After 10 days where we covered every inch of the Olympic Park – and half of London – the Co-op runners have this week returned to our normal lives, in stores, in offices, in depots and in funeral homes.
It’s been an experience like no other, so hard to express in words (which makes my job easy). The warmth, the buzz, the atmosphere in the stadium. It’s got the ultimate feel good factor.
We’ve brushed shoulders with medal winners, athletes from all over the world, fellow runners with massively varying backgrounds and their own reason for wanting to get involved, the support staff from the top down, and not to mention each other.
Our close-knit team brought the Co-op warmth to the event and lit up the park with our smiles, enthusiasm and willingness to succeed together.
I asked some of the team what their stand out memories were from the week and this is what they had to say:
Paul Gale, Senior Developer in Eastleigh:
I’ll never forget the joy on the faces of the thousands of kids arriving in coach after coach. I’ll also miss giving hi-fives to the young and old.
While Gail Ogden, Fraud Analyst in Manchester, had this to say:
It’s the determination of the athletes that got me. It really does make you realise you can do anything if you put your mind to it.
John Hodges, a Team Manager in Cardinal added:
The look of awe, surprise, excitement and wonder on the faces of the primary school kids as they reached the top of stairs and looked down into the stadium will stay with me forever.
Vicki Whitehouse, Finance Analyst at our Plymouth Depot said,
The things I’ll remember most include the amazing atmosphere, the awesome teamwork, and the opportunity to witness great athletes doing what they love.
Amrit Sagoo, Learning Facilitator in the South region, had this to add:
The day I was a guide for schools, feeding off the students’ energy and enthusiasm became very easy and rewarding.
Lucy Winter, a Funeral Director from Marsh Lane, had this to say:
I’ve been totally blown away by the whole experience. Never did I think that I would be in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park representing the Co-op. I found it very humbling, emotional and feel extremely patriotic.
The Store Manager at Symond’s Green, Chris Newbitt, said:
I’ll never forget the continual feeling of how fortunate I was to be selected as one of the runners – everyday had new experiences and I met some great people. Despite the blisters, sunburn and downpours I wouldn’t change a thing.
There was also this comment from Tessa James, a Funeral Arranger in Stubbington:
Helping with the 30,000 school children we had into the stadium, listening to the roars of excitement then joining them in the stadium and seeing the delight shown on their faces was such a high. The sense of real hope some of the children with additional needs left with and the inspiration they gained from watching fellow wheelchair users compete was amazing.
Jade Johnston, one of our Probate Advisors in Bristol, said:
I’ll never forget the buzz of the crowd as over 30,000 people flocked to the stadium. I met the most incredible people, from the inspiring athletes, to the wonderful team who are now truly my friends. I’m so proud of everything we achieved while we were there, and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.
I asked Alasdair Fowle, Divisional Marketing Manager and organiser of the Co-op runners for his view of the event:
It was great to see 18 strangers from across the country and the Co-op Group come together as a team and make a significant contribution to the huge success of this inspirational event.
So, that’s all from us. What an awesome and amazing ten days it’s been. We’ll all take away so much from it, not least of which is the desire to do more of this kind of volunteering.
And if you’re interested, the European Athletic Championships are in Glasgow next year. See you there?