Diary of a Medal Maker – Alexandra Barker

When I started at Loughborough University working on the Medal Makers programme I knew I was starting something special and momentous but little did I know exactly what was in store!

Walking around campus with the rest of the team and seeing all the first class sporting facilities really brought it home to me exactly where I was working. Loughborough University, to me, is synonymous with sport and I couldn’t think of a better place to work!

The first couple of months flew by in a flurry of policy and strategy writing and the start of the recruitment phase. The Preparation Camp was due to open on 18th June and we needed our volunteers in place to start on that date!

The first task for us to undertake was to organise some volunteers to take part in the dress rehearsal of the Olympic Torch Relay! I was lucky enough to be nominated also and had the chance to run with the official Olympic Torch.

Alex Barker with the Olympic Torch!

By May we had recruited most of the volunteers and we held the first of five briefing/training sessions, neatly timed for the start of the Olympic Torch Relay, carried for the first time by Ben Ainslie (one of my sporting greats).With tears in my eyes I welcomed the first batch of volunteers and thanked them for coming.

Once the volunteers were briefed and we only had 4 weeks to do our final preparations it was all hands on deck to get people into roles and locations ready for day one…..and somehow we managed it!

Day one of Preparation Camp brought its own challenges with more volunteers needed for certain roles and less for others. It was a juggling act all the way through with the need for volunteers changing on a regular basis but all roles were filled and no job was left undone.

The 3rd July was another great day as that was the day that the official Olympic Torch Relay came through campus, again!  This time I was able to enjoy the spectacle as the torch passed by and I saw the torch ‘kiss’ outside the Sir Denis Rooke Building. The Relay was preceded by a fun and colourful carnival marking the relay as it passed through the East Midlands.

That week proved to be pretty special as not only did we have the Olympic Torch, but I was lucky enough to meet Princess Anne, Sir Steve Redgrave and to be present at David Cameron’s address regarding legacy.

The Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games marked another key event for the Medal Makers with a party and the opening of the Beckwith Clubhouse. The Medal Makers and I had worked really hard to turn a lecture theatre into an inviting clubhouse for people to kick back, relax and watch the Games.

The clubhouse proved to be a massive success with a full house on many an occasion. Staff and volunteers watched and cheered for Team GB as they won most of their 65 medals.

On the 6th August Preparation Camp finished. The Team GB branding was all taken down and their presence here on campus became a memory….or did it?

Work had already started to commemorate the Olympics in the form of a participatory arts project outside the Sports Development Centre building to serve as a permanent reminder of the impact that the Olympics has had on Loughborough University and its staff, students and volunteers.

I know that my Olympic odyssey was truly over when we held the final thank you and farewell party for the Medal Makers on 15th August. With genuine tears of joy and sadness I made my goodbyes to my new friends and vowed to meet them all again on our next volunteering adventure.

I have truly loved my time here at Loughborough. Through the many highs and lows that I have worked through I have learnt that I am resilient and tough and can face adversity face on. I am cheerful and diligent and work with tenacity to achieve great things. I will miss the people that I have met along the way and thank each and everyone of them.


Diary of a Medal Maker – Lizzi Major

For the past two years I have been working with Loughborough University on the Medal Makers programme to recruit an ‘army’ of volunteers to support the official Team GB Preparation Camp and create a lasting legacy for the area. After all the build-up it is hard to believe that all 550 Team GB athletes, plus 450 support staff, have been to Loughborough to collect their kit and the London 2012 Games are about to start!

I have been lucky enough to play my part in the huge Team GB ‘Kitting Out’ operation that has taken place on campus over the last six weeks. My role has involved scheduling (and in some cases rescheduling!) who is coming and when, checking people in on arrival and most importantly being that happy smiling face as the athletes walk through the door to make their experience a special one from the start. Being an excitable person myself this hasn’t proved to be a difficult task – I could honestly say that every day I have been almost as excited as they are.

