"You have not just helped make London 2012 happen, you have put a smile on the nation's face."
Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed volunteers from the Olympic and Paralympic Games to Downing Street to thank them for the part they played in making London 2012 a success.
Mr Cameron paid tribute to their enthusiasm, dedication and great spirit which shone through right at the heart of the Games and showed the world the very best of Britain.
The group invited to Downing Street included volunteers who had worked at Weymouth and Portland, Old Trafford, Cardiff, Kent, Essex and Heathrow, as well as members of the London Ambassador Programme.
Speaking in Downing Street, Mr Cameron said:
At the end of the most unbelievably successful Olympics and Paralympics, I just want to say what a golden summer of British sport and what a golden summer it’s been for our country. I think it’s given the country a tremendous lift, I think it’s brought the country together, and I think it’s given us memories that we will be talking about for years and generations to come. I think that 2012 will be like 1966, something we’ll talk about with our children and grandchildren, something that will continue to delight us long after this time has passed.
Of course, there are lots of people to thank: the athletes and the Paralympians who have delighted us and amazed us; the army and the police who’ve done a fantastic job with the security services in terms of keeping us safe; the volunteers, some of whom are standing behind me, who put this incredible smiling face on the Games and delighted the world; and of course all those who were responsible for delivering a safe, secure and, frankly, brilliant, best ever - in my view - Olympics and Paralympics.
But I think there’s something else as well that we can take from this extraordinary period, and that is that for countries to succeed in this competitive and difficult world, you need to have confidence; you need to have confidence that you can do big things and get them right; you need to have confidence that you can take on the best, be the best, beat the best; and I think the Olympics and the Paralympics, we’ve absolutely done that as a country. It’s brought the country together; it’s given us this incredible lift.
Of course, once the parade is over, once all the thank-yous have been said, once the celebration has ended, some of that spirit inevitably will fade as everyone knuckles down and gets back to work after this magical summer, but I think we’ll always have that knowledge, that spirit of what we can be as a country. I think this summer brought out the best in Britain for the world to see, and that spirit we must cling to for all of the months and the years ahead.
The Prime Minister is also sending thank you letters to the thousands of volunteers who contributed to London 2012. In the letter he writes:
To see tens of thousands of people giving up their time to support London 2012 has been truly inspiring.
You have not just helped make London 2012 happen, but through the welcome and spirit you have shown, you have put a smile on the nation’s face.
Mr Cameron continues by praising the volunteers’ efforts which he says:
…have been an essential ingredient in a remarkable summer that millions of people across the country have shared and will remember for a lifetime. You have sent an incredible message about the warmth, friendliness and can-do spirit of the United Kingdom around the world. Quite simply, the Games couldn’t have happened without you.
The Prime Minister noted how for many people London 2012 provided the inspiration to volunteer for the first time and that he hopes that the Games will encourage them to continue to make a difference.
By backing the independent organisation Join In, the Government has been keen to support the spirit of volunteering shown during the Games - particularly through the Join In Weekend in August.
Over 6000 events were held at sports clubs across the UK as part of Join In Local Sport between the Olympics and Paralympic Games. Early indications are that the events attracted over a quarter of a million participants and, of those that took part, 10% volunteered on the day and over 10% signed up for future volunteering.
The Join In initiative took place the week after the Olympic Games aiming to convert the spirit of the summer into people getting involved in their local sports clubs.
It is estimated that well over 270,000 people turned up and participated with local sports clubs signing up over 30,000 new volunteers in just one weekend
Government has asked Sir Charles Allen and Greg Nugent to work up ideas for 2013, including being a hub for the Games Makers.