The process began with a simple application on the Olympics website, and an email to me asking if I wanted to attend an audition. Two auditions later, I was in! Though at that time I was not too sure what I was in for...
The first rehearsals in early May were awkward. Volunteers didn't know each other, and small talk was the norm. We were asked to form buddy lines, and we were each assigned a bib number, and jokingly to be known as that bib number for the rest of the rehearsals period. (I was 916.)
Initially we were rehearsing in Bromley-By-Bow, but after a couple weeks we were told to show up at a bigger rehearsal space in Dagenham. There was a shuttle bus that took us from the tube station to the actual site, a former Ford factory. What we didn't know then was that our rehearsals were to be done outside, whether rain or shine, cold or hot weather, it had to be done. Weekend after weekend we trudged to Dagenham, learning new moves, and getting to know each other better. Danny Boyle was a constant presence, and he took the time to try to talk to each and every one of us, and he even took the time to autograph mementos (even the bibs).
The rehearsals moved to the Olympic Stadium in mid-June, and we volunteers were forming more than just friendships. We were starting to realise we were taking part in something that was larger than anyone of us could've imagined, and something that very few people will ever experience in their lifetime.
In the final nine days of rehearsals, we had to wait hours to have our turn in the stadium to practice our routine, and we whittled away the time in the costume area in Eaton Manor. While waiting, we had picnics in the nice warm weather, and took lots of lots of photos of each other.
Once we actually got to the stadium, we all knew our routine; it was just a matter of fine tuning it. Sure, some things were changed to make it go quicker, but by the final week we were more than ready for our first dress rehearsal on that Monday in front of a crowd. As we got to the final rehearsal, we all realised that this experience would very soon come to an end. And on the Opening Ceremonies night, as we walked to the stadium with a sense of pride and determination, and we were all very emotional and very excited.
Only in the moment as we stood behind the black curtain did we realise the enormity of this. Our 24 days and 150 hours of rehearsal time came down to this: this moment to do England proud.