On the evening of Friday 27th July I was sitting in a state of great excitement at Eton Manor near Stratford , the holding area for most of the volunteers who were performing in the Opening ceremony of the 30th Olympic Games. Yes, I was one of the chosen few about to perform in front of billions around the world from the brand spanking new Olympic venue in my home town. After approximately 200 hours of rehearsing from mid-April our time was hours away. By taking part in the biggest show on earth my dream was about to come true, my 15 minutes of fame was imminent. As yet I didn’t know whether the show would be a success or a flop, but I believed in Danny Boyle and I believed in what we were doing.
I was to be one of the nurses in the segment embracing the NHS. My job (along with my bed partner Astrid) was to push my NHS bed with my little girl (Aaisha, aged 9) onto the field of play and then switch on the light. Done collectively our lights would spell GOSH (Great Ormond Street Hospital) and NHS. My own light would light up the top of the O in GOSH and H in NHS. We were all confident it would all go well, not for nothing had we spent the preceding months working through every detail of the performance, and the two full dress rehearsals had gone like clockwork.
I felt as proud as a peacock in my nurse’s uniform, false eyelashes bright red lipstick and the lot. I was ready to put all I learned into the performance of my life for the British public and the billions of people watching worldwide. And then before I knew it we were on, wheeling on the beds and then straight into the ‘ssshhh dance’, followed by the ‘nurses return’ and the ‘nurses knees up’ to finish.
Everything went without a hitch, I didn’t fall over or poke my girl in the eye. I’m left with an experience that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. Danny Boyle gave me a chance to be part of something unique, an experience money can’t buy, an opportunity to be a part of defining being ‘British’. The show itself was spectacular and it was a hit. Although you didn’t catch me on the BBC stream I do have a few photos to prove I was there. Over a week on I’m still on a ‘high’ but coming down slowly. I’m still getting well wishes from family and friends worldwide who enjoyed the show and were glued to the television to get a glance of me.
It was all very hectic and I’m still recovering, but I’d do it all again at the drop of a hat. I’ve made some lifetime friends and I’ve got the chance to perform again at the Paralympic Opening Ceremony on the 29th August, so hopefully you’ll catch me then. But it will be something completely different though once again I’m sworn to secrecy. You don’t mess with Danny!!!
Like so many athletes and volunteers these Olympics have provided a life affirming moment for me. So I’d like to offer a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone at RS Consulting for being so accommodating, and to our joint MD, Chris Stead, who forwarded me the application form for the audition all those months ago.