On Saturday 1 March the eyes of the world were on Stoke Mandeville, as a spectacular ceremony (created and produced by GDIF) lit the first-ever Paralympic Heritage Flame.
Broadcast live on Channel 4, the Ceremony saw the Paralympic Heritage Flame lit by gold medal winning wheelchair racing athlete Hannah Cockcroft from the centre of an extraordinarily beautiful 6m diameter, Armillary Sphere (a model of stars and planets in the sky). Created by internationally acclaimed theatre designer Jon Bausor the illumination of the flame was accompanied by specially commissioned music by Dan Jones and pyrotechnics from Alchemy.
As part of the Ceremony two new films were shown:
Mike Christie’s “I am the Flame” telling the inspiring story of Stoke Mandeville, whilst Rachel Gadsden and Abigail Norris looked to Greek myth in an animation recounting the legend of the god Hephaestus.
GDIF is enormously grateful to Sir Ian McKellen who took time out from a busy schedule to narrate both of these films.
A day later on Saturday 2 March, GDIF created a second event “Spirit in Motion” at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury, telling the story of Stoke Mandeville and bringing together artists and Paralympians in a celebration of sport and the arts. Hosted by actor Ben Owen-Jones, audiences were treated to a unique aerial performance by circus artists from the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony, whilst Rachel Gadsden brought the Paralympic motto of “spirit in motion” to life on canvas. There were also performances from Denise Leigh and Andrea Begley whilst guest speakers included Chris Holmes, Jenny Sealey, Naomi Riches and Sally Haynes.