Thursday, 20 October 2011

Please don’t sound like an idiot!

Please don’t sound like an idiot!
That was the only thought running through my head this Saturday as I stood facing Steve Redgrave, five time Olympic gold medallist.
I was working the University of Greenwich Open Day on the Maritime Campus and when I woke up at the horrible time of 6am, I had no idea that this would be the day that I faced a rowing legend and his daughter.  He was showing her around the University and as they came out of the Cutty Sark DLR station, I exchanged looks with my Open Day partner, dumbstruck. It was one of those moments where you’re not sure if you should move and address him or not and by the time you’ve plucked up the courage to do something about it, he’s disappeared off towards the University even after you’ve given him the directions. It was a surreal moment and I think we both dwelled on the experience for a good half an hour before the lunch hour struck and we were far more focussed on eating.
Not two hours later, I was standing in the lobby of the Queen Anne building when I was once again approached by Steve, this time to tell me they had the missed the last accommodation tour and did I mind taking them to catch up. Despite wanting desperately to take Steve myself, I looked for a member of the tour group team and there wasn’t anybody. Letting myself have a private inward cheer, I led Steve through the University and towards the Cutty Sark accommodation halls. Along the way, I had a lovely chat with his daughter who really couldn’t decide which University she wanted to study at, although the course itself was non-negotiable. Mentioning the fact that the equestrian Olympics were being held at Greenwich Park and that I had volunteered to help out, I piqued Steve’s interest. Although reluctant to divert attention from his daughter, whose attention I was trying hard to hold – wanting her to actually come to the University! – I was drawn in by the enthusiastic way Steve talked about the Olympics. We discussed horses and my course and his daughter soon joined in when I started to discuss the University itself and all the amazing things we have around, and all within such a short distance.
It wasn’t until I got to the accommodation and people started whispering and pointing that OMG, that’s Steve Redgrave! That I remember just who I was talking to. Not once did I try and sneak a crafty photo or ask for an autograph and it just goes to show that, being such a lovely down-to-earth and humble man, he really is just like us. Like us with five pieces of gold hanging around his metaphorical neck, but human just the same.
I really hope his daughter does come to Greenwich and that she loves it as much as I do. When someone like Steve Redgrave entertains the possibility of letting his daughter come here (despite it being her choice!), it just goes to show that the University of Greenwich has that something special!

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