FOR almost everyone the London Olympics was just a wonderful event in its own right. For Kathryn McNicoll volunteering though healed a 40-year wound.

Mrs Forty had been a volunteer at the Munich games in 1972, when terrorists murdered some of the Israeli team.

“Taking part in the London Olympics helped me to lay the ghost of the games at Munich and the memories of the tragedy which marred those games,” said Mrs McNicoll, 62, who lives in Linkside Avenue, North Oxford, with her husband James.

Now she is featuring in a National Lottery-backed film of the Games Maker choir, made up of volunteers from the London 2012 and the Paralympics who aim to keep the spirit of the events alive.

They have sung together at numerous events, including the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards and helped to launch Glasgow 2014’s volunteering initiative for the Commonwealth Games.

Recalling her first Olympic experience, Mrs McNicoll said: “The first week at Munich was wonderful and it had such a good atmosphere. I was on a gap year in Germany as a student and thought it would be fun to volunteer.

“I was an usherette taking tickets in the gym hall and got to see some great gymnasts include Soviet-born Olga Korbut, who won three gold medals.

“I carried on as a volunteer at Munich after the deaths, but it was quite unpleasant afterwards and I remember the gym hall had to be cleared at one point because of a bomb scare.

“We didn’t know too much about the massacre at the time and didn’t witness the events but we knew something terrible had happened and it felt like a long time before we found everything out.”

Mrs McNicoll, who teaches English as a foreign language part-time, was one of 70,000 volunteers at the London Olympics and also worked as a volunteer at the Paralympic Games last year.

She is a volunteer for Oxfordshire ARCh (Assisted Reading for Children) and said: “Being able to return to the Olympic spirit on my home turf was a dream come true.

“Volunteering is a passion of mine and being able to help children who are struggling is so rewarding.

“The London Olympics was on a much larger scale than Munich and it ran so smoothly and efficiently.

“It wasn’t at all clinical – everyone was so enthusiastic – and it gave everyone a boost.”

At London 2012, mum-of-three Mrs McNicoll, who has two grandchildren, worked with rowers from Monaco at their base in Egham, Surrey.

She added: “I was also in the Olympic village and one of the reasons the Olympics got such a great response from the public was because there were so many volunteers around ready to help out or stop for a chat.”

She said the London Olympics could be her last games as a volunteer, but added: “I doubt if I will make it to a third Olympic Games but never say never.”

To watch the Volunteers Anthem, visit lotterygoodcauses.


The Munich Massacre began at the games on September 5, 1972.

Eight Palestinian terrorists killed two members of the Israeli Olympic team and then took nine others hostage.

The situation was ended by a gunfight that left five of the terrorists and all of the nine hostages dead.

Following the massacre, the Israeli government organised retaliation against the Black September group, called Operation Wrath of God.

While the massacre overshadowed the games, there were stunning achievements from competitors, including United States swimmer Mark Spitz winning seven gold medals.