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Bassett Olympic volunteer tells of unforgetable experience
A head groundsman from Royal Wootton Bassett will be back to his day job this week after a whirlwind fortnight at the Olympics.
Ralph White, who works for the town council, spent 16 days on ten-hour shifts, volunteering as a chauffeur for athletes and officials.
Driving one of 4,000 new BMWs, Mr White described it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
He said: “It has been absolutely amazing, I’ve met some great people and made loads of friends.
“I don’t know London particularly well but you can just feel the atmosphere, it has been buzzing, everyone has been waving flags and it has just been Olympics everywhere.”
Last year Mr White and his wife Helen applied to volunteer at the Games and have since attended training days to ensure they were prepared.
Mr White said: “I was working long days which basically consisted of collecting the keys to your BMW and running people around, including officials, team managers and interpreters. “I didn’t meet anyone I recognised, but I had people from the Indian Olympic committee and the Slovakian Olympic committee.
“The way our shifts were organised meant we were nearly always working with the same group of 20 people, so I got to know everybody really well.
“I met so many people and I was able to go to a rehearsal of the opening ceremony and into Hyde Park, where they had four huge screens, and into the Olympic Park where there was always something going on.
“I watched lots of it on television. I think we have all watched sport that we wouldn’t normally watch – at that level it is good to watch anything from tae kwon do to the diving.”
Mr White said he was looking forward to getting back to normality after spending the past three weeks camping with his wife at a football stadium near the Olympic Stadium in East London.
He said: “We do quite a bit of camping anyway, so we had all the equipment, but I will be quite relieved to get back home.
“Helen will be volunteering for the Paralympics in event services, so she has collected her uniform and is really looking forward to it.
“It is getting a bit closer now and fortunately for her she won’t have to camp the whole time.”