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Tuesday, 04 October 2011
Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, convinced a large North-West audience at Bolton School that the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will bring a much needed lift to the whole country. His message was echoed by Lord Sebastian Coe who felt we are fast approaching a defining moment for sport and this country. In Beijing Great Britain had been fourth in the Olympic medal table and second in the Paralympic table but Lord Coe said that he hoped next summer would provide some "big British moments" for everyone to enjoy as well as a haul of medals.
The pair were on stage at an evening co-hosted by Bolton School and Bolton Council, which was attended by hundreds of people from across the region. Sir Philip had returned to his old school to deliver the annual Tillotson Lecture and he had brought his close friend Lord Coe with him. Both were keen to spread the message about the once in a lifetime opportunity that the Games represent for the UK. The two were joined on stage by two 2012 hopefuls, Sophie Hancock, a local paralympian and Daniel Sliwinski, an Old Boy of the School and Commonwealth Games swimming bronze medallist.
Sir Philip and Lord Coe each gave a 15 minute presentation, in which they spoke about how 2012 represents a genuine opportunity for the whole of the country, not just London. Lord Coe commended counties across the UK for how they were imaginatively making capital from the Games. LOCOG currently employs 2,000 people and by the summer of next year there will be 6,000 employees, with 70,000 volunteers across the country. The Games have already seen 15,000 new homes built in one of the country's most deprived areas. Both speakers reflected on their own childhoods and how school sport is critically important in producing future athletes. Both were enthused by how many schools were getting involved in the Get Set project, the official London 2012 education programme.
Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOGOG, said: "I am delighted to have had the honour of participating in this year's Tillotson Lecture at Bolton School and to have had the opportunity to talