Hertfordshire gets ready for 2012 Olympics

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Herts is Ready for Winners is the county’s official partnership in supporting the 2012 Olympics and aims to deliver a legacy for the county.

Here, the partnership talks about its goals for next year, and what Hertfordshire can expect to get out of the Games.

Why is it important for a county such as Hertfordshire to become involved with the Olympics?

The spotlight will be on Hertfordshire in 2012 when the county hosts the Canoe Slalom Event as part of the London 2012 Games. With London right on Hertfordshire’s doorstep the county is ideally placed to take advantage of all the opportunities the games is bringing. Herts is Ready for Winners has five ambitions it aims to achieve for the county:

1. Healthier and closer communities through increased participation in sport, competition, cultural events and volunteering.

2. Increased opportunities for young people through education and the growth of a countywide talented young athletes programme.

3. A world class sports facility available to everyone which delivers a sporting and cultural legacy.

4. A stronger Hertfordshire economy and regeneration opportunities.

5. A communications framework which uses the Games to inspire those who live, work, study and visit the county.

What successes has the partnership had?

With just under a year to go until the Olympics and Paralympics, Herts is Ready for Winners has already had some notable successes. Among the achievements is the raising of £3,500 for the Hertfordshire Talented Athlete Programme, achieving the Inspire Mark for its work in encouraging participants to take up their challenges and taster sessions locally and to help them discover what is available on their doorstep, and holding more than 150 presentations to local businesses, schools and other groups.

Training camps have been identified throughout the county – what nations have shown an interest in using these?

Over 600 facilities across the UK are approved pre-games training camps for Olympic and Paralympic teams. Hertfordshire has 17 training camps, which offer wide ranging sports facilities from athletics to gymnastics and fencing to wrestling.

The Caribbean nations of the British Virgin Islands, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis (and now St Vincent and the Grenadines - ed) will live locally and train in county training camps during the build-up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The British Virgin Islands were the first to commit followed by St Lucia and St Kitts and Nevis.

The British Virgin Islands team will be hosted within Aston, near Stevenage, and the villagers there have already hosted a BVI discus thrower, Eric Matthias, who came over to Hertfordshire last summer for training.

Not all National Olympic Committees have signed up yet so Herts is Ready hopes to get more.

How has the organisation involved local businesses?

Hertfordshire businesses are already benefiting; the county has the highest sign-up in the region for CompeteFor the London 2012 contract opportunities website and this has resulted in 122 contracts, worth a minimum of £30-38 million already for Hertfordshire companies. Companies in Hertfordshire have also been awarded £646m in construction contracts from the Olympic Delivery Authority.

Hertfordshire is Ready for Winners has also run a number of award-winning Business Breakfast events, promoting CompeteFor as well as offering tips on how to get your business ready for the Games, networking opportunities and the chance to hear from local firms

that have successfully won Olympic contracts.

How has Herts is Ready involved Hertfordshire residents?

We have a number of initiatives designed to get the people of Hertfordshire involved, from advice on hosting athletes to Olympic Park tours, cultural Olympiad events and getting back into sport,’ says Herts 2012 ambassador John Fuller. ‘Also as part of the partnership’s commitment to closer and healthier communities we have developed a volunteering scheme that enables the local communities of Hertfordshire to embrace the magic of London 2012 and organise events and activities that will involve volunteers.

‘The scheme that is being rolled out through the Hertfordshire Volunteer Centres will also develop a bank of 2012 inspired volunteers who can be deployed across the county during Games-time and in activities and events inspired by London 2012.

And how about school involvement?

Get Set is the official London 2012 education programme for schools, college and local authority education providers across the UK.

Hertfordshire schools are leading the way when it comes to Get Set registrations. With 85 per cent of schools registered for the London 2012 education programme, the county has a higher proportion

of registrations than any other in

the country.

So far 142 Hertfordshire schools have become a member of the Get Set Network, which offers further resources, competitions and opportunities, and network schools in Hertfordshire have been rewarded with a free rafting experience at the Lee Valley White Water Centre as part of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority’s Schools Festival.

What has been the response to the opening of the Lee Valley White Water Centre?

The Lee Valley White Water Centre is the only brand new London 2012 venue to open to the public ahead of the Games; visitors can now get their adrenalin fix rafting and canoeing the rapids on the courses ahead of the Olympians.

The centre, owned and managed by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, is the best centre of its type anywhere in the world – guaranteed white water with two separate courses, creating a brand new rafting attraction.

With just under a year to go until the Olympics, has the organisation got a final push planned?

The partnership’s plan over the next 12 months is to keep focused on achieving its five ambitions, promoting initiatives such as Get Set, CompeteFor and get our Herts is Ready for Winners Volunteers deployed throughout the county.

Visit the website http://www.hertsisreadyforwinners.co.uk/ or email herts2012@hertscc.gov.uk

Who’s who?

Hertfordshire is Ready for Winners has a core team of five personnel:

John Fuller – Herts 2012 ambassador

Gareth Morgan – Herts 2012 manager

Jon Heyes – Herts 2012 project officer

Sophie Dannatt – Herts 2012 communication officer

Sally Stanley – Herts 2012 senior support officer

In addition, Lord Salisbury is the organisation’s patron while Hertfordshire County Council executive member Derrick Ashley is the chairman and leader of Broxbourne Council Paul Mason is the deputy chairman.

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