The Huntingdonshire London 2012 Gamesmakers
THEY made the Olympic Games: 70,000 volunteers – known as Games Makers – staffed venues, directed the lost, ferried dignitaries from A to B and generally ensured London 2012 went without a hitch.
They came from every corner of the British Isles ... including Abbots Ripton.
Jean Burbidge, 58, “put on hold all normal responsibilities at home” after hearing she’d been selected for the prestigious role of Games Maker, and headed to London armed only with a suitcase.
“The knowledge I acquired during an army childhood abroad, some basic French language comprehension and 24 years of living in London equipped me for this once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she explained.
The former Nightingale nurse was active during both the Olympic and Paralypmic Games where she had to respond to some very challenging situations.
“I was volunteering in a team of four, which involved reacting quickly to situations that called for extreme resourcefulness,” she said. “It’s not every day you get asked to find a garment printer on a Saturday evening, or an alteration tailor on a Sunday morning.”
Among Mrs Burbidge’s most memorable moments was sharing in the birthday celebrations of eight members of the Tunisan Olympic team – which called for a bespoke birthday cake with Arabic greetings and a giant box of Hotel Chocolat chocolates (with the alcoholic ones removed!)
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She said: “With the weakest language skills, I spent more time helping those with the best command of English – the media. I had the honour of accompanying a gold medal winner to the BBC’s Arabic studios for a live broadcast.”
Her efforts have earned her a letter of thanks from the Prime Minister.
“My final days were spent as a girl Friday for two Tunisian TV presenters,” she added. “I chauffeured them around in the official BMW car and while off duty I could bring it back to Huntingdon.
“You may have spotted me refilling in my purple and orange uniform at Brampton Hut!”