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Celebratory flames from across Great Britain & Northern Ireland will combine at Stoke Mandeville Stadium as part of Paralympic Flame Festival before beginning a 24 hour Paralympic Flame journey to the Stratford and the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Building on the traditional Torch Relay format, the London 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay programme will begin on Friday 24 August 2012 with the first flame lighting event to be held in London. Over the Bank Holiday, Greater Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff will each host a flame lighting moment in the morning followed by a Paralympic Flame Festival later in the day.
Each of the four flames will be lit by the energy of physical human endeavour, with each city creating its unique method of lighting the flame.
The four flames will be brought together to create the Paralympic Flame at a special ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, birthplace of the Paralympic Movement, on Tuesday 28 August 2012. Later that evening, there will be a 24 hour Torch Relay to journey the Paralympic Flame to London for the opening of the Paralympic Games.
580 Torchbearers working as teams of five will then carry the Flame from Stoke Mandeville towards the Stadium to light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Details about how Torchbearers will be selected are to be announced at a later date.
Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG said: "We are thrilled that Stoke Mandeville Stadium will be hosting the special Paralympic Torch ceremony that will create the Paralympic Flame. Day after day our Paralympians show the energy of human endeavour both on and off the sporting field of play. By lighting the flame which heralds the start of their competition through the energy of human endeavour, the London 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay is a tribute to their inspirational stories of courage and determination and a celebration of teamwork right across the UK."
Martin McElhatton, Chief Executive of WheelPower, owners of Stoke Mandeville Stadium, said “We are delighted to be welcoming home the Paralympic Movement for the Paralympic Torch Relay. The London 2012 Games provide us with the wonderful opportunity to celebrate Britain’s proud heritage as the birthplace of Paralympic Sport and use the power of the Games and the uniting of the Flame as a symbol to inspire disabled people throughout the world to transform their lives through sport.”
Councillor Derrick Isham, Chairman of Aylesbury Vale District Council and host District to the Stoke Mandeville celebration said “We are delighted that Stoke Mandeville has been selected to host this very exciting and unique event and look forward to working with LOCOG, WheelPower and all local partners in organising a magnificent celebratory event which will be seen throughout the world to mark this occasion.”
Mike Colston, Chairman of Buckinghamshire County Council, said: "We’re honoured to be recognised as the birthplace of the Paralympic movement. We’re looking forward to an exciting year, welcoming home the Paralympic Games, and hosting the Olympic and Paralympic competitions at Eton Dorney. What a great opportunity for all our communities to come together to celebrate!"
Oona Muirhead CBE, the London 2012 Nations and Regions Member for the South East, Chair of the South East Partnership and Chief Executive of SEEDA commented; “It is incredibly exciting that the Paralympic Torch will recognise so clearly the very important role Stoke Mandeville has played in the creation of the Paralympic Games. The South East Partnership, through programmes such as Accentuate, is working to raise the profile of Stoke Mandeville and being able to promote and acknowledge Stoke Mandeville and all of our work on a global scale is fantastic. Today is the beginning of the next stage of the Stoke Mandeville story and over this coming Olympic year we will celebrate the heritage and birth of the Paralympic Games in the South East of England’.