OVER 100,000 expectant spectators looking on, millions of viewers worldwide, and the intimidating cauldron of the immense Sydney Olympic Stadium at over 30 degrees Celsius – an incredible and nerve-wracking scene that few people will ever experience.
For Naomi Pearce, (pictured, above) from Waitrose in Winton, this was a reality. After three weeks of tough preparation, Naomi, 27, was the Principle Tenor Horn player alongside 2,000 people from all over the world, in the Olympic band that performed in the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
“It was hard work, we trained at 9am every morning for three weeks and temperatures were as cold as -8 degrees Celsius. It was so cold that I got bronchitis whilst I was over there!
“In the stadium at night, it was 30 degrees. With our uniforms on and the stadium lights on us it was very hot. The conditions are tough but the experience was amazing.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that few people experience. To have that many people performing the same routine in the Olympic stadium at one time was incredible.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to experience the world and build confidence. I gained a lot of independence and saw the most amazing places. I am very lucky to have done so.
As part of the Hampshire County Youth Brass Band, Naomi, who has been a Partner at Waitrose for over two and a half years, was one of five members of the band to be selected by their conductor to perform in Australia. Three weeks of hard graft was well rewarded with an encapsulating experience that was a highlight of her well-travelled life.
Naomi, from Woodfalls, Salisbury, started her journey at the University College of London, where she studied a degree in French and Italian. As part of the course, she travelled in Europe for a year to work and learn about different cultures and developing as a person.
She began the adventure in Avignon, France, where she worked in a restaurant for seven months. This allowed her to raise enough funds to travel across Italy, and particularly Salerno, along the picturesque Amalfi Coast, south of Naples.
There she studied the French Patoi, a traditional regional dialect, which she also did for her dissertation at University. Her work in Avignon and Corsica, where she worked for a few weeks, had allowed her to travel without working whilst she was in Italy.
“I lived with one English person, two Portuguese people and two Polish people. They became great friends that have remained for a lifetime.
“I also got to travel a lot and experience much more of the Italian culture. I went to places like Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii, which were absolutely stunning.
Her tours with the Hampshire County Youth Band, with Sydney being the pick of the bunch, have also taken her to China and the USA. She also went to Switzerland with her local brass band, Woodfalls Concert Brass, a group based near the New Forest. The band have recently completed their summer season of concerts, which were sponsored by Waitrose. Naomi was delighted that her contacts gave the band an opportunity for sponsorship.
“The concerts have gone really well, it’s a non profit making organisation but expenses still have to be paid so sponsorship was great. Sponsorship is hard to get and Waitrose were very helpful. Having the contact with them has helped significantly.
Away from the horn, Naomi began her working career at a Pension Company and then an Insurance Provider – both administrative roles within the customer services department. She then moved up to Bracknell, Berkshire, to complete a graduate management course and moved straight into her management role in Winton.
“You can only apply to the management course with a degree, so that definitely helped. But they look at you as a person as much as the qualifications you have.
Since moving to the Winton branch, she has enjoyed a demanding yet rewarding role that carries a huge of amount of responsibility in how the branch is run.
“The role includes devising ways to boost sales, taking charge of the pay structure and key result areas. The job is very results orientated and have to strive to improve those figures as best as I can.
“I enjoy managing Partner’s development and working with trainees. The responsibilities of running the shop floor and dealing with customers and complaints are also very satisfying.
Naomi would definitely agree that the balance between work and life at home is important for a relaxed lifestyle. Away from her hard work at Waitrose, she likes to do Pilates, walking, cycling and mountain biking. She also plans to start a digital photography course in January.
It’s clear that her relaxed and calm character reflected how she balanced life in and out of work effectively. Naomi’s always been looking for new challenges and pursuits, although the demanding hours as a Department Manager can often hold her back.
“The demanding hours can sometimes restrict you from exploring more of the world and pursuing more interests, but I think I have got a good balanced lifestyle.
As for the future, Naomi is always looking to develop her career and for another stepping stone.
“I would certainly like to move on and further my career in the future. I’m always looking for my next challenge; working for the partnership is great as well. It has many benefits and you have to take responsibility and work hard as it is a partnership. In return, the rewards are much greater.”