Norfolk performers take centre stage at Olympic opening ceremony

As the world's eyes turned their attention on London last night for the spectacular opening of the Olympic Games, performers from Norfolk and north Suffolk were given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of the momentous occasion.

Dancers, drummers, prop-makers and sportspeople from the region last night took centre stage as millions of people worldwide tuned in to watch the London 2012 Olympic Games get under way.

Entitled Isles of Wonder, Danny Boyle's long-anticipated show saw true Britishness come alive with scenes depicting Britain's green and pleasant countryside, the industrial revolution and the nation's much-loved humour, all culminated with pyrotechnics and fireworks as the Olympic rings were lifted.

The show had been kept a tight-lipped secret up until last night and there were surprises up until the last minute, even for those taking part.

The 8,000-strong show saw people from up and down the country perform, including dozens from Norfolk and north Suffolk.

Among those taking part were the former leader of Norfolk County Council, Daniel Cox.

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The father-of-one was part of the 15-minute industrial revolution scene in last night's show. He first auditioned for a role back in December last year where he had to dance and act. He was then invited to a call back in January before he was selected. Rehearsals then started in April.

Ahead of last night's spectacular, Mr Cox had been part of more than 200 hours of rehearsals, including two dress rehearsals in front of up to 70,000 people earlier this week.

The 41-year-old, who lives in Wymondham with his wife Katie and their eight-week-old daughter Amelie, said: 'It was an amazing experience to have 8,000 people on stage and the amount of organisation that went into the delivery of it.

'It was unforgettable to be on stage and be part of the opening ceremony. I wanted to be part of the Olympic experience and to make a contribution to make it happen but I never thought I would have the opportunity to be part of something so spectacular. It was absolutely unforgettable.'

Other people from Norfolk who were involved in the show included University of East Anglia biomedicine student Beverley Brierley, first year development student Evie Forster and Haydn Wiseman, who is studying for a postgraduate degree in mathematics.

North Walsham-born student Alicia Mortonis was one of the dancers while Gina Atherton, 23, from Hainford, and Andrew Verney, 51, from Blofield, were both drummers.

Roz Creusson, 23, from Norwich but who is studying scenic art at the Rose Bruford College in London, was one of the prop makers and performed in the ceremony last night.

She had helped make 12,000 props for last night's show, the closing ceremony and the Paralympic Games opening and closing ceremonies.

The former Wymondham High School and City College Norwich pupil said: 'It's been absolutely fantastic and a brilliant opportunity. We got to see Danny Boyle personally and the show was just fantastic. It's been really good and a once in a lifetime opportunity.'

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