I didn’t know what to expect for accreditation training but it has been detailed and extensive; and working at Heathrow has meant an extra layer of instruction.
Apart from two generic sessions of Games Maker training, which could be summed up within the phrase "exceptional hosting", a further two have dealt with the detail of accreditation; the actual process and the venue.
The Olympic Family coming through Heathrow is made up of athletes, diplomats, dignitaries, International Olympic Committee officials, technical officials, coaches, the media and sponsors, over 60,000 people in total including the Olympics and Paralympics.
Athletes arriving at Terminal 1 will be met by a bank of Volunteer Games Makers each sitting at a computer – the accreditation team is their first contact with London 2012. We’ve been asked to WOW the Olympic Family when they arrive.
W = Welcoming, be friendly, be accommodating, be nice, be sensitive to their needs; many will have just had long flights and will probably appreciate meeting someone pleasant, even if we're at the end of a nine-hour shift.
O = On top of it. We’ve been asked to be ready to process the athletes efficiently, ninety seconds per athlete is the aim!
W = Wish them Good Luck and Have a Great Games!!
Everyone who arrives at the accreditation desk should already be in possession of a Pre Validation Certificate (PVC) which has their photograph and all the details necessary to ease movement and access round the athletes' village and their arena of participation.
My role is to check the details on the PVC with what is in LOCOG’s system on the computer screen in front of me. It should be a perfect match.
Once the accreditation document has been scanned and validated it's then carefully laminated inside the plastic pocket and attached to a lanyard - that’s what you see hanging from people’s necks at sporting events and it’s an athlete’s most important document throughout the Games.
Because the accreditation team will be airside at Heathrow, another level of security background checks is undertaken on us by a private security screening firm. As part of the background check my good neighbour is phoned – twice – while tanning in Tenerife!!
The process takes a full four weeks and I strike up a good relationship with my screening handler who has a passion for maths! Did any Games Maker have a handler called JB007, I wonder?
Sunday June 24: Heathrow Venue Specific Training
I seem to have a problem preventing the car taking a thrice round trip of Terminal 3’s short stay drop-off point. Yes reader, it takes me four attempts to navigate into a left fork emerging from Terminal 3 (where I shouldn’t have been in the first place); then it’s an unplanned sojourn round Terminal 5’s car park before finally and what seems randomly arriving at the blue Michelin Man like building, the meeting point for Heathrow training.
Airport car parks? They’re a pure dawdle – if you’ve a few hours to spare, and credit on the mobile.
The first task takes us through a security process to obtain temporary airside passes for the duration of the training; then we’re bussed to Terminal 1 which is one of my locations throughout the Games.
This is really now beginning to feel very exciting – the geography of the airport seems so daunting – and when we arrive at the hall in Terminal 1 where the bank of computers sit? Oh my!!
The walls are adorned with Olympic logos, and ropes are all set up for the Olympic Family to snake their way round and up to the computer desk for their first experience of London 2012. It could be me, and I mentally shake my head at the wonder of it all.
We’re given a tour of the airside departures area, mingling with passengers heading off to all parts of the globe; shown how to go through doors, what to do, what not to do. It’s all compelling stuff.
We’ve had talks from Border Control, the Police and from those involved in the London bid who have been working on the Games since 2004. Yes, I am impressed. Thorough it has been. LOCOG’s full time Venue Managers are impressive and in command of their brief.
Wednesday June 27
With one day to go until my first shift at 6am you might think training would be complete. Well, not quite.
The British Airport Authority in conjunction with the Department of Transport also has an on-line security course to be completed – it’s taken me days, on and off making copious notes as I progress through the course, before achieving 90% in the assessment and the completion certificate allows me to gain the full airside pass.
Basking in the ambience of Chichester, training over, a text from my daughter lights up the mobile. She’s been in training too and JOY, has just passed her driving test in Knightswood; good news for her, for my wife I’m not so sure. She’ll definitely have to stay on the ‘supply teaching’ list to buy daughter a car.
There’s no way I can finance that kind of teenage lifestyle on a teacher’s pension; it just seems like yesterday or at most 17 years, 17 weeks and six days since I was buying her first pair of wee socks and baby blanket on a bright February morning in Argyle Street to take back up to Rottenrow.
Thursday June 28
3am in the morning and only three hours until I report in full uniform for the first shift; it’s along the A3 with Amy MacDonald on the car juke-box sublimely serenading me to "slow right down" at the junction 10 approach on to the M25 clockwise then arriving at Heathrow with an hour to spare.
I have a simple theory about time; it’s much better to be an hour early than a picosecond late so I keep my wristwatch 40 minutes slow for reasons I don’t have to share with anyone. Seriously do not even ask, the answer would change throughout the year anyway, so just don’t go there.
Now I’m fired up and ready to meet the Olympic Family. I’ve spent a lifetime training for this One Dream moment.
Let’s help the youth of the world carry their courage, and make London 2012 "the best Games ever" – bar none.
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