For the majority of athletes this is the first time they will compete at an Olympic Games. Some have been a little nervous on arrival and unsure of what to expect whilst others have bounced through the door in anticipation. One thing all of the athletes have in common is the fact that they are buzzing when they leave and many have struggled to find the words to describe the incredible experience of getting kitted out and becoming part of ‘One Team GB’.

On average it takes around three and a half hours for a Team GB athlete to complete their kitting out experience. Following an introductory DVD fronted by Sir Clive Woodward, the first port of call is to Next for fitting of formal wear and Opening and Closing Ceremony outfits (which are top secret and hidden behind closed doors!). The 1948 Olympic athletes offer their words of wisdom via inspirational handwritten messages framed around the room which is a nice touch.

Following Next is a visit to Adidas to try on competition wear, training wear, village wear and podium wear (yes there is even a special tracksuit to be worn for the medal ceremonies!). A team of volunteers take on the role of ‘personal shoppers’, fetching various sizes for the athletes to try on and in some cases being asked for advice on the fit – although with the finely toned athletes I can’t imagine there were too many cries of “Does my bum look big in this?!”

The athletes have their photos taken and are interviewed in the Media Zone which is good preparation for the interest that will surround them in London. They have their hands and feet scanned and the idea of this is to create a lasting memory of every single Team GB athlete to display in the Olympic Museum. The athletes also sign up to the ‘One Team GB’ core values of Performance, Respect, Unity, Responsibility and Pride.

The Team GB Preparation Camp wouldn’t have been able to run without the team of dedicated volunteers that have given up six weeks of their lives to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity. It has been an absolute honour and a privilege to meet all of the Team GB athletes and I wish every single one of them success at the Olympic Games in London. I will certainly be glued to the Games and will no doubt find myself taking more of an interest in sports that weren’t previously on my radar now that I have met the people that will competing.

Lizzi Major

Good Luck Team GB…Better Never Stops!

The Medal Makers Programme

 Medal Makers Volunteer Programme

Loughborough University was confirmed as the venue for the Official Preparation Camp Headquarters for Team GB and from then work started to create a unique volunteer programme to support both the University and Team GB over the summer of 2012.

The Medal Makers volunteering programme was designed, and implemented, to deliver the exceptional support needed for the training camps, kitting out, and other special events and ceremonies.

Nearly 400 volunteers were recruited to support Loughborough University to deliver the outstanding service expected for Team GB, the British Olympic Association, athletes and staff at Loughborough University at the Preparation Camp.

Medal Makers volunteers worked in all of the different areas in the Preparation Camp; from kitting out each Team GB athletes in their official Team GB kit, supporting the Team GB media team, participating in the BOA London 2012 museum archives and providing the security and venue assistance for the individual training venues.

Medal Makers have supported in all aspects of VIP visits to the Preparation Camp from managing the car parking to actually escorting the delegations.

The volunteers have also been instrumental in ensuring the delivering of the communications strategy and worked in all areas of hospitality, including doing the Team GB laundry!

Volunteers have also been involved in some very exciting events, such as the Olympic Torch Relay, LIA, the LEAP athletics event, the Loughborough Football and rugby teams inaugural matches on the new Loughborough Stadium. This activity will stand them in good stead in their future volunteering endeavours.

Legacy and continuation of their volunteering has been woven throughout the programme and we have worked in partnership with Leicestershire and Rutland sport and in particular linking with their volunteering programme, Sport Makers.

Medal Makers volunteers have clocked up an impressive 11,642 hours of volunteering over the 64 days of the Preparation Camp. Some volunteers working well into the night to achieve their goals.

Volunteers ranged in age from 16 to 84 and from all walks of life from HE students to retired solicitors, sports stars of the future to those who simply wanted to ‘give something back to society’.

Some volunteers came from Leicestershire and the rest of the East Midlands, but others came from London, Surrey, Devon and some came from oversees, for example the international students who delayed their return back home just to be involved in the Olympics in whatever way they could.

Some Medal Makers volunteers were also Games Makers based in the Olympic venues and have been wearing their Medal Maker uniform, when not on Games Maker duty, with pride!

