THREE volunteers from around South Yorkshire will be in the thick of the action at the Olympics, helping out at major sporting fixtures throughout the two-week competition.
They’ll be responsible for stewarding, making sure spectators have the correct tickets - and carrying the coveted gold, silver and bronze medals to the winners.
The lucky trio told The Star they’re looking forward to their special roles in July - and that they all agreed the Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Gary Longden, aged 30, from Killamarsh, will be a flower and medal bearer at both the Olympics and the Paralympics in London.
“I’ll be working on the BMX track in the Olympic Park, and the ExCel building which is where all the indoor sports are happening like boxing and weightlifting,” he said.
“I was chuffed to bits when they offered it to me, I couldn’t believe it. I’m really excited about it.”
The Olympic volunteers will all be known as ‘games makers’. Gary said he hasn’t yet been given specific instructions about his duties.
“I won’t really know right up until the event what I’ve got to do, but I would be happy to do absolutely anything.
“As long as I don’t get it wrong or stumble and fall it’ll be okay!
“Being on TV will be an added bonus too. I applied after seeing an advert, I thought I had nothing to lose.”
Gary, a keen football fan who supports Sheffield Wednesday and Liverpool, is a self-employed plasterer who also has a part-time job at the Motorpoint Arena, helping to set up equipment for shows.
His wife, Dana Longden, 30, lives in Canada, and the couple have a two-month-old son together, Jaeden.
Busy marshalling the crowds will be 37-year-old Richard Batterby, from Hackenthorpe, Sheffield, who has been allotted a role with the events services team in London.
“I’ll be in a stewarding, front-of-house role in the Olympic Park itself,” Richard said.
“I won’t know the specific responsibilities until two or three weeks beforehand, but everyone’s always really keen to work on the athletics and the swimming.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Richard travelled across the world to see the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and used to take part in the Yorkshire Swimming Championships.
Originally from York, he works as business development manager for Kirklees Council, and moved to Sheffield two years ago.
He added: “Luckily one of my old work colleagues is renting out his second bedroom for me so my accommodation in London is sorted!”
Meanwhile, Donna Nixon, 39, from New Lodge in Barnsley, is set to volunteer as an Olympic ticket collector at football games in Manchester.
“I’m really, really excited,” she said.
“For me it’s a massive dream come true. I’ll be checking tickets, making sure people have got the right ones for their seat so there’s no double bookings or things like that. It’s very responsible.”
Donna has medals from eight Great North Runs, and has also completed the Manchester 10k as well as gaining a black belt in karate. She works for Capita in the Dearne Valley, dealing with calls for British Gas.
“I would never be good enough to be part of the Olympics as a competitor!” she said. “So this is as close as I’ll come.”
STUDENTS from Sheffield Hallam University will have an important job at the Olympics, helping out in the contest’s vast Press operations department.
Around 200 students who completed a Sports Development module will be acting as reporters, while others will be manning information helpdesks.
The opportunity came about through an arrangement with the London Olympics’ organising committee, making Hallam the only university to partner the Games in such a way.
The module was designed to introduce students to working with the media during major sport events.
After completing the module, they were able to apply to help manage the 5,600 journalists across all of the Olympic venues.
Former Hallam Union president Russ Swannack, who’s now university liaison officer for the Olympic and Paralympic News Service, said students would have a variety of different jobs to do.
“It won’t necessarily be in the main Press centre, they’ll be working across all venues in a diverse number of roles,” he said.
“Some will be becoming reporters and interviewing athletes, and some will be providing the media with information.”
Rosemary Leach, principal lecturer in sport, said the partnership was ‘great news for the region’.
THE Olympic torch will be burning brightly around Sheffield this summer, and events have been planned to mark its arrival in the city.
Thousands of people are expected to line the route as the flame is held aloft by specially-chosen torchbearers on June 25 and 26.
The torch arrives at Chapeltown and heads to Ecclesfield before being carried to Hillsborough.
Spectators will then cheer on the torchbearers as the flame travels along Penistone Road and Glossop Road to Ecclesall, finishing at Barker’s Pool for a free evening of celebrations.
The two-hour entertainment show features the lighting of a cauldron marking the end of the day’s proceedings.
Other highlights of the route through Sheffield on June 25 include a community event at Hillsborough Park, as well as celebrations in the Peace Gardens, Tudor Square and on Devonshire Green.
The next day, the torch will continue on its journey to Rotherham, starting at Attercliffe and heading to Templeborough, through the town centre and on to Dalton and Thrybergh.
Carrying the torch through Ecclesfield will be swimming instructor Sue Prasad, and 18-year-old Josh McGill who is holding the flame in Chapeltown.
Teenager Carys Hall, from Gleadless, and tireless cancer fundraiser John Burkhill, 73, are also torchbearers.
STEEL CITY OLYMPICS IN NUMBERS
200 - People involved in Team GB in Sheffield
250 - Athletes and staff from international teams in Sheffield
£550,000 - Benefit from Olympic training camps
£19 million - Economic benefit from pre-Olympic activities