London 2012 opening ceremony volunteers create Olympic legacy on Regent’s Canal

PUBLISHED: 11:03 14 February 2013 | UPDATED: 10:00 15 February 2013

Brian Voakes (front kneeling) and his fellow Olympics opening ceremony volunteers in their original outfits

Brian Voakes (front kneeling) and his fellow Olympics opening ceremony volunteers in their original outfits


A group of London 2012 opening ceremony participants are creating their very own Olympic legacy on the Regent’s Canal.

They were brought together by Danny Boyle’s £27million extravaganza and now hope to channel the spirit of the Games by volunteering for worthy causes.

Their first project will be to spruce up the famous Angel Boat at City Road Basin in Islington – a long-running charity that works with hundreds of young and disabled people from Islington and Hackney.

About 25 volunteers who took part in the Industrial Revolution segment of the Olympics opening ceremony, rolling up the grass that was replaced with towering smokestacks, will spend the next two weekends overhauling the narrowboat, officially named the Angel II of Islington.

Brian Voakes, 57, of Culford Road, De Beauvoir, a trustee of the charity for the past 13 years, said: “We’re taking the boat to a boatyard in Uxbridge where we will take it out of the water.

“The water is incredibly hard on any boat and a lot needs doing every year. We will be re-sanding, removing rust, re-painting everything – and every year we have to have new curtains!

“It’s a great first project because the waterways were important to the Industrial Revolution.”

Mr Voakes said the opening ceremony participants were split into teams of about 100, each named after a county, and theirs was the Kingdom of Fife.

He added: “It’s not the most hospitable time of the year, yet 25 volunteers are ready to help out. Usually we just have a skeleton crew to do the work.

“We’re going to do the majority of the real donkey work, which is what we did in the Olympics.”

They will even don their Industrial Revolution outfits as they labour.

Mr Voakes added: “This is part of our Olympic legacy. We were not athletes, but we were part of it and we’re doing what we did in the Olympics.

“The volunteering group gives us the vehicle to maintain our friendships and to see each other.

“We got much more than we bargained for from the Games. We were told on the first night we would make friends for life and none of us believed it. Now we can’t believe we doubted it.”

The Angel Community Canal Boat Trust, which runs the canal boat, takes groups of youngsters and disabled people on trips to learn about the canal, pick up life skills and boost their confidence.

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