The Medal Makers volunteers have epitomised the Olympic values: respect, friendship and excellence. They have had respect for each other, Team GB and the job in hand; they have been excellent at every activity that they participated in and they have made long and lasting friendships!


Team GB training

Loughborough University and the Medal Makers were thrilled to be able to support so many of Team GB and their training needs.

All in all there were 19 teams training here; starting with Basketball on the 21st June and finishing on Monday 6th August when the Taekwondo team dismantled the Taekwondo square and left to go to the Olympic Village.

The Medal Makers acted as security of the venues ensuring that no-one without the correct accreditation pass as allowed in (or in the case of the Basketball Players below a certain height!). In addition they supported the teams by getting them what they needed including a brush (and a vacuum cleaner to clean the brush), a sharp knife, ice for ice baths and superglue!

Our friendly policeman – Mark Friskell

Mark - our friendly policeman!

Mark Friskel is a Police Officer who was assigned to the Official Preparations Camp Headquarters for Team GB at Loughborough University from mid-January onwards.

He provided a vital link between the University and Charnwood Borough Council, Leicestershire Constabulary and Leicestershire County Council. He ensured that all the different strategic plans for the Olympic Torch Relay linked and worked together perfectly.

From the start it was clear that there was a lot to do!

The Olympic Torch Relay through Leicestershire comprised two events: the dress rehearsal on the 20th April and the real thing on the 3rd June.

Being involved in the dress rehearsal was exciting as Leicestershire showed people what was involved and how it would look. The whole nation, plus LOCOG, Team GB, the BOA and the IOC were watching us to ensure it all went according to plan.

In addition to the logistics of the torch relay, the traffic controlling measures had to be meticulous as many major routes were affected.

The feedback from the day was very positive with the staffing from the Medal Makers volunteers absolutely spot on!

Now to planning the real thing! The emphasis here was to shape the plans and bring it all together.

We needed to brief as many volunteers as we could and The Medal Makers team helped to set up those briefing sessions. Without those the volunteers may not have known what was expected of them.

One of the highlights of Mark’s work on campus was playing the video of the previous days’ footage of the Olympic Torch Relay on the morning of the 3rd July. Seeing everyone’s faces in the ‘sea of pink’ light up as they realized exactly what they were involved in was inspiring.

They even gave a round of applause in appreciation of the day ahead.

In addition to the volunteers and visitors to campus, local school children filled the Holywell Stadium and the cheering in there was deafening…it certainly helped build the air of excitement and anticipation.

All in all an estimated 9,000 people were on site watching the Olympic Torch go through Loughborough University’s campus.

‘I’ve had a fantastic time on campus working with all the different organization and the Medal Makers volunteers I am proud to have played a key part in the torch relay. It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. And now I’m back in reality with the day job with the community engagement team!’

Olympic Clubhouse Launch

To celebrate the impact that Loughborough University has had upon the Team GB athletes and to thank the Medal Makers volunteers for all their hard work a special event was organised for the Opening Ceremony.

The Sir John Beckwith lecture theatre was set up an Olympic Clubhouse and a Hog Roast was organised.

there were games organised for family and friends and a fantastic night was had by all.

Voices of the University

The Medal Makers interviewed seven volunteers who are also permanent university staff and students.  Their close and professional relationship with the university has shed some interesting light on how Preparation Camp is viewed by those who will remain at Loughborough after the Olympics has finished.

We found they actually shared many similar opinions and thoughts. For example:

    • They found the Medal Makers were helpful, especially when the Torch was here.
    • Preparation Camp is a positive experience for the university thanks to having so much media exposure.
    • Loughborough has been put on the map nationally and internationally.
    • They felt safer after the enhanced security.
    • Many are looking forward to seeing how the work that’s been done here on campus will contribute to Loughborough’s Olympic legacy.

Extra security arriving in Loughborough for the Torch Relay (but there’s always time for a photo with the local school children!)


The torch getting Paparazzi-style media attention on campus!

Our interviewees ranged from students, to administrative staff, to security, and each had their share of diverse opinions:

  • Those who worked in the Developmental and Alumni Gift Processing felt Preparation Camp is beneficial for the university’s local, national and international reputation.
  • Admin staff thought Preparation Camp would be a fascinating talking point with the locals, who were coming to appreciate the university more by understanding what went on in campus.
  • They felt a definite buzz on campus.
  • The students also noticed that a lot of the facilities on campus have been upgraded in the last few years in preparation for the athletes, and this will be a great legacy for the University’.
  • The students were able to take their Security certificates to the Union and apply for paid work, which was a big bonus for them. 
Victoria and Ben, student volunteers, at the Security Scanner

The Medal Makers are happy to hear how Preparation Camp has become a pivotal milestone in the university’s history. It is also really encouraging to hear how the Loughborough Legacy will continue on at a national level, but has also already benefitted the people directly affected by what the university has to offer, and will continue to do so for those to come!

A Medal Maker’s Torch Day Diary – Janet Stevenson

It was an early start at 7.00am but the lecture hall in the Edward Herbert Building was a sea of pink as, in spite of the cold drizzle all 325 volunteers were wearing their pink T-shirts. 


After briefing we set off to our various locations. David (my husband) and I were in Sector 15 which was the University Stadium. Quite a long walk on this vast campus but interesting to see how cord marking had been set up along the route to mark public access.  By Elvyn Richards Hall there were cleverly stacked straw bales for sitting and standing on. We saw some Chinese students standing on top and waving union jacks while being photographed by friends.  Should make interesting viewing back home!

Once in sight of the stadium volunteers were posted along the route.  The stadium was the venue for school parties and the children were in a high state of excitement eagerly accepting the university flags, band-sticks and leaflets which we were handing out.


The teachers, police and paramedics were all in good humour and the atmosphere was fun. The drizzle had stopped and the sun came out briefly.


 We were given the job of ‘holding the gate’ so only those with wrist bands, official kit, such as the GB Volley Ball team, their coaches, the aspiring athletes and coaches, hoping for a place in Rio in 2016, and a list of official guests were allowed in. If guests didn’t have official ID we were to put a blue pen cross on their hands which caused some laughs.

The advance carnival parade came down the hill and into the stadium, past the flashing balloon flame and through the gate we were ‘guarding’, which gave us real close up views of their fantastic costumes.


Then the real star of our section arrived, Audrey Cooper with her torch ready for its ‘kiss’. She is the coach for the Team GB’s Women’s volleyball team and comes from East Leake. The whole team had come in full kit to support her – and we had let them in!!

One of the Medal Makers volunteers had the exciting task of holding the ‘Torches Kiss Here’ banner and being right up close to the transfer of the flame. The flame runner for the previous stage came down the hill carried into the stadium by Johnathan Eley a winter Olympics speed skating world record holder to meet the array of cameras.

Audrey then started her run and proceeded out of our gate and down to Sir Denis Rooke building.


We stayed to see the children leave safely, then made our way back up campus where a variety of other activities were getting underway.

We had a fantastic day and were sorry to leave at the end.

Medal Makers help the Ambition Group

Again the Medal Makers have stepped up to the challenge and done an incredible job supporting the Ambition kitting out process.


The Ambition Programme is looking toward the future athletes that are likely to represent Team GB at Rio in 2016. The programme is looking to getting these future Olympians ready and prepared so that when the time comes they are fully equipped to deal with the stress and strain of an Olympic games – the Kitting Out process, as we are fully aware, is vital to their experience

Week Two of Preparation Camp

We are now in our second week of the Preparation Camp and we are starting to see more teams come through the kitting out process; others will stay on campus for training and further preparation.

Some large teams have already come through kitting out, rowing, sailing and cycling to name a few  and it has been fantastic to be a part for their preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Picture of the Team GB Triathletes outside Sir Dennis Rooke.


We are stil looking forward to lots more Olympians to come through Kitting Out . Gymnastics, athletics, football and hockey are just some of the teams yet to enter the Preparation Camp and be kitted out by the Medal Makers based there.