Bognor residents share they London 2012 experiences

Laura Cartledge meets two volunteers whose life is still being changed by the London Olympics.

Monday, 8th August 2016, 4:01 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 12:37 am
Bognor Regis friends, Margaret Murphy, Jenny Hicklin and Julie Gillson (from L - R) are part of the Games Maker Choir which is singing at the Rugby World Cup, and will sing in the final SUS-151027-135520001

If you put me on a podium and asked me to sing the national anthem, I’ll admit I would probably have to hum parts of it.

This, and the fact you often see team line ups struggle with the words, is just one reason I am in awe of the Games Maker Choir.

Member Jenny Hicklin not only has to sing the British one to a different tune, due to being a tenor, she reveals the group sees performing for other nationalities as their ‘USP’.

(Main picture) The choir at Wembley. (Below from left) Friends Julie Gilson, Jenny Hicklin and Margaret Murphy at the Rugby World Cup

“Samoan is the hardest one,” she smiles, “but Welsh is quite close.

“We sing without the words in front of us, it all has to be in our head - South Africa’s is our favourite.”

As well as allowing her to travel the world, the choir gave Jenny a remarkable new connection with home in the form of soprano Margaret Murphy.

“We were both born and bred in Bognor Regis but we hadn’t met until the Games Maker Choir,” she reveals, adding that by remarkable coincidence they discovered Jenny had lived next door to Margaret’s aunt.

“I have photos of me in what was to become Jenny’s garden,” Margaret laughs.

Both are passionate volunteers, with Jenny calling it ‘such a lovely way to fill your life’, which led them to being involved in the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics.

“People kept saying how good the volunteers were, saying ‘thank you’ and we would say ‘what for?’ We were having the time of our lives,” recalls Margaret. “We just didn’t want to let it go, we loved it.”

This is where Victoria Verbi stepped into help, having the idea to form a choir which now prides itself on being a legacy to the games.

“She put a message in the volunteer newsletter. That was on the Friday I believe, and by the Monday she had 200 people,” says Margaret. “We have just gone from strength to strength, we call ourselves a family and we are very much a family.

“We all have different skills, different backgrounds - lawyers, teachers, everything - and we all help each other.”

Monthly meetings, held in the capital, see members still fly in from across the country - proof that team spirit lasted longer than a summer.

To read the full story in this month’s etc Magazine click here