Romford Rabbi given free tickets to the Olympic closing ceremony

A Romford rabbi said he was “elated, incredulous and very grateful” after he and six other chaplains were given tickets to the Closing Ceremony in return for a granola bar.

Rabbi Maurice Michaels was handing out food to athletes and coaches on their way to the ceremony.

The group of chaplains had spent the previous three weeks volunteering in the Athlete’s Village and decided to take on an extra shift.

Mr Michaels said: “The man was eating an apple and took some more food and then in return as there were seven of us he said ‘I have seven tickets it’s your lucky day’.”

The chaplains then ran from the Olympic Village down to Stratford station and then to the Olympic Park.

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“It felt like we did a marathon to get there,” he said. “It was just totally unexpected. We had been at the village for three weeks and not seen anything of the games except on the TV then to get that opportunity… The atmosphere was electric.”

After getting to the ceremony a little after it started they were excited to find out that they had front row seats.

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“What was amazing was that we had volunteered do this extra shift and we had been allocated to different teams, we asked the organiser if we could stay together and they said we could so it was just everything coming together.”

The chaplains were stationed in the Athlete’s Village to give support to anyone who needed it during the Games.

They were given extensive training including how to cope if a major disaster, such as a terrorist attack, happened.

The 70-year-old rabbi said: “We were there just in case but thank God nothing happened but we had a few situations. An athlete who lost a close friend and didn’t know what they should go back home and I know it was helpful for that particular athlete to talk to a chaplain.”

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