Olympic flame still burns for Games Time Kent Greeter Stuart

An Ashford man whose Olympic dream died when illness robbed him of his place at the 1964 Tokyo Games will be helping visitors to the county make the most of this year’s event after signing up as a Games Time Kent Greeter.

Stuart Moss, 66, originally from Liverpool but now of Kingsnorth, was selected for the Great Britain 4×200 metres freestyle swimming team for the 1964 Games, but was struck down by mumps and had to withdraw less than a month before the opening ceremony.

“I’d been to visit my Godson who had mumps but I thought I was okay as I wrongly thought I’d had them,” said Stuart. “I’d been feeling off colour for a while when three to four weeks before the Tokyo Games were due to start I was diagnosed as having mumps myself and told I couldn’t travel.

“I was devastated. As an 18-year-old, it really knocked me back.”

He was left to follow events in Japan from afar as the Great Britain team was eliminated in the heats and the Americans went on to claim gold.

Stuart went on to build a successful career as a mechanical engineer in the oil and power industries, travelling the world including Africa and the Far East, before a job in Rochester led to him settling in Kent in 1999.

Now he is busy preparing for his role as a Games Time Kent Greeter. Greeters will be on hand to provide support and advice to residents and visitors from July 17 to September 9. Greeters will be located along the route of the Torch Relay, including special events, and at key transport hubs such as Dover, Ebbsfleet and Ashford during the Olympics and Paralympics.

“When I heard about the Games Time Kent Greeters I wanted to volunteer,” said Stuart.

“It wasn’t so much to do with what happened in 1964, but much more about giving something back to Kent. It is a wonderful county which has been so kind to us since we settled here.”

Stuart will meet up with fellow successful Games Time Kent Greeter volunteers to begin their training next month.

Visit Kent is actively recruiting Games Time Kent Greeters and there is still time to apply to be part of this once in a lifetime experience and to be part of the London 2012 experience.

Volunteers need to be over 18 years old with an overriding enthusiasm for the Games, the county and meeting new people. No specific skills or qualifications are required and training will be provided.

In return for giving their time for free, Games Time Kent Greeters will be part of a group of like-minded people, benefit from certificated training opportunities, and receive an official 2012 Ambassador’s uniform and backpack.

The project is funded by Kent County Council’s Sport, Leisure and Olympics Service, and is delivered in partnership with Voluntary Action Maidstone.

Sandra Matthews-Marsh, chief executive at Visit Kent, said: “Stuart and our other volunteers are making the most of a tremendous opportunity to play a significant role in the greatest sporting spectacular in the world – helping Kent people and our visitors capture all the excitement of the Games.

“Our Games Time Kent Greeters will be our frontline ambassadors welcoming our guests from across the world. They will be helping our visitors have such a memorable and enjoyable experience that they will want to return to Kent in years to come and will recommend the Garden of England as a great destination to all their friends and families.”

Apply online at www.visitkentbusiness.co.uk/gamestimegreeters or telephone Visit Kent on 01227 812908 for further details and an application form.

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