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"Our Greatest Team Parade -London 19th September 2012"
“OUR GREATEST TEAM PARADE – London 10th September 2012”
From Yinnon Ezra MBE – “Our man at the Games”
When I had the e mail about this event I originally ignored it. This was not out of disloyalty or laziness, but more to do with the fact that although thoroughly enjoying my time on the Olympic Park as a “Gamesmaker” I had said my goodbyes and moved on. The same e mail asked if I wanted to be part of a ballot for tickets to a space being specifically put aside for volunteers in the Mall – given I never win anything I pressed the button. When a further e mail arrived advising me that I had won an invite – there was no choice – I had to go to London! This was further re-enforced both by an e mail from Tom who informed me that the Water Polo (AWC) “Gamesmaker” “Facebook” pages were buzzing with ideas about meeting up on Parade Day and my wife and daughter drove home the uniqueness of the event. I suppose subconsciously I did want to go – it was probably the request to “wear the uniform with pride” – that may have put me off. It’s one thing wearing it in the Olympic Park where you’re doing a job of work; it’s another, walking through your own neighbourhood and the streets of London. But as the day dawned I put the purple, red, uniform on, probably for the last time and headed for Winchester Train Station.
Since my last blog, done on the 13th August after the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, life has crowded out much thinking time or nostalgia for the sunny Stratford days. We have been abroad for a week, been to a fantastic Muslim wedding, met up with some ex-colleagues at our usual haunt in Winchester, caught up on our Granddaughter and drifted into watching the Paralympics. The latter exploded onto our screens waking me out of this domestic stupor- stopping me in my tracks, demanding attention –I was hooked completely! It was absolutely, wonderful, enlightening, magical, educating, and emotional – all of us, witnessing human beings achieve mind boggling things. I knew little about the origins of the Paralympics, its history, organisation or its personalities giving it only a passing thought, the last eleven days has changed this forever! I could go on – but the enduring feelings I am left with are humility and enormous pride in what Team GB (including ALL the other Teams at these Games) have achieved! On arriving at Waterloo I was soon aware of many others in the “Gamesmaker” purple – in fact thousands dressed in this uniform - I felt a little less conspicuous! I walked over to the Mall to find a good spot – soon striking up conversations with others – Mike from Exeter, another a woman who drove some of the VIPs around and the young American who quickly pointed out that Eddie Izzard was about, prompting me to jump round find him and take a close up photograph. It was quite a long wait- but soon the Big Screen near to us informed us that the “Parade” was near. The two bright red lions with the sound of the band ,followed quickly by white trucks pulling double deck platforms full of people dressed in the blue and white of Team GB.
Yes they were all there, many with medals round their necks – waving pointing mouthing “thank you” to us below. They really seemed pleased to be there, enjoying the opportunity, the moment, the informality, relief – float after float came by with me trying to take photographs of everyone. The athletes, from both Games, with their coaches, TV presenters, some I did not recognise were using their mobile phones to take photographs of us! Smiles, cheering, happy noise everywhere – what really struck me was how much younger they all looked -TV can sometimes be really revealing but can also disguise the true appearance of people. I am sure we will see many of them again!
The air was full of noise with helicopters, followed by other aircraft then joined by a spectacular fly past of the “Red Arrows” – the crowd around me started to move up towards the Victoria Memorial for the “speeches”. I had had some texts that the “ACW Crew” had arrived in a Bar in Victoria so began to make my way through the park. When I did recognise a few others from the team – we greeted each other like long lost friends and proceeded to weave our way through the security. I suggested we may want to stay and listen to the speeches but there were no takers! We wandered on past the Ministry of Justice when we were stopped by a young woman who was Esther Addley of The Guardian Newspaper – would we stop for a quick chat – we did as she was friendly and genuine. Our exchange was very open and natural. On reading the newspaper this morning she has been very fair although the limitation on space has probably squeezed the quotes of others out of the text. Random or what! We walked on soon finding some of our colleagues at the bar – they showed us some of the excellent close-up photographs they had taken – in the end they seem to have found a better spot and even managed to march in the parade for a mile or so. It was good to meet up, many stories about, the week’s in-between, much news, noise , laughter – lets go for a meal – on we walked, found a pub , ate and then it was time go. Some will certainly stay in touch; others will watch perhaps content as spectators others, will soon be absorbed into the wider ebb and flow of life.
A “once in a lifetime opportunity” much enjoyed - perhaps telling us more about the warmth of who we really are-all we need is the time and a genuine truthful opportunity!