When my boss asked me whether I wanted to become involved in the interviews for the Weymouth and Portland Ambassadors my first response was “do I get a 2012 badge?!?”
During 2005 when it was announced that the sailing events for the Olympic and Paralympic events would take place in Weymouth, and Portland, Dorset County, West Dorset, and Weymouth and Portland Councils all pledged their commitment to make it happen. I work for a partnership between West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland and Purbeck Councils and was asked to become involved. After 20 odd years working in a public facing part of the council I was considered suitable to interview for the Ambassador positions.
Before becoming directly involved I wasn’t too sure about the events of 2012. Would people want to come to the town just to watch a few boats out at sea? Would all the locals leave the area for two weeks to get away from the hubbub? Would the “20 years worth of road-works in one year” throughout Weymouth actually be worth it? I knew the official bodies were committed to make it work, but did the residents of the borough?
The interviews took place in December 2011, and I wasn’t too sure what to expect: What type of person applies for this sort of thing? Why are they interested? Do they really want to give up 10 days (minimum) of their valued free time? Would it be mainly retired people, young people, unemployed, working and so on?
We were given a 15 minute “from Hi to Bye” window for each candidate, and had to ask up to half a dozen questions depending on the role the candidate required. Then we scored them on each question.
I have interviewed many people for positions within my organisation and thought I had seen pretty much everything over the years: the good, the bad, the indifferent, but nothing like what I encountered during my interviewing days.
The first lady I interviewed was finished within about two minutes; all questions answered perfectly with enthusiasm I’d never encountered during an interview. These guys weren’t getting paid!! A few more interviews with the same outcome; huge enthusiasm and willingness to get involved. It was pretty clear that the people who had turned up all wanted to get involved in the once in a lifetime opportunity which would be coming to town next year.
In Weymouth on the first day I interviewed a wide range of people from a elderly retired lady who was able to reminisce about the last time the Olympics came to Britain to a young girl who was doing a language GCSE’s and wanted to become a language ambassador.
My second day of interviewing was at AFC Bournemouth’s ground and attracted many students from the university. Because of the cosmopolitan nature of Bournemouth University I interviewed people who came from all corners of the globe. Again, I was blown away by the enthusiasm of the interviewees and the range of languages. I interviewed a student from a small village in the Ukraine who had recently come to the UK to study to an ex Royal Navy Senior Officer with a wealth of experience in managing similar types of events.
Whilst all candidates I saw were all good, I have to say I was inspired by some of the younger applicants. Young people often get bad press for being idle and not wanting to volunteer but this put paid to that theory. It’s quite clear that a lot of people in Weymouth and Portland who are looking forward to 2012.
Me? Well I’m on 24 hour call during the Olympics for my own voluntary work which I undertake for the Police and have had all leave cancelled from my day job - so guess I will be busy. I am aiming to do as much as I can to become involved. Oh, I haven’t got my 2012 badge yet…
More volunteers will be sought during 2012. Please follow the link below:
Here’s a bit more about the interviews from the local press