8 August, 2012/
About a week ago, I received a phone call from Jamie and David to ask whether I would collect an award on their behalf. This award was being given out by Gold Challenge, in partnership with the British Olympic Association, to recognize those companies who had raised money for charity using the Olympics as a theme. For those who have read this blog, you will know that Xoomworks wanted to run with 2,012 people and that these events have included Ultrathons, running with Kalahari bushmen and several other madcap but wonderful schemes culminating with Holly Holmes being a torch bearer on Monday 23rd July.
Having listened to this invite with a very puzzled expression on my face and the immediate question forming of “Why not collect it yourselves?” they went on to say that the award would be at GB House, the GB headquarters and heartbeat of the Olympic Team based just outside of the Olympic Park. In addition, it would include a tea and the chance to meet a number of athletes. By this stage I was now convinced, having been worried for some time, that their exploits had completely impaired their thinking as why on earth wouldn’t they want to do this chance of a lifetime themselves?
Their rationale was that this was a community project and that they wanted someone who had not only helped with a number of the charitable events but who was also, from a work perspective, a Friend of Xoomworks (“FOX”). I was still not certain and after a very long conversation I reluctantly accepted. It was however, with very mixed emotions as on the one hand I felt very honoured and proud but at the same time unworthy as I had not undertaken or organized any of the activities. I was also extremely excited as those who know me will know that I am a sports nut!
The event was to take place on Wednesday 1stAugust and having been to the Olympic Park on the Monday to watch some hockey I had done a quick reckie to work out where to go. We were encouraged to wear our charity T Shirts and Alice from HemiHelp kindly sent me one to wear.
The day itself started brilliantly with GB winning its first gold medal so I knew that the mood at GB House would be good. On arrival at GB House, there were lots of people waiting outside, clearly to get a glimpse of any athletes who would be coming in, and walking down the red carpet I felt very honoured – although a tad disappointed that people didn’t think I was a past Olympian! Having cleared security we were taken to the 9th floor with its views over looking the Olympic Park. The room itself was a like a mini theatre with a big screen banked by seats all set in an Olympic theme with a floor that resembled a track and grass. Surrounding all of this were other chairs and meeting areas and tables laden with food. In addition, on the wall were signed framed photographs of all of GB’s medal winners and there sitting in pride of place in the middle of the room waiting to be signed and put up was the picture of the British Women’s Rowing Team!
We were then ushered into a private section of the room for the presentation itself. Prior to this presentation, I was fortunate to meet Graham Johnson who on behalf of Harry’s HemiHelpers had also raised money for HemiHelp and had traveled down for the day from Lichfield. To have 2 out of the 24 people representing HemiHelp and collecting awards showed how powerful this charity is and how much it touches people’s lives.
The presentation started with an introductory speech and then each of the 24 winners were presented with their medals by Dalton Grant (ex High Jumper for GB who won European and Commonwealth honours as well as representing GB at the Olympics) and Noel Thatcher (represented GB at 6 Paralympic games between 1988 and 2004 winning a total of 5 gold medals and carried the flag for GB at the opening ceremony in Athens). This presentation was accompanied by a brief summary of what individuals had achieved for their chosen charities. To listen to these stories and to be part of this group of people was truly inspirational and makes you realize the lengths that people will go in order to better the lives of others. It also reconfirmed how powerful sport is in bringing people together and just what the Olympics could do as a lasting legacy for this country if these values were to be adopted by the rest of the country.
As the ceremony was going on the Men’s Road Time Trial had started and very soon the place had filled up with various GB representatives although as all eyes were on the screen you couldn’t actually tell whether any athletes were around..Needless to say, when Bradley Wiggins crossed the line to win gold, the place erupted!! To be able to be in amongst the GB team when that happened – as a keen cyclist, was very special!
Once the ceremony had finished we were allowed to stay in the main room and watch the big screen and I was fortunate enough to meet some great Olympians in Mark Foster, Roger Black and Steve Backley as well as David Walliams and Robbie Savage. Apparently, Dame Kelly Holmes, Amir Khan , Amy Williams and William Fox –Pitt with his silver medal had also been there during the day but unfortunately not at the same time as us. It was then, unfortunately, time to leave but just as we were doing so, the framed photograph of Bradley Wiggins was brought into the room ready to be signed and put up on the wall with all of the other medal winners. A fitting end to a wonderful day.
A truly golden day and one that I will remember forever. Thank you Xoomworks not only for allowing me to collect the award on your behalf but more importantly for doing so much to enrich the lives of others who may not be as fortunate as ourselves.