I’ve been asked by Westfield, who have shopping centres at Westfield London (in White City) and Westfield Stratford City , to help out with their ‘I Was There’ campaign, which is about sharing your stories of the experiences that you had during London 2012. There are lots of great prizes on offer – all you have to do is join ‘Team East’ or ‘Team West’ to show your allegiance to a particular site, and go from there.
I’ll go through the competition opportunities in a moment, but first I’m going to put the case for which team I think you should join. Now you might be aware if you follow me on Google Plus or Twitter that I’ve found the last few months quite frustrating – knowing that I’d probably be at a loose end during the Games I thought I would put myself forward for various volunteering programmes so that I could share my skills and experience. Unfortunately my applications to the three programmes that I chose were rejected. I’ve come to terms with that now, as I’ve discovered that there were far more applicants than places available. I understand for example that the London Ambassadors programme had twice as many people go along to the orientation events than they actually needed, so the fact that I ended up in the ‘no’ pile was more than likely down to the luck of the draw. I regret that I didn’t have the opportunity to get more involved but at least earlier this week I finally saw what all the fuss was about, and the more I think about it the more I stand in awe of the designers of the Olympic Park. All those tiny little details and the love that clearly went into the design of these new public spaces, well, I struggle to find a comparison. In particular I was awestruck by the way that the fringes of the Park had been transformed into meadows that looked like they’d been there for years – how on earth did they achieve that?
I’m also coming round to the idea that this ‘Olympic Buzz’ that people are talking about might actually be real (I know politicians are promoting these ideas but lets not be too cynical – they are simply piggy-backing on what might be genuine sentiment). I can’t remember the last time strangers were so friendly, and I don’t just mean the ‘Games Makers’, who deserve a lot of praise. I’m not sure I was quite prepared for the ready smiles from complete strangers that I encountered everywhere inside the Olympic Park – we Londoners learn to put on our virtual suits of armour and walk around ignoring everything that goes around us. I now that’s not very healthy but it’s a survival mechanism that serves most of us well, so to have that turned on its head over the course of a day came as quite a shock – I’m sure readers who visited the Park can share similar experiences. I was also quite taken aback by how readily spectators really got into the spirit of things – I’m used to crowds at football matches but this was on another level – the noise and the roar of the crowd directed at the athletes in general, and Team GB in particular, was stupendous. It carried no baggage, no ulterior motive – this was genuine flag-waving pride and patriotism, pure and simple. I’d be less convinced if the same crowd hadn’t roundly booed the Chancellor when he pitched up to present some of the medals, but they did – if he’d been in range I’m sure a few rotten eggs and tomatoes would have been flung in his direction too. Good on you the Great British public!
So, now we get down to it, which team do I think you should join? Well the East of course, because I think we should all be celebrating what must be the crowning achievement of the 21st century so far – the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the attendant Olympic Park. I have never in my life experienced anything like it!
So then, how do you get involved in the ‘I Was There’ campaign? There are three ways in all, each of which offers winners prizes of £50 or £500 gift cards – not bad for a small amount of effort:
‘I Was There’ Competition 1 – Register for Team East or Team West
By signing up at the Team East or Team West links on the Westfield site you’re automatically entered into a prize draw where 50 members will get a £500 prepaid Visa gift card to spend at Westfield (now whether you can only use it at the site where you’re a team member, I’m not sure! The view is better from Stratford City anyway…
‘I Was There’ Competition 2 – Share Your Story on Twitter or Instagram
After you’ve joined your team you can post updates using the #IWASTHERE #East or #IWASTHERE #West hashtags with a link to the Twitter account of your chosen Westfield site – either Westfield London or Westfield Stratford City, and you can even tag an image you’ve taken with Instagram if you like. The prize here is a £50 pre-paid Visa card or a Links of London bracelet.
‘I Was There’ Competition 3 – Sharing The Best Story
The team at Westfield will be looking though all of the entries that people post, and the best will stand the chance of winning another £500 pre-paid card.
If you need further details or want to learn more about the Westfield centres you can also take a look at the Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City Facebook pages. Unfortunately you don’t have much time to get your entries in, as the competition closes at midnight on Sunday 9 September, so do be quick! Why don’t you join Team East with me?
Please note that this article is sponsored by Westfield.