The opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games took place ten years ago today, ushering in the second half of the capital’s epic sporting summer and showcasing still more fully the exceptional accessibility of the Olympic Park and its buildings, including the sports venues and the athletes village. This was rigorously designed in from the beginning, driven from the top by Olympic Delivery Authority director of design and regeneration Alison Nimmo, and long-time Paralympics stalwart Tony Sainsbury. It remains a source of pride.
The ceremony, named Enlightenment, was directed by Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings and inspired by William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It included performances by Ian McKellen as Prospero and Nicola Miles-Wildin as Miranda. Stephen Hawking made an appearance and there was a rendition of Ian Dury’s raucous Spasticus Autisticus. Here’s the full show.
Twelve days and 120 medals for Great Britain’s Paralympians team later, there was a closing ceremony too, on 10 September 2012. Nimmo, who had devoted eight years to helping London become the 2012 Host City and to creating the Park, attended. Interviewed by me for a recent edition of BBC Radio 4’s Archive On Four, she said she “cried with joy” throughout.
Dave Hill is the author of Olympic Park: When Britain Built Something Big, which can be bought directly from this website or from Pages of Hackney bookshop. Photograph of Olympic Stadium taken in September 2012.
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