For our Ministructures series, artist Lucy Sparrow sews us a mini version of a famous London landmark each week. For each one she makes, we interview a person with an interesting story to tell about it. Today we meet Robin Goodchild, 35, Head of Operations at the EDF Energy London Eye.
Wheely good to meet you, Robin! What do you do here?
‘I oversee the day-to-day operation of the Eye – while making sure our guests have a good time. I’d love to take full credit, but I’m part of a team of 300 people that keep things going on a daily basis.’
What kinds of stuff do you get up to?
‘When I first started here I had to oversee a car launch – Fiat wanted to drive a car into one of the capsules.’
‘Really. We had to work out how to do it safely. In the end, to get the car on the Eye we had to remove some glass and put rollers out for the car to drive up, straight into the capsule. We got it in, and the car stayed there all day just going round and round – there were thousands of people taking pictures of it. Fiat definitely got their money’s worth!’
Any other mad stunts?
‘For the Olympics we had Amelia Hempleman-Adams [the youngest person to ski to the South Pole two years ago] standing on top of one of the capsules holding the Torch. When you’re told “we’re going to put someone on top of the wheel” you’re pulling your hair out – but we managed to construct a nice piece of safety kit, and it was all done and dusted by the time we came in to work that day.’
Phew! What’s it like having responsibility for such a landmark?
‘It’s awesome, because the Eye’s pretty much the face of London. You see it on TV every night. Any news item on London, it’s there – it’s even in the highlights of the “X Factor”. And actually boarding the Eye is like escapism from the hustle and bustle of the city.’
What do you get up to when you’re not keeping the Eye turning?
‘I play a sport called korfball. And I keep chickens in my back garden. I can sell you some eggs, if you like.’
We might take you up on that. Tell us something we might not know about the London Eye.
‘All the grease we use on the Eye is edible.’
‘It keeps it safe for the environment. It’s a food-based grease, similar to the grease used in industrial bread makers.’
We must try it some time. What do you think of our baby London Eye?
‘I love it. The first thing I thought when I saw it was “I wonder if it has 32 capsules” – and it did! Very impressive.’ Interview: Flo Wales Bonner