There were tales of Rebecca Adlington, Usain Bolt and Sebastian Coe when North Yorkshire father-of-three Matthew Cobley dropped into his childrens’ school.
Mr Cobley, who lives in Ripon, North Yorkshire, has three boys at independent prep school Belmont Grosvenor and is currently chairman of the school’s PTA.
But for two weeks this summer, his everyday life was put on hold when he volunteered as a Games Maker at the London Olympic Games.
Belmont Grosvenor School, based at Swarcliffe Hall, Birstwith, has a special Olympic connection – double Olympic Gold medal-winning rower Andy Triggs Hodge is a former pupil and returned to his school after the Beijing Games.
Mr Cobley, who worked as a driver throughout the two-weeks of the games said:
It really was an incredible experience, a once-in-a-lifetime event. The atmosphere was great. I have an awful lot of happy memories – the Olympics really brought everyone together.
Based in the Olympic Village, Mr Cobley ferried athletes, and members of the Olympic family, to and from Games’ venues using the reserved Olympic lanes and finding his way around London thanks to the specially-designed Olympic satellite navigation system.
One of the most famous passengers in his car was swimmer Rebecca Adlington, who he drove to a top London hotel where she was having afternoon tea with friends.
And he narrowly missed having Usain Bolt in his car – but still managed to meet the legendary sprinter, along with a long list of other Olympic medal winning athletes, including cyclists Laura Trott and Jason Kenny, and even Lord Coe!
Mr Cobley, whose wife Anna and three young sons James, 8, Harry, 5, and Charlie, 3, joined him in London during the second week of his volunteering, visited Belmont Grosvenor School to share his experiences with pupils.
He showed them the Olympic baton and certificate he had been presented with, along with special badges he had received as a thank-you for working as a Games Maker at the Olympics.
And he encouraged the schools’ pupils to think about the benefits of volunteering in the future.
Mr Cobley speaking to pupils at the independent prep school:
It’s not something you get paid for, and it costs you some time, but it is a great and rewarding thing to do.
Headteacher Jane Merriman said:
The Olympic message of ‘ inspiring a generation’ goes beyond sporting excellence, but also gives a message to others about the importance of serving others.
The Games Makers played a huge part in the success of London 2012 and hopefully the legacy of the Games will inspire our children to selflessly give up their time to volunteer in the future.