Retired Barkingside cabbie’s Olympics role

A RETIRED cab driver from Barkingside who was watching from the stands last time London held the Olympics will be helping to present the city to the world in 2012.

Gerry Sheridan, of Brunswick Gardens, applied to be an ordinary volunteer at the 2012 games, but was instead asked if he would like to be one of London Mayor Boris Johnson’s ambassadors.

“I’m just an ordinary guy, but if I can help in any way I’m happy to,” said the 77-year-old.

The London Ambassadors will be volunteering for six consecutive days in 2012, helping to share their enthusiasm for the capital with visitors.

Gerry was asked because he was a spectator at the London games in 1948 when he was 15-years-old.

“I remember it rained all day, which is England isn’t it?” he recalled. “I think it was very well organised considering the war only ended three years previously.”

Having been among six school leavers to be given tickets by a teacher, he was able to watch the discus, 4x440 yard relay and the end of the marathon.

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The then-Hackney resident felt he was lucky to be given the opportunity to see the games live: “In 1948 televisions were so rare, very few people had a TV and if you did you had to watch it on a nine inch screen and you can imagine everyone gathered round one of those.”

Gerry’s wife Joan, 73, has also applied to be a volunteer at the games, although she wasn’t lucky enough to win a ticket in 1948.

Gerry said: “I felt proud to be a Londoner at the time. It really did give us a boost three years after the war. We won the war but had to get back on with our lives. Whoever thought of having it had a great idea.”

And he is confident that 2012 will have a similar impact: “It’s much better organised now, we didn’t have the funds in those years. It will give a tremendous lift to this area.”

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