Through the night the Paralympic Torch has been carried in a relay, which started at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire yesterday. It passed through Aylesebury last night and will end its journey at the Games' opening ceremony in London this evening.
On the eve of the Opening Ceremony for the Paralympic Games, more than 3, 000 people attended a special ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the spiritual home of the Paralympics.
Four Flames - which were lit in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales - came together to create the Paralympic Flame, heralding the start of the 24-hour Torch Relay.
The Paralympic Flame will be carried a total of 92 miles through 24 communities by 116 teams of five people to lead the UK into the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Games as the cauldron is lit tonight at the Opening Ceremony.
Ahead of yesterday’s event, each of the national Flames spent time in its respective capital city – London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff - visiting hospitals, local youth groups, arts and sports centres before being taken to Stoke Mandeville.
Evening Flame Festivals attended by thousands of people were held in each city and 36 communities from across the UK also took the opportunity to collect their Flame in a miner’s lantern and take it to associated Flame Celebration’s over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
At the event during over 150 local residents took part in a lantern procession to form a guard of honour for the eight Torchbearers, and the daughter of Dr Ludwig Guttman - the founding father of the Stoke Mandeville Games - paid tribute to the role the Stoke Mandeville Games had in defining the modern Paralympic Movement.
The Torchbearers helping to create the Paralympic Flame at the ceremony in Stoke Mandeville Stadium were:
Katie Piper and Paralympian Tony Griffin carried the English Flame into the stadium. Katie was nominated for her work setting up the Katie Piper Foundation and raising awareness of burns survivors after a suffering major injuries having been attacked with sulphuric acid by her ex-boyfriend. Tony is being recognised for his medal successes in throwing disciplines. In his 10-year career he won a total of 38 medals.
Talented young boxer Jon Jo Look and Noel McShane carried the Scotland Flame into the stadium. Jon Jo is being recognised for for learning to walk again using a prosthetic leg, for turning his talent to coaching others and his success as a Boxing Coach in Dorchester. Noel is being honoured for his work to establish the National Wheelchair Tennis Association of Great Britain and the British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships.
Darren Ferguson and Joseph Morris carried the Northern Ireland Flame into the stadium. Darren is a Special Constable working for Dorset Police who in 2010 talked a distressed man who wanted to take his own life down from a bridge and Joseph showed great bravery by saving a young girl from drowning in a river.
Julie Gilbert and Marsha Wiseman carried the Wales Flame into the stadium. They are part of a team who are champion disabled employees within BT.
Sir Philip Craven, International Paralympic Committee, President, said: ‘It is fitting that the four national flames are brought together to create the Paralympic Flame at Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement.The Torch Relay will further raise awareness levels of the Paralympic Games to new levels, whilst also recognizing and celebrating the roots and history of the Paralympic Movement.’
Buckinghamshire County Council Chief Executive, Chris Williams, said: ‘This is a proud moment for Buckinghamshire as a host county. We’re delighted so many will have the opportunity to honour our Paralympians. It’s a fitting tribute to Sir Ludwig Guttmann’s pioneering work, and to the courage and determination of generations of sports men and women.’
Last night, a team of Torchbearers carried the Paralympic Flame onto the stage at the Aylesbury Flame Celebration in the Market Square to mark their contribution to the development of Paralympic sport.