Sue Ward, an Access and Bridleways Officer for Kent gives her account of being part of the Olympic Gamesmaker's Parade at the Longines Royal International Horse Show.
I’ve always loved Hickstead, having spent many happy days there over the years. It is a superb showground and a perfect venue for the Longines Royal International Horse Show. This year was very special, as they had arranged a day for Olympic Gamesmakers on Friday 2 August, where Gamesmakers could get in free and also apply to be part of the flag bearing team for the Nations Cup.
Applicants had to write 100 words on what the Games had meant to them. I had been a Gamesmaker in the photo team at Horseguards Parade, an amazing location right in the heart of London. Although more interested in equestrian sports, I found the beach volleyball great entertainment and appreciated how it required tremendous skill and co-ordination. Being in London and part of the Olympics was fantastic; the city was buzzing. Strangers spoke to one another on public transport and I was always engaged in conversation travelling to and from my shifts. Some tourists even insisted on having their photos taken with me in my uniform! I met some great people and the whole experience was absolutely wonderful.
So I wrote my 100 words, trying to encapsulate the experience and was thrilled to discover that I had been accepted to be part of the parade.
24 of us assembled at the show office, whilst the riders were walking the course, and were shown what to do by Assistant Show Director, Mrs Frances Youngs. We then had a practice parade around the main ring and were completely overwhelmed by the cheers and applause from the audience. Each of the eight teams had a flag bearer and two supporters. I was so proud to be chosen for the British team, who hadn’t paraded in public since they won Gold at the Olympics.
Mia Korenika did a great job of carrying the flag and Lynne and I were her supporters. We had to make sure we walked briskly so as not to slow down the horses too much. It is traditional that the host nation parades last, so the tension built until we were given the signal to go. It was a truly spine tingling moment to walk in front of the British team with the National Anthem playing. The crowd cheered once again for our Olympic heroes. It was a great honour and something I will remember all my life.