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»After years of anticpation all was revealed last Friday night – the Olympic Opening Ceremony was brilliant; it was Boyle; it was British

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And Havering residents were among the 1,400 remarkable performers who helped make British history last Friday night.

The ceremony, in the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, started not with a bang but a peaceful, parochial vision of poet William Blake’s green and pleasant land.

It marked the beginning of director Danny Boyles’s masterpiece that was a three-hour, three-part history lesson on Britishness which went on to pay tribute to our industrial past, children’s fiction, the NHS and later our music and technology.

It featured, among others, our goodies engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel; Great Ormond Street Hospital medics and patients and our baddies: Voldemorte and the Child Catcher.

There were dancing doctors, bouncing punks, shovelling steel-workers, Bean, Brannagh and Bond.

It was at once spine-tinglingly poignant, tub-thumpingly theatrical and brilliantly bonkers and sparked a rising tide of national pride.

Sam Hopkins, 20, from Romford, was one of the dancers. He said: “The atmosphere was incredible when I first came out into the stadium and looked around to see it absolutely full, everyone was cheering – you couldn’t help but smile.

“It will be remembered as part of British history for a long time and it is something that the country came together to show the world and I was part of that.”

Kelly Read, 39, from Hornchurch, is a real-life nurse and was a dancing nurse in the show’s homage to the NHS.

Another NHS worker Denise Mortimer, 47, from Rush Green, who also played the part of a nurse, added: “It has left a personal legacy because it is a once- in-a-lifetime experience.”

“I feel tearful thinking about it. It feels quite amazing. This is a piece of history and even walking back from the stadium that night I was on cloud nine. We were over the moon and so proud. I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet.”

Experience

Cllr Michael-Deon Burton danced in the show’s final section Frankie and June say...Thanks Tim.

He said: “Rehearsals were wet, very wet and even more wet and yet not one of them was cancelled. After literally months of training and repeat rehearsals, it was uppermost in my mind that this was very much a one shot deal. Everybody’s eyes were upon you.

“When the crowd erupted, I physically felt the emotion in the arena and that is something I have never experienced before and I will relieve over and over again in my mind.”

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