The Olympic Legacy lives on for London Ambassadors

This morning saw the launch of the Broadgate ice rink by Luke Campbell, GB Olympic gold medallist.

This morning saw the launch of the Broadgate ice rink by Luke Campbell, GB Olympic gold medallist. Luke won the bantamweight final at London 2012 this summer and he was on the ice this morning with around a hundred London Ambassadors for a photo call to launch the only outdoor rink in the square mile of the city of London.

Ambassadors arrived onto the ice to ‘warm up’ while Luke prepared himself for what I reckon must be one of his biggest challenges so far…standing around on a nippy November morning in his boxing shorts and vest while pink and purple volunteers skated around him. Not everyone was confident on the ice so I could understand why he kept his boxing gloves on!  The photographer did tell us – no falling over as the blood would ruin the photo shoot! It was a fun hour filled with various photo taking – not all by the press and those who were cheeky enough to ask, got to hold that heavy gold medal. No names mentioned…but yes, it was heavy!

It wasn’t just the launch of the rink but a way of ensuring that ambassadors were rewarded for the hard work that they did over the Olympics. They are entitled to a buy one, get one free skate until February 2013 – which all those taking part today were excited about.

This week has also seen the launching of the Ambassador s’ Wood tree planting. Volunteers registered last month to help plant 8,000 trees at woods in Dagenham and Croyden. This was to celebrate their achievements during the summer but also to extend the Olympic legacy.  A plaque is being put up at the wood, linked to a web site where the names of all the 8,000 volunteers can be found. I’m not sure which was colder…the tree planting or the ice skating. Actually I do. It was the tree planting.

It was a miserably rainy day on Saturday when I headed out to Dagenham East to help plant these tiny trees of yew, hawthorn and hazelnut.  I spotted another pink and purple clad volunteer as I arrived at the station and we made our way to the Central Park, Dagenham.

We checked in and were given our instructions from our leaders, themselves volunteers from the The Conservation Volunteers. We had to work in pairs and plant eight trees altogether. Who knew tree planting was such a precise exercise? We lifted our square of turf, dug our not very deep hole and then ensured the tree was in the middle before re filling with the excavated soil…and a tangle of worms that had popped up to the surface to enjoy the rain.  Then the turf was relayed split in half and turned upside down, to ensure the grass did not hinder the trees growth. I’m sure everyone knows that already – but for a city dweller like me that was a revelation. Ours was the first session so it was rather like giving us a blank canvas and a paint pot. It was great to see the ground being transformed with tiny trees as the morning progressed. We were suddenly thankful that the ground was damp because it was hard enough to dig it without it not having been rained upon for the last week or so. It was a great excuse to re visit my wellies that I had lived in during the 2000trees festival. There were a few breaks for photo opportunities including the planting of a Royal Oak, grown from seed from a tree at the Sandringham estate.

Once we had done our bit for the woods-to-be we indulged in a hot coffee and biscuit before heading back to wash off the mud and warm up. On the way back we reminisced about our ‘summer like no other’. It was good to be reminded of the harmonious atmosphere and swap our experiences.

It is pleasing to think that in years to come there will be a living legacy that grew out of London 2012 for everyone to enjoy. Somewhere where children can run around, be encouraged to exercise and may be go on to emerge as Olympic champions. Who knows which future champion may be launching the ice skating season in 2084?


The Conservation Volunteers: