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Diary of an Olympics Volunteer, 3

Posted by admin on August 10, 2012

The Knives are out over Spare Tickets!

Only a couple of days to go and it has been such an exciting time for Team GB - an amazing FINAL_SEATS_EMPTY.jpgachievement! As a volunteer I was allocated Head PA for the Irish Team. They are a fantastic bunch of people but it is a real challenge to lead the Irish team when my heart is with Team GB.

When Ireland or GB are performing the support team and spare athletes congregate around our mega screen in the Irish Camp and it's a bit embarrassing when I leap out of my chair and scream support for GB while surrounded by some rather stony-faced Irish colleagues in green tracksuits. With great spirit, however, the Irish do say GB is their no. 2 team – they are very forgiving of our previous sins. And of course, I was genuinely over the moon when Katie Taylor boxed her way to Gold for Ireland!

The highlight of my week was picking up Irish athletes from Pall Mall on Saturday evening after a variety of events. My BMW is flying many Irish flags and logos so, parked up, the car and yours truly were photographed every few seconds by loyal supporters. I then got to drive round London with three athletes trying to text/twitter all their mates while cooling down and stretching. A word of advice: this is not a recommended activity for a crowded car; nor it is particularly easy to change gear around a stretched out leg!

Wearing the uniform around London and the Athletes village, I am constantly asked for spare tickets, the whereabouts of Olympic souvenir shops and directions to just about anywhere. Tom Daley asked me where he could get water (!) while Victoria Pendleton had to be directed to the hairdressers. I was too professional to fall over with excitement, obviously. As for my accredited Olympic Pass, I was offered £1000 for it. Not for sale at any price!

Danny O'Donoghue of the Voice and the band The Script was very excited when I handed over his Irish pins and flags – he is coming to the Irish Team Party today. So, be warned: steer clear of the Irish House in Kings Cross. I think the team is out to sink a thousand litres of Guinness!

Learning for me as an Executive Coach:

I have really gained from being in the 'back office’. I am a supporting the stars and I am running in circles to get it right. All volunteers deserve three cheers for their hard work.
My volunteer team were previously very bonded, and we still all love each other - but the battle for spare tickets has created a bit of a bun fight. The forming, storming, norming and performing must never be rushed.
If there were any further proof needed that praise and encouragement are absolutely the best ways to improve performance of your team at work, look no further than the warm, ecstatic atmosphere created by Team GB fans at events and the new records being set at London 2012.
Plan, plan, plan! Overall GB has created a spectacular event. Behind the scenes logistics and, worst of all, ticket allocation leaves a lot to be desired. To gain tickets for genuine supporters and athletes requires us to work archaic computer systems and send hand-written, pleading notes – the corporates and sponsors have paid for their tickets so there is no revenue loss, but the empty seat issue has been very disappointing, and heartbreaking for many genuine sports fans. Security by G4S continues to be dodgy, by the Army - perfect. So they deserved those last-minute tickets in the empty seats, but come on! We had seven years to get this sorted!
My last spare ticket challenge is the Closing Ceremony – who should attend? Athletes or hangers-on? Guess which group are putting me under pressure!

Simon Laws, simon.laws@impronta.co.uk