The Tales and Travels of Taylor Made PA – My Olympic Journey
First Published 24 July 2019
A Career Highlight
I spent over 10 years as a Travel Agent and then over 12 years as a Corporate PA. With time in Professional Sport too. But my career highlight took me by surprise and it was a volunteer role at probably the greatest event London and the UK has ever staged.
Like all Londoners and most of the UK, on the 6th July 2005 I was excited to hear that my home town had been granted the 2012 Olympic Games. I celebrated alongside David Beckham and the Nation as the announcement was made. What a spectacle it was going to be if we got it right.
Then we quickly came back down to earth when the Terror Attacks took place on 7th July. I’d been close to getting caught up in them until a cancelled meeting meant I was working from home that morning. I could have so easily been on a Tube to Aldgate.
Starting the Journey
My Olympic journey started in 2011 and my friend asked if I’d applied to be a Games Maker, At that stage I hadn’t even considered it. But she convinced that being part of it would be an amazing experience. Something I’d regret not doing if I didn’t. How right was she… but don’t tell her I said that!!
So, on a wet, cold and miserable afternoon in November 2011 I headed for my interview at London’s Excel Centre. My magical journey was underway. I’d been selected to be Interviewed for an Event Services role, although my interview took place on a Drivers Selection date. I was tempted to defect to driving because they made it sound so great!
Becoming a Games Maker
Early in 2012 the news came through. I’d been successful. I had been selected to be a Games Maker in Event Services for the Equestrian that was to be held at the beautiful Greenwich Park. It was one of the first times that the Equestrian Teams had been based in the host city and be able to be close to all the action and even stay at the Olympic Village.
The lead up to the Games, didn’t always feel smooth. My invite for the initial training didn’t arrive. Although eventually I spent my day at the Curzon Cinema in Central London being trained with other Games Makers from a number of areas. We then headed over to Uniform Warehouse near to the new Olympic Stadium to be kitted out in our new Adidas Kit. The trainers were so comfortable. I now have 3 pairs!
Then the rain started… would the Games be a wash out? Would the English Summer let us down? And in early July I headed over to Greenwich Park, in my wellies, for my on site training and venue visit. OMG, was Greenwich Park even going to be ready? Being in a Public Park we had temporary stands and seating and they weren’t even in place yet. I was worried… but I shouldn’t have been!
As part of our experience we were invited to the technical rehearsal of the Opening Ceremony to give us a sneak peak of the amazing spectacle Danny Boyle had created. It didn’t blow me away at the time. But a lot of special effects and VTs were kept back to keep the secrets. They made all the difference! And HM The Queen! Just WOW!
The night of the opening ceremony, for which I didn’t have tickets, I spent at Hyde Park. My friend, who had been selected as a Games Maker at Lea Valley for the Canoeing, and I headed to a Special Concert that was being held. Four bands representing each of the home nations, Duran Duran for England, Stereophonics for Wales, Paolo Nutini for Scotland and Snow Patrol for Northern Ireland. The concert was run in conjunction with the Open Ceremony to ensure we saw all the highlights and we had the Red Arrows fly over the park on their route to the Olympic Stadium.
The Games Maker Experience
My first shift was the Sunday and as I walked down the down the tube station steps at 5.45am that morning the platform was full of Games Makers! We all excitedly exchanged details of who was based where and from that moment on I lived in a bubble of the Olympic Games.
The sun had come out and the whole experience just blew me away. It was quite simply the best thing I have ever done. Without doubt my proudest moment. Just to have been even a small part of the greatest show on earth held in the greatest city in the world. I laughed, I cried, I watched, I learned and I LOVED IT!
Within 20 minutes of my first shift we had the Royal Family arrive to watch Zara Phillips compete in the Team GB Eventing Team and went on to win Team Silver with the Princess Royal presenting their medals and giving her girl a spontaneous hug! I watched the presentation as a Guard of Honour to the Army Soldiers who were in charge of raising the winning flags for the National Anthem. I cried with the emotion of it all.
The memories and the magic just continued to flow. Team GB securing Team Gold in Show Jumping – the exhilaration of watching Peter Charles finish his clear round to the sheer delight of Nick Skelton as he did, knowing they had finally won Team Gold. Then the sheer beauty of watching Charlotte Dujardin and the dancing wonder horse that is Valegro storm the Dressage winning Team and Individual Gold alongside her trainer and mentor, the legendary Carl Hester and Uthopia. And the incredible Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris with their stunning The Lion King routine.
At Greenwich Park we also hosted the Modern Pentathlon and the last medal of the 2012 Games meaning I was still in Greenwich for the closing ceremony and squeezed into the Naval colleague with my fellow Games Makers to watch on the big screen. The Spice Girls spectacular and my childhood musical hero, George Michael.
Doing it all again for the Paralympics
I loved my experience so much that when I was asked if I would be interested in coming back for the Paralympics I jumped at the chance. I begged stole and borrowed more time off from work to do it. So two weeks after the Olympics ended I was back in Greenwich Park for the Paralympics.
If the Olympics blew me away the Paralympics inspired me to do and be better. I was in awe of these incredible athletes. Riders with injuries and conditions of a variety of levels, all pushing themselves to be the best and it introduced me to an Equestrian discipline I had never watched before.
All young children that ride should look up to these riders for inspiration. Sophie Christiansen, Sophie Wells, Natasha Baker, Lee Pearson. They are the happiest, inspiring and incredible athletes I have met and I loved watching and being inspired by them. I can’t wait to watch them in Tokyo! Especially now that the Paralympics have been confirmed as a Crown Jewel in Sport and therefore will be aired on “free to view” television. Once again allowing these incredible athletes to Inspire a Nation. #TeamGB
That was my Olympic journey and Career Highlight. Now I’d love to hear yours.
To book a Discovery Call and see how Taylor Made PA can help you find the 25th hour in the day – Click Here and book in today!
Until next time…