WEARSIDE workers are making an Olympic effort to support London 2012.
Staff at EDF Energy, the main sponsor of the Echo’s Sports Awards last week, have volunteered to help ensure the Olympic and Paralympic Games run smoothly.
Seven employees from the firm’s Doxford Business Park customer services centre will be among 70,000 Games Makers from around the world at the historic events.
Derek Lawrence and Ian Rooks will help out at the Olympics for a fortnight, while the other five volunteers will support the Paralympics from August 29 until September 9.
Derek, from Springwell, Sunderland, has worked as a customer service advisor at EDF Energy for 10 years.
He will take on the role of team leader at the basketball arena.
“I’m both excited and a little nervous,” he said. “But I’m sure I’ll be fine once I get down there, get into the arena and get my briefing for the events.
“I think I am going to get the opportunity to see a bit of the basketball when I’m not on a shift, which will be fantastic.”
The 45-year-old basketball fan, who has played, coached and refereed at a local level, has inspired his 15-year-old son Kieron to get involved in the sport.
The youngster now plays for St Aidan’s School and the Newcastle Eagles Development and Hoop Stars teams.
“It’s a dream come true and a great opportunity to be able to be in London for the Olympics and to have the opportunity to work in the basketball arena,” said Derek.
“I’ve always had a passion for the sport and used to play in the Durham County and Tyne and Wear leagues.
Derek will be responsible for a team of 10 other volunteers in the basketball arena, where there will be three games every day.
They will rotate daily to cover tasks such as taking tickets on the entry gates, showing people to their seats, looking after the player’s holding area and VIP area.
The other volunteers will carry out similar tasks at Olympic venues while some will be responsible helping to greet the athletes and support them in getting around the Olympic Park and to the competition arenas.
Bosses at the firm, which employs more than 1,800 people on Wearside, said they were pleased to support the Echo’s new annual awards.
Kevin Gatens, head of customer services North East at EDF Energy, said: “We are committed to supporting sport right from grass-roots level, and were delighted to help celebrate the achievements of local sporting talent as event sponsor of the Sunderland Echo’s first Sports Awards.
“In a city that is extremely passionate about sport, we recognise that the Awards provided an exciting opportunity to showcase the amazing talent and abilities of local people.
“As the London games grab the attention of the whole country, the timing of the awards could not have been better and we are now delighted that staff from Doxford will be playing their own part at the main events.”