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News

Senior volunteers contribute to the success of London 2012

22/08/2012
Senior volunteers contribute to the success of London 2012

The 2012 Olympics were made possible by up to 70,000 volunteers, or Games Makers, who gave up their time to help welcome the world to London.

Many of those volunteers were seniors, citizens over 60 years old who performed a wide variety of specialist and generalist roles – whether running information desks, helping out on the field of play, checking tickets or working in the medical services team. Some were assigned to particular specialist roles, but most were simply there to point out directions, manage bus queues or welcome visitors.

Seniors volunteered in London 2012 for very different reasons, but mainly because they wanted to demonstrate they can be as active and motivated as any young person.

Oliver McCarthy, 71, who worked for 40 years on the railways, explained to The Guardian that his motivation was "to do something, not just sit. I have been retired eight years. Most of my colleagues were lucky if they got a year and a half of their pension. They didn't know what to do with themselves. The spark just went from them. You have to stay connected to people..."

Sarah Salem, a 63 years old Londoner, admits that nothing could stop her from going to the Olympics. Salem qualified as an Olympic Delivery Authority tour guide, and started showing groups around the park even before it opened. She was the smiley face who guided "hospice groups, people from Stoke Mandeville suffering spinal injury, the IOC from the USA, the family of Jacques Rogge, the Olympic president. I mean: imagine!"

Another senior volunteer, Prem Fing, says: "The way I look at it, this is the last Olympics for me. I am 70 now, so I wanted to be involved. I volunteered in Newham after I retired as a civil servant”.

Many of these Game Makers will continue working at the Paralympic Games, which begin on August 29.

Click here to read the complete feature written by Tim Adams in The Guardian.

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