Being a London Ambassador @ldnambassadors3August 5th, 2012Personal
Way back in September 2011, I found out I qualified as a London Ambassador after travelling to London for the recruitment interview. I was very honored to be one of the 8000 chosen but felt perhaps everyone was invited to take part.
I soon found out that wasn’t the case.
Starting in March I had our first training module, followed up with module two in May and then Module 3 was at our location (Leister Square for me). As Ambassadors, we had attend these three all -day training sessions going over everything from customer service from John Lewis to questions we might receive to how the hierarchy was going to work (line managers, area managers, etc). But most importantly, we were getting to know each other. We didn’t know at the time who was going to be working with whom but it didn’t matter – already we were bonding as London Ambassadors.
In between the training sessions there was a small group of us slowly sharing experiences via twitter. While we received no payments, we did receive a fabulous polyester Pink/Purple uniform, travel card for the Underground and £5 per day for lunch when working. People don’t realize that many of the volunteers, including myself, aren’t based in London and we had to pay out of pocket for our train to and from London for training and we also had to find our own accommodation when we were in London. Being a London Ambassador could not have happened without a very supportive husband Michael and daughter Charlotte and fabulous friend Laura (AboutLondon) who let me stay at her house for 10 days.
One benefit we did have was we had a chance to see the Olympic Opening Ceremony Tech rehearsals on the Monday. For anyone that has watched the Opening Ceremony, you can imagine what a privilege it was to watch that among other volunteers – all feeling like we didn’t deserve it but enjoying every minute of it. Personally I was thrilled to pieces to be there as my host Laura was actually one of the performers and until that night, she kept the surprise of who she was (she was one of the awesome NHS nurses).
Why did I do it?
I knew I had to take part. I knew I wanted to be part of the Olympics.
The running joke was I wanted to take part but didn’t qualify in Synchronize Swimming.
The point was, I wasn’t alone. I would have loved to be a GamesMaker or in the Opening Ceremony but they required more hours of training and as I was travelling from Shropshire, it just wasn’t possible. But on hindsight, I’m so glad I didn’t as I met THE best London Ambassador team in Leicester Square.
The team I worked with everyday, 1-5:30 in Leicester Square, was amazing. There was a small issue our line manager had to deal with straight after debriefing so instead of waiting around we just got on with things. I was partner up with Kourtney who not only is a map maker but she lives in London. Anyone that knows me knows directions aren’t my forte, so it was the perfect partnership. We soon realized directions weren’t a priority, tickets or how to see Opening Ceremony was question of the day. A memory I will take away forever is when a tourist asked us for directions to Waterstones and we all pointed a different direction.
The following 5 days were a mixture of where to purchase things, what to see and do, where events were being held and having our picture taken with the tourist. It was an amazing vibe throughout London and one I wish could have been bottled up. The Leicester Square team worked together flawlessly – one picked up where another couldn’t. Ok, read that as I could never answer a question on my own but always knew who in the team could answer it.
While I usually had a meeting prior to starting work (thank you McDonald’s for providing a changing room for me…), I did sometimes go back to Laura’s wearing the London Ambassador’s hat and jacket. I didn’t get pointing at or laughs, but people THANKING me for volunteering. On the tube. Really. In London.
On one journey, I was chatting with a reporter for the AP. She said she was tired from the 14 hours days but so impressed with the volunteers in London and the spirit they have added to the Games and the city.
‘The volunteers are always smiling’, she said. ‘Of course! We loved what we were doing and would do it all again’.
Ask any volunteer and I’m sure they’ll say the same.
While I was ready to come back home after not seeing my family for 10 days, I truly did leave London with a heavy heart. I met a great group of people on my London Ambassador team and thousands of wonderful tourists.
This has been a memorable week and I’m really grateful to have met such generous, warm people — volunteers and visitors alike. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
Great to see you had a good time whilst doing your job. And grabbing the teamwork initiative by the collar and embracing it, working with your fellow workers.You obviuosly enjoyed it and took pleasure 9Eventually lol) from wearing the uniform.
Thanks for the heads up on your shifts. I am not doing my bit until 28th August and feel like I’m missing out at the moment and everyone is having a wonderful time as it is the Paralympics when I do mine. I hope people are still as enthusiastic then!