with Paul what our next steps were to be but checking the news, it doesn’t seem like anything earth shattering happened.
We spent the rest of the hour following Jeremy before he had to leave to catch his train. Before he left, I asked permission from the Society if I could ask Jeremy a Library question. They were more than helpful and not only found time for me to ask the question, but ensure I wasn’t bothered by others.
I started by telling Jeremy that I was the one that tweeting him about Libraries and that I would be incredibly mad with myself if I didn’t ask him what he was going to do about the threat of libraries closing. He replied that yes, he has received my tweets and did read them. However, he replied, library issues is something that he can’t get involved with as it’s a legal issue and that local authorities need to work out the issues first before he can get involved. Essentially, he said there was a protocol to follow and that he was following that protocol. I asked him if cared about the libraries to which he replied yes. [See video here]
The interview ended as it had to go. However, Phillip Dunne (MP) came back and I was able to interview him about his work on promoting the Society in Parliament.
It was amazing day, not because of the interview, but because of all the great, inspirational and wonderful volunteers that work to keep the Wenlock Olympian Games alive every year. They have had the World’s Eyes thrown on them since Wenlock was named one of the Mascot for the London 2012 and they have held their heads high with dignity and professionalism that they should be proud of. I’m proud to say I’m a member of this brilliant Society.
**For those who don’t know, William Penny Brookes is the Wenlock doctor that brought the modern day Olympics back. See the Wenlock Olympian Society website for more information – it really is a fascinating story.