2012 – Retrospective: Part 3 (London 2012 – Preperation @ LHR)

Previously: Part 2

So where were we then? Lets quickly recap…

I signed up to volunteer for the London 2012 Olympic games in 2010, I met the requirements and passed my interview in 2011/2012, I have started the training process early in 2012 and It’s June now and It’s getting serious, its time for my Venue tour. My “venue” is London Heathrow Airport…

Airfield at LHR

So we left off with me arriving for training and later on a venue tour at LHR, It all went well, a lot of the process at the start of the day was security related… We don’t get it any more/less than any other staff member or visitor to the airport, and rightfully so. As we would be going “Air side” during the tour (as this is where my office and work is located) we bring our passports to hop over the border just like any normal passenger (although the need to carry a passport will be replaced with a special ID later on) We have already had various security tests, training and a mind bogglingly thorough background check outside of LHR just to make it to this point. My role was very unique for a games maker in this respect as we are operating in someone else’s private property unlike most other staff/volunteers and it just so happens to be likely the most heavily guarded and secure place in the country!

Quickly I realise more than ever that many aspects of security were going to be a big part of the work ahead. For this reason alone I didn’t take any photo’s inside the buildings other than a some snaps of the sky/airfield, the (incredibly fun)shuttle trains and a couple of portraits of me that you will see later on. It wouldn’t of been right for me to abuse the trust that I was granted to be in an incredible place surrounded by incredible athletes and to be taking photos of everything like a tourist, I was here to work and show the world what we have got! I felt extremely privileged to be part of the games and for my role.
I do admit it was painful at times to be in incredible places and situations that I wish I could capture in a photo, but I couldn’t, so I’m just left with the memories in my minds eye, and its actually made my experiences a bit more romantic and unique for me being that way actually.

Anyway.. let’s continue.

So, what actually is my role at LHR then? Well all is explained during my first day at airport  I was going to be part of the technology team supporting the I.T/Technology paid staff and organisations based there (ATOS, Acer, BT and LOCOG)  I would be supporting them on their duty’s and more specifically for me helping keep an extremely important couple aspect of the games operation at the airport up and running at all times: Accreditation and the systems running the Welcome Desks & offices for the transport team.

Transport and welcome desk staff relied on their systems to help them shuttle the endless V.I.P’s, athletes, teams, press, associated family’s, visitors and the occasional world leader out to their hotels and/or venues for the duration of the games.
For the accreditation side of things that was the system that produced the laminated document for everyone who had anything to do with the games would be issued with. You had to wear it as your identification and it showed your clearance to perform your duties at the games whoever you were, be it Usian bolt entering the track at the Olympic stadium, or a member of staff giving you directions in the park and even me working at Heathrow! we were all equal in this respect! You may recognise the actual accreditation documents as the white A5 documents everyone had around their necks on the colourful lanyards! For some athletes it also acted as their visa and thus allowed entry to the country so this was serious business on many levels.

The accreditation document I am talking about.

All in all these systems needed to look after tens of thousands people who need to be processed and looked after in some way shape or form by technology managed by my team in the coming weeks. Gulp

So we went for the tour of the venue, Terminal 4 to be exact, this is where my office was located. My actual duty would see me across all of the 4 terminals (Yes there are 5 terminals, but T2 was and still is being reconstructed!) With this in mind no one single tour would show me around this huge set of buildings, finding you way around was set to be a massive part of the fun! Luckily Heathrow has it’s iconic signage, so its not too bad once you know what to look for I found. As I mentioned before my work and office would see me travelling air side(past the border, where you go to board your plane!) and back to landside area’s over and over again so I got my first taste of security control and border control under my belt utilising the the staff channels which speeds things up.

It was all over very quickly, I recognised some of the area’s I had been to before as a passenger before but to be honest I hadn’t scratched the surface. We visited the office, some of the accreditation desks and other airport facilities and generally learnt how to navigate the airport as staff which is… inexplicable to say the least. I came to think of navigating the terminals as jumping between slices of a sandwich, you go up, down, left, right, back on yourself and take some short cuts all along the way. Bare in mind you will often be going against the most rigidly controlled and flowing system of walkways designed to ferry people in ONE direction at all times, so it gets odd  going backwards and between different area’s to say the least! My brain was always aching with disorientation at the end of the day that’s for sure!

I got home, exhausted after a long day, but very excited for my shifts to start, which wasn’t too far away, I would be working the 2 weeks before opening ceremony as this is when the majority of the Olympic bandwagon would be arriving in the country and so this was the “critical” period for my team.

Olympic activities were ramping up all around the country at this point and my home town of Basildon was lucky enough to get a Olympic torch visit.. how I wish I could hold one of those… hmm.

That’s it for now, the preparation is over

Next up.. “Games Time” (sort of)



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