Sunday, 9 September 2012

Paralympics Day 9 - buggies and a big win

Yesterday I was allocated Eton Manor gate and therefore I have collected the full set of team colurs/areas. I have now done blue, green, red, yellow, orange, pink and black - these comprise the four gates and the four pedestrian zones (the eagled eyed will have noticed 7 colours and 8 gates/areas, this is because victoria gate is staffed out of the world square pedestrian zone). I hope you are paying attention there will be a test.
Eton Manor is another really quiet gate apart from when coach parties arrive and then it can be quite manic. Today we had a party of 130 children arrive and then leader of the group presented us with a stack of 130 tickets in one stack! So we had to get the organised into form groups hand out the tickets then scan them all. They appeared to be a couple of tickets short but rather than hold them up for another 10 minutes we told them (we probably miscounted) and if so there might be someone who didn't get in to see an event but we didn't want to hold them up for that.
That was the extent of the rush and the gate then became very quiet once again. So it was time for some fun and games. We had a paper aeroplane competition which one of security guards easily won with a brilliant throwing technique. Then I persuaded the mobility guys to let me have a go on one of the scooters (picture left) which was great fun.
So the morning was almost over and the long slog through to the afternoon was ahead we the day became unforgetably brilliant. My name was chosen in the stay lottery and I was told I had won a ticket to the Olympic Stadium. So I ran almost all the way to the stadium (over 1.5 miles from Eaton Gate) to enjoy about an hour in the stadium - I'll write more about my stadium visit another time.
Coming out of the stadium I had some lunch then made it back to the gate just in time for the end of my shift. All in all a pretty good day.
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Saturday, 8 September 2012

Paralympics Day 8 - what a mans got do when a horse has a poo

Another day, another new area to be assigned to. This time it was Street Market, the area around the basketball arena and velodrome.

We were meeting and greeting again which consisted mainly of people going to see murderball (otherwise known as wheelchair rugby).

Up this part of the park is the Park Live venue, a large area of landscape gardens with a massive screen in the middle showing all the latest events from around the different venues. Up on the hill of this area are the three "agitos" (pictured left) which is the symbol of the Paralympics. Agito is latin for "I move" and the three curves represent the main colours of most nations of the world.
Several highlights today for me:
  • Going up the Orbit (more on this at the end of the week)
  • Getting to see inside the Basketball Arena for 15 minutes (see first picture)
  • Being swanked again (more on this at the end of the week)
  • Being on poo duty (more details below)

Poo duty consisted of standing astride any horse poo that had been deposited on the walkways so our lovely visitors don't get a nasty surprise! Suddenly I was surprisingly popular and a lightning conductor for all sorts of puns and comments -"was that you?", "could you not wait?", "that's a good job you've got there"

As you may be able to see in the picture (right) I was at the head of a long line of poo. This is an occupational hazard of having the mounted police on site and patrolling the Olympic Park.

It was yet another incredibly hot and draining day out in the sun and with what seemed like hundreds of schools visiting the park a really busy one. 

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Thursday, 6 September 2012

Paralympics Day 6 & 7 - Night & Day

So it was back to back shifts, last night and this morning and unbelieveably I am still awake!

My one and only night shift was last night (Wed) and I was once again on Stratford gate. Once I was on post there was a steady stream of punters slowly rising to the peak between 5-7pm for people arriving for the start of the swimming and athletics. After 7pm the numbers plummeted and in no time at all half of our lanes were closed and we were sent off for dinner. Upon my return at 8:30pm there remained one gate open on our half of the entrance which I manned for the final half hour.

This time scanning tickets I had several scans come up showing the ticket had been used before (the person had come into the park and then left and was attempting to return later which isn't allowed). For a few of these it was clear the people were just trying it on and they just slopped off. Some had either been told something incorrect or not listened to what they were told and we had to just get them escorted to the box office. A couple of them, just two cases, had geniune reasons for leaving the park and after checking their tickets and refering to the team leader we were able to sort these people out and let them through.

