A RIPON woman is looking forward to the opportunity of a lifetime as she prepares to play a part in this summer’s Paralympic Games.
Faye Stephens, from Lowmill Estate, will spend around two weeks as a “Games Maker” volunteer at the Aquatics Centre in the London Olympic park.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and when something like this come along you have to jump at it,” Faye said.
“I am excited and nervous at the same time.”
Faye has been through a two year process to win a place as a Games Maker, and earlier this month travelled to London for her first face-to-face training session.
“I went to role training at Hackney Community College, and I loved it. We are the ‘face of the games’ so our job will include things like showing people to their seats and checking tickets. We also got to see inside some of the venues. The Aquatics Centre is very big and impressive, and very hot!”
They days also gave Faye chance to meet some of her fellow volunteers.
“There are people from all over coming to volunteer, even some from America.”
She will find out more about her job for the Paralympic festival when she travels to London for her venue training in the days before the games begin.
“I haven’t met any of my team yet, but I will meet them at the venue training in July,” she added.
Faye will be posted to the Aquatic Centre and although the Games Makers do not have access to coveted tickets, they will be able to soak up the atmosphere and watch events on the big screens around the Olympic Park.
To become a Games Maker Faye and her fellow volunteers had to prove they have been committed volunteers to charities and community groups in their areas, and get through a one hour long phone interview.
They then specified their “area of expertise” which for Faye meant swimming, sailing and horse riding, the three sports she is involved with as a volunteer, leading to her place in the Aquatics Centre team.
Faye, who works as a Learning Support Assistant for young people aged 16 to 19 at Leeds City College, has been giving her time as a volunteer since she was only 11 years old and spends as much time as she can helping others.
She said: “I prefer to give my time up for other people rather than sit at home doing nothing.”
Now she volunteers at Otley Sailing Club with the Sail Free scheme which helps people with disabilities get onto the water.
Faye is also involved in the Special Olympics swimming gala at Harrogate Hydro, a riding for the disabled group, and swam the Leeds Swimming Marathon every year for ten years to raise money for various charities.
Before the games begin Faye and her partner Richard will take their caravan to a site around 25 minutes away from the Olympic park, where Faye will stay throughout the games.
As volunteers have to find their own travel and accommodation being a Games Maker is a big commitment, and Faye is hoping local businesses in Ripon may come forward to help with sponsorship.
“I looked at hotels, but even three nights was over £1,000, so we have booked the caravan onto a site for 17 nights but even that costs £450.”
If you can help by sponsoring Faye email her on firstname.lastname@example.org.