London 2012: Suffolk legacy project recruits volunteers

Image caption Volunteers from the county events team helped out at the Great East Swim at Alton Water, Suffolk

A project inspired by the London Olympics has recruited nearly 250 people to become helpers at sporting and cultural events in Suffolk.

The Suffolk 2012 Volunteering Legacy Project's aim is to get people to sign up to its County Events Team.

Volunteers are then available for events such as the Great East Swim.

Mark McCarthy, project officer, said: "We're asking if we can get more people inspired and involved in sport and cultural-related volunteering."

Volunteers work as stewards and in other behind-the-scenes roles.

Derrick Thomas, 76, is a former cricket and hockey player from Ipswich who was the first to join the project and has volunteered at the swim and at open-air concerts.

'Breaking down barriers'

"I was always involved in sport, so volunteering keeps me alert and I try to motivate youngsters to get involved in sport," he said.

"It's also a way of breaking down barriers between the different nationalities now living in Suffolk.

"I have lived in Ipswich for 44 years [he was born in Guyana], and I thought this was a way of giving something back.

Mr Thomas will also be taking part in the and will carry the flame between Wickham Market and Woodbridge on 6 July.

Mr McCarthy said: "The 240,000 applications and 70,000 volunteers for the Games themselves has raised the profile of volunteering nationally and it's helped smaller county-based projects like us.

"One of the things which comes up, such as with our Great East Swim volunteers, is the enjoyment of being involved in such a positive event with such positive people in a pleasant environment."

The project started in 2010 and has funding from Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Sport and Young Suffolk until 2013.

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