It can get quite heated trying to explain these rules and that we have to deny people access so I am glad I didn't have too many and that there was always professional backup (the paid, trained event stewards) available.

The fun part of the evening was saying goodbye to people at the end of the day and this eventually morphed into the Games Makers creating a 37 strong line of high-fivers for people to run along getting as many high-fives as they could. This was a great way to send people off home and everyone from 3 to 90 loved it.

So after a rubbish nights sleep I made my way back to the Olympic Park and onto to my next shift in Worlds Square next the worlds largest excuse for a restaurant (sorry I mean one of our proud Olympic sponsors - McDonalds).

Today was a mixture of access control (into the workforce area), meeting and greeting and crowd and queue control. World Square is one of those places that is quite quiet up to lunchtime and then crazy for the next couple of hours.

We had in Yasmin (aka Yasmagic) probably our best team leader to date. She had that great mixture of authority, fun, calm assurance, enthusiasm and care for the team. Oh and did I say she made me unofficial sub team assistant deputy leader!

So I am down to my final three days...   it'll soon be Christmas.

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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Paralympics - Getting down with kids

Today as I am doing a late shift (1pm-12am) I had the opportunity to talk to my daughter's primary school class all about being a Games Maker.

About a third of the class had been to either the Olympics or Paralympics and like most schools they have been talking about the games and getting involved in many different ways.

It was great to be able to tell them a little bit about what it is like being one of the thousands of volunteers who makes the games happen and what was involved in becoming a Games Maker.

I told them I really enjoyed the experience and it has been really inspiring and every part of me, except my legs, knees and feet, is so pleased that I got involved in this once in a lifetime experience.

I hope that in some small, tiny way I will have encouraged them to volunteer to be part of something for the benefit of others.

I left the teacher with one of the Games Maker pins that we are given and she is going to award it to one of the children who shows courage in adversity which seems very fitting.

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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Paralympics - Crowds, fine dining & crazy ladies

So today is a day off for me, a chance to give my knees and feet a rest, catch up with rest of the world and to reflect on the last five days at the Paralympics.

I've been on most of the teams now and done most of the jobs that the Event Services Team are in place to do. Generally I have loved everyday, with a few ups and downs as you would expect. So in a lot of ways the Paralympics has been everything I expected but there has been a few surprises

The Crowds - once the athletics events started in the Olympic Stadium the crowds in the park were incredible. With the Aquatic Centre, Velodrome and Stadium all sold out that meant well over 100,000 coming to these venues alone. Seeing the crowds streaming towards you is a site to behold.

The Food - everyday we get two meals for our 10 hours of serving and the revelation is that the meals are really rather good. I have eaten Moroccan lamb tangine, fish pie, lasagne, lancashire hotpot and pork and apple pasty for lunch and everyone of these was really good. Actually apart from the lasagne which was very nice everything else was superb and would have been acceptable fayre in any restaurant. Breakfast is perfect, bacon rolls or ham and cheese croisants.

Crazy Ladies - there are many entertainers around the Olympic Park - brass bands, morris dancers, circus style entertainers, hula hoop girls and then there is Miss Timed & Miss Judged (pictured). These two 'slimline ' ladies are international adjudicators that have been roaming the park awarding special gold medals to spectators who have those special talents that these ladies have a particular gift to spot. I met these lovely ladies in the canteen and they gave me my own gold medal so I feel proud they saw the talent hidden in me.

There is still so much I could write about but that's all for now folks. Tomorrow I have my first night shift 1pm-12am then straight into my next morning shift at 6:30am the next day.

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Monday, 3 September 2012

Paralympics Day 5 - if your names not down you're not coming in

Today I reached the halfway point at the Paralympics and so tomorrow I have a day off - I will be getting up at 6:45am, that's a two and quarter hour lie-in woo-hoo!
Back to today and it was a scorcher, the hottest day so far and for most of it I was out in the open sunshine, meeting and greeting folks in Britannia Row (just by the Copper Box venue were Handball was played in the Olympics and now Goalball is being played in the Paralympics).
There were many highlights today:
  • A ride on a mobility buggy - to get us to our area a bit quicker (4 mins on the buggy, 15 mins walking - see the video above)
  • Doing access control (see picture and details below)
  • Getting on the lifeguard/umpire chairs again this time with a megaphone (of sorts)
  • Meeting some crazy ladies in the canteen (more another day)

Access control was very quiet, serious and a little bit of fun (and a nice rest really).

I was posted to one of the behind the scenes areas so the traffic coming in and out of this back stage area was very light. Some of the areas, especially the check point into the workforce canteen area is super busy with probably hundreds if not thousands through there every hour.

In the hour and a half I was on duty there were probably about a hundred in total coming through the gate. If they didn't have ALL, HBA, OPK, GB or CDM on their accreditation pass they were not getting in.

The day ended with a stint back on the main walkway directing people to "Stay on the left please". After an hour of this my voice was a little hoarse but I think I made a difference to the traffic flow despite not having a megaphone this time.

Oh and by the way this was the pink team, just black and yellow for the full set!

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Paralympics Day 4 - back in Orbit

It's 4:58am as I write this and I have 15 minutes to get dressed and head off for my next shift having had a luxurious 5 hours sleep so I am looking forward to my day off tomorrow.

Yesterday I was back at Orbit Circus like on Day 1, the difference being their were five times the number of people so that meant hundreds (I think I counted around 120+) of family groups that I took photos of against the backdrop of the stadium. There were hi-fives a plenty and we even did a game of 'London Bridge is falling down' with a family!

I was paired up with another great person, Raisa (pictured below), who was great fun and had come down from Manchester to serve. To make the time more fun we had little competitions with each other like to see who could give away their Olympic Park maps the quickest - never have people been provided with maps so rapidly!

I also got to have a shift on one of the lifegaurd chairs which give you a great view of the crowds and is an excellent way to interact with people - waving at them, having a little chat, dancing to the music (I showed all my disco moves, oh yes).

So for those who were wondering what team Orbit Circus is it is Red. So no winners of the bonus points.

It is now 5:12 must get dressed and go so you tomorrow (or later today!)

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Saturday, 1 September 2012

Paralympics Day 3 - Here come the crowds!

Day 3 at the Paralympics was the busiest yet and probably the busiest of the whole games. All the activities are running, and we expected well over 100,000 in the park.

The perfect day then to be rostered onto the busiest entrance point, Stratford Gate. From opening time at 7:30am through to the end of my shift at 3pm there were people coming through. Sometimes it was only a slow stream of maybe 1 or 2 people a minute through to the peak periods when we had between 15-25 people a minute. In the first fifteen minutes I scanned more tickets than I did in three hours at Victoria Gate yesterday.

Because we were solidly working from 7:30-11:30am we missed out on breakfast, so when we got to eat lunch it was consumed in seconds!

The best part of today was being paired with Stuart the guy I met on the first morning. We have a similar sense of humour and we get on like a house on fire. As in all things in life people are what make things special and in this regard and in his own words Stuart is "awesome".

I did have one complaint today though. Occassionally people would come through the security check think they were done and start striding into the park. We would have to stop them and scan their tickets, usually this was all fine. On one occassion a couple of women were rushing past us and as well as saying "Excuse me" I, with one finger, touched one of the women on the arm to attract her attention. She duely gave me her tickets and then said that I didn't have to push her to get her attention! I did the right thing and apologised for my action, scanned her tickets and wished her a great day. I probably scanned 500+ tickets so having one tetchy person out of over 500 is a pretty good ratio.

So where to tomorrow? I have been on green, red, yellow and blue teams with black, pink and orange still to try (I could get red as it isn't marked on my card even though I have done it).
What colour do you think I will get? If you guess correctly then you will get big bonus points towards my paralympic souviner competition.

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