Olympic legend impressed by Dereham 2012 project

An Olympic legend visited Dereham on Thursday to find out how London 2012 was inspiring townsfolk to improve their lives.

Triple jumper Jonathan Edwards, who is now a board member for the Games, was impressed by the excitement over the event in Norfolk during his visit which took in three parts of the county.

Beginning the day in Dereham, the world record holder joined users of the town's day service centre on their Team East For Skills sports leadership programme.

Organised by Creative Arts East and Football in the Community, the project helps unemployed adults with physical and learning disabilities to work towards an entry-level qualification in coaching.

After taking part in a theory session looking at the importance of warming up, he then got on his feet to join in with some football-inspired drills.

He said the scheme was a perfect example of what the legacy of the Olympics could mean.

'We think of the Olympics and Paralympics as this big glitzy affair but, through the Inspire mark, 2012 is here in rural Norfolk working with some of the most disadvantaged people,' he said.

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'We never wanted it to be an elite party in the summer of 2012. We want it to have a broad-reaching effect.'

Natalie Jode, deputy director of Creative Arts East, said the Team East for Skills programme was a three-year scheme which used a range of sports and arts activities to engage people.

'It's about using the ethos of the Olympics - raising spirits, being the best you can be and personal development - to support economically inactive adults who face barriers into work and education,' she said.

Mr Edwards said he was impressed with the way Dereham and the rest of the county was using the Games to inspire people to get involved with volunteering and learn about new cultures.

He said: 'There has been a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm for the Games everywhere I have been in Norfolk and people are really excited about the Games coming to London.

'For me, what I have seen in Norfolk has embodied the magic of 2012. Yes, it is being held in London, but the Olympics is about the grass roots and improving people's lives.

'People are working really hard here to bring 2012 to life in Norfolk and to come here and see how the Games will benefit people has been really exciting.'