Where are they now? Anna Letts and Ewan Ashburn
Two Sheffield alumni talk to the Alumni Relations team about their involvement with the London 2012 Games and their most memorable experiences of the Olympics.
Anna Letts (2001, BA Sociology)
Tell us about your role in the Olympics
I was a Games Maker at the Olympic Park during the Olympics. I worked in the Events Services team on the common domain between the venues. My main duties were to help spectators find their way around, answer questions, (anything from ticket problems to timings and results of events) take photos, scan tickets and direct foot traffic at busy periods.
I am a teacher and am teaching lessons around the Olympics and Paralympics and their values now I am back in school.
What were your personal highlights?
Meeting fans from all over the world, most of whom where in crazy patriotic fancy dress - they really went to town with it! Working with an amazing team of Games Makers from all over the country, of different ages and backgrounds who, like myself, all wanted to make a difference and be part of London 2012.
Sum up your Olympic experience for us
Life changing! It sounds cheesy but it really was once in a lifetime stuff everyday. It was really hard work and long shifts but I loved every minute of if, getting to help the general public have a fun, brilliant time at the Olympics and in turn share the feel good factor. We had such a great response; for many, the Games Makers really did “make it happen”. I also went to watch a few sporting events (ticketed and free) and loved being a spectator myself, the atmosphere really was something else. To see so many people supporting team GB was wonderful. However, it was hard to restrain myself from going into Games Maker mode! I am not normally a fan of London but being in the capital I made the most of the cultural Olympiad by watching sport on the big screens and taking part in festivals and concerts in iconic London venues with my family and friends. I am so glad I made the most of the opportunity to get involved so fully in the Olympics.
What effect do you think the Games have had on the country has a whole?
It has really boosted the country’s morale and given people something to celebrate, something positive to focus on in such difficult times. I have seen first hand the cuts to sports and education, so I really hope the Olympic legacy continues and that we truly have “inspired a generation”.
Ewan Ashburn (2011, MEng Mechanical Engineering)
What was your involvement in the Olympics?
I was lucky enough to be cast in a dual drumming and marshalling role for the Olympic Ceremonies. I was one of the 1000 drummers in the Industrial Revolution scene in the opening ceremony and then marshalled the athletes during the parade of athletes. I also marshalled the athletes on the ‘field of play’ during the closing ceremony.
What was your personal highlight?
I have two personal highlights – firstly, meeting Danny Boyle on the afternoon of the Opening Ceremony was an amazing experience. He has time for everyone and is so down to earth. This, coupled with the unveiling of the cauldron in the opening ceremony itself; this was kept a secret from us all.
How would you sum up your Olympic experience?
I felt honoured to be a part of such an amazing event which will go down in history. After many months of rehearsals, it was very emotional leaving the stadium for the last time after the closing ceremony. To perform in a stadium in front of 80,000 people was a once in a lifetime experience which I may never get the chance to do anything like again. I have made some amazing friends during the whole experience and have memories to last a lifetime.
What effect do you think London 2012 has had on the country has a whole?
This was summed up throughout the whole Olympics with the way in which the nation embraced the athletes and the vast variety of sports like never before. Even people who were never before interested in sport tuned in to watch the events unfold. The atmosphere and vibe from London was transferred across the country and people supported all countries from across the world as they competed for medals. In tough economic times, everyone celebrated the triumphs of the Games and supported all who competed. Everyone now believes we can put on shows on a massive scale and all in all make everyone proud to be British.