27 July 2012

Let the Games begin

DANNY Boyle’s Olympic opening extravaganza on 27 July showcased the best of British: from the NHS and the UK's history of immigration to the Suffragette movement and Harry Potter.

Entitled ‘Isles of Wonder’ – inspired by Shakespeare play ‘The Tempest’ – the ceremony kept things local when it opened with the ringing of the largest harmonically-tuned bell in the world, produced by East London’s Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Over 10,000 volunteers took part in the opening ceremony – many of them East Londoners. Web developer Andrew Charles played the part of a factory worker.

He said: "I live in Hackney Wick – so really close to the stadium. I wanted to be part of the Games as they’re on 
my doorstep. Last night was so amazing. It’s been an awesome experience."

Maureen Philogene, founder member of Hackney carnival group, Tropical Isles, was a nurse in the NHS section.

She said: "I believe the Olympic legacy will last. I’ve been going to the stadium for six weeks for rehearsals and I’ve seen it grow and get better. This is definitely a good thing for East London."

Two young people from Skinners’ Academy also took part in the opening ceremony as ‘petal children’ in the athletes’ parade. Conrad, 13, said of the experience: "I can’t put it into words – it was amazing!"

Mercy, 12, revealed she got to meet Usain Bolt. She said: "He was really tall, calm and relaxed – not like a celebrity. I even got to shake his hand and gave him a hug.

"It was a great opportunity that doesn’t come round often, especially for children like us. None of us thought the Olympics would involve Hackney kids."

But that is exactly the sort of legacy Danny Boyle – and London 2012 itself – hopes to achieve.

The Olympic opening ceremony kept things local

The Olympic opening ceremony kept things local

The Olympic opening ceremony kept things local Hundreds of people from Hackney were involved in the Olympics opening ceremony


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