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Volunteers befriend the Festival

21 January 2007

While spectators have enjoyed a smooth running spectacle during the swimming finals at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF), a group of long-standing supporters praise the event for bringing them together.

Kerry Lambley, Warner Gibbs, Jan Gibbs, Marie O’Connor, Merrilee Parry and Barbara Peel have been volunteers at this year’s AYOF, and have been attending Olympic events together since the year 2000.

“I was out at the beach volleyball for the 2000 Olympics and then I went to the Youth Olympics beach volleyball, and then I went to the gymnastics,” Lambley said.

The volunteers, who have been appointed at the Sydney Aquatic Centre this time around, believe the atmosphere of the event is well worth their gruelling schedule, and enjoy every event they experience as if it was their first.

“Just the fun of it. It’s very fun here.

“It’s still exciting, because we all get to meet again, and just to see the talent coming through,” Lambley said.

“We’re all retired and we need something to do to keep the mind picking up,” added Gibbs, who was met with a chorus of “We’re not retired yet!”

In addition to seeing and meeting future Olympians, this particular group of volunteers uses the AYOF as a platform to create and grow their bonds of friendship.

Lambley, who comes from Dee Why, cites the AYOF as a great event in which to catch up with the friends she has made during previous games.

“These ladies come from Newcastle…these people all come from the western suburbs, so we always catch up at these things, and we’re happy to do that.” “We’ve been here for so long,” added O’Connor.

800 volunteers have worked at the AYOF in 2007, supporting athletes and officials at sporting venues, villages and operations.

Maria Tsialis

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