High-flying Norfolk woman achieves coveted Gold Coast Commonwealth Games job
- Credit: Archant
When she began her career as a lowly events assistant, Victoria Blake could scarcely have imagined she would one day have a leading role in one of the world's top sporting events.
But after more than a decade of hard work and a little bit of luck along the way, the 34-year-old's determination has paid off in a way she could barely have dreamed of.
Although she is currently working as operations manager at the main stadium for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Miss Blake had never set her sights on helping to manage a major sporting event.
Born and bred in Norwich, Miss Blake – who has a tattoo which reads 'life is what you make it' – went to Sprowston High School before studying for her degree at City College Norwich.
Like many of us, she began her career right at the foot of the ladder as an events assistant at Norwich City Council.
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Yet she was clearly destined for greater things, moving onto Cancer Research UK in London – where she organised an overnight walking marathon – and the 2012 Olympics, as event services venue manager at ExCeL in London.
After five years as events manager at the Norfolk Showground, she took a chance in applying for what looked like a dream job managing operations during the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Carrara Stadium in Australia.
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Waking up at 4am in the UK in for a Skype interview, she managed to convince organisers she would be the best person to manage operations the 35,000 capacity venue which is hosting both the opening and closing ceremonies.
Anyone who thinks it is a nice leisurely trip abroad would be sorely mistaken – Miss Blake walked the equivalent of 36km, or 50,000 steps, for the opening ceremony as she helped manage thousands of people coming in and out of the venue.
She generally walks 40,000 steps a day as the stadium hosts numerous athletics events and works with areas such as catering, ticketing, sponsorship, medical and security to make sure everything is running smoothly.
But the opportunity still has its benefits – she lives in an apartment overlooking Surfers Paradise beach and the ocean, which she says is a 'far cry from Norwich'.
'I think I've annoyed all my friends with photos of the sun and beach whilst they've had snow,' she joked.
She added: 'I still have to pinch myself that I am now working on the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
'It's been challenging, exhausting and hard at times but so utterly rewarding and such a great experience.
'To stand back during the opening ceremony and think I am a part of something being watched by 1bn people round the world was truly remarkable.
'It has been my dream to live and work abroad my whole life, so this literally is a dream come true.
'When I stand back and see everything, I feel such an overwhelming sense of achievement.
'I would say to anyone thinking they can't do something to follow their dreams and believe anything is possible. I have taken a few leaps of faith in my career and they have paid off so I'm very lucky.
'I was the first person in my family ever to do a degree. It goes to show that it doesn't matter what background you're from or if you don't have a degree, if you're willing to work hard and put everything into it you can succeed.
'I have a tattoo which says life is what you make it and I truly believe that.'
After the games finish on April 15, Miss Blake will take a well-earned holiday before heading back to Norwich to decide on her next challenge.