A CALL for the public to be ambassadors for the London Olympics in Cumbria next summer was made at the Cumbria 2012 Conference on Friday.

The event at Kendal College, hosted by Active Cumbria saw representatives from sporting bodies, community groups and councils across Cumbria gather to find out how the county would benefit next summer and what could be done to make the most of the sporting spectacle.

North West co-ordinator for the Games, Rob Young, explained 251 North West businesses have won 421 contracts relating to the Games, while 220 projects around the region have received the Inspire Mark award.

He said 2,450 schools had joined the Get Set network, while seven sites are busy preparing to host 23 countries as Pre-Games Training Camps.

But more importantly, Mr Young said it was now the time for the public to become ambassadors for the area through a Local Leaders initiative which aims to get those people who will not compete, officiate or volunteer at the Olympics next summer, involved in their own communities.

The scheme could see people organise events to line the route of the Olympic torch relay, or to decorate the streets to show the area’s support for the Olympics, bringing the atmosphere and spirit of London 2012 to the masses.

He said: “Be ready, be an ambassador and grab the Olympics by both hands and make the most of the opportunity ahead.”

During the conference, Julie Tait, director of Kendal Arts International, discussed plans for Lakes Alive’s London 2012 Festival event, which will be held in Bowness on June 21, to coincide with the torch relay’s, while Kendal Mountain Festival’s Robin Ashcroft said his team also plan to be involved with localised events when Olympic fever sets in.

The audience heard from South Lakeland District Council’s Imelda Winters-Smith Lewis, Arup Majhi from Carlisle City Council and Vision England CEO James Berresford, who said Cumbria was ahead of the game with their marketing around the Games.

Richard Johnston and Bruce Lawson from Active Cumbria revealed how a Sport Makers project launched last month has already attracted 206 participants, 10 per cent of the national uptake to date.

Question and answer sessions were held with Games officials and potential GamesMakers, before Cumbria’s Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls answered questions on how they have made it to the brink of a home Olympic Games and what they need to do to ensure a spot on their respective GB squads.

The afternoon was concluded by guest speaker Alan Bell from Carlisle, who will be the chief starter for the Games.

Mr Bell engaged the audience with an array of anecdotes from his time as a starter on the global scene which has seen him officiate at 12 world championships, four European Cup finals, three European Championships and two Olympic Games, as well as numerous one-off meetings around the world.

* Information: www.activecumbria.org.uk, www.nwbeinspired.com, www.london2012.com/localleaders