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Lap of Honour website for Suffolk's Olympics stars
By Andrew Woodger
BBC Suffolk

British rowing hopefuls Ben Hicks and Josh Tonnar are interviewed for Lap of Honour
Ben Hicks and Josh Tonnar are hoping to be selected for rowing in 2012

A video project celebrating Suffolk's Olympians past and present has launched a website.

Lap of Honour has interviewed sports people including Felixstowe athlete Stan Cox, who was at London 1948 and Helsinki 1952.

The project has a budget of £200,000 over four years.

"In our first year we worked with young people with disabilities, training them with video and interviewing skills," said Blue King, project co-ordinator.

The core of the project is interviews with Suffolk sports people who've been remembering their Olympic experiences - dating from the London games of 1948 through to people like Daniel King, who is hoping to be selected for race walking in 2012.

One thing the project highlights is the changing history of sports sponsorship. Official backing became more important and it helped Sandie Lister, Vickey Dixon and Joanne Thompson who were part of the GB women's hockey team who, in 1992, were able to take time off from work to focus on training.

Joanne Thompson, Great Britian women's hockey goalkeep, Atlanta 1996
Joanne Thompson keeps goal for Britain at Atlanta 1996

They missed out in South Korea in 1988, but won a bronze in Barcelona four years later.

"There seems to be a big difference between the people who received lottery funding and people who were totally self-financed," said Blue.

"The hockey women talk about the first games they were in and having to pay for everything. And then the next games they were in, there was a conveyor belt of freebies.

"It has made a huge difference in the opportunities people have had to further their training, travel abroad and buy the latest equipment."

Project history

Lap of Honour got underway in 2008.

"It started when people from Suffolk County Council, the museums service, Optua and Suffolk Artlink came together to see how they could create a project around 2012," said Blue.

"They realised there wasn't anything in the Suffolk Record Office or museum service about local people who had contributed to the Olympic or Paralympic Games.

"The work is very concerned with reaching out into the community to people who don't often get invited to be part of projects.

"In our first year we were working with 72 young people exploring the seven Olympic values [determination, inspiration, equality, friendship, courage, respect and excellence] and that was great fun and we're going to continue with the community training over the next couple of years."

The fruits of the project can be seen on the Lap of Honour website.

Artlink to the past

Felixstowe athlete Stan Cox interviewed by BBC Suffolk's Rob Dunger
Stan Cox is interviewed by BBC Suffolk's Rob Dunger

"The first person that was interviewed was Stan Cox from Felixstowe," said Blue. "That immediately gave us a link to a previous time that the games had taken place in London, so we've now got a lovely timeline from 1948 to 2012.

"Touch a keyboard and you've got a piece of archive film footage or images of Olympic memorabilia, so using the web hopefully brings alive the filmed interviews and we've also got the transcripts alongside.

"This is the very beginning of the website and it will grow as we add more things and we'll also be doing podcasts."

For people who don't have internet access, all the gathered material will be at the Suffolk Record Office and the unedited films will go to the East Anglian Film Archive.

Starting in 2011, Lap of Honour will have a touring exhibition which will visit Ipswich, Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds for six months at each venue.

Taking up the baton

Suffolk Artlink hopes the Lap of Honour project can inspire other artistic endeavours.

"It can be a real inspiration for artists to make work around the Olympics, reminiscence, storytelling or artefacts," said Blue. "If you're a dancer, musician, fine artist or photographer then there's lots in the project to stimulate work.

"I see that as being a very rich contribution to the legacy of 2012. At the end of the project we'll have a couple of hundred people and they can use video equipment and can make their own projects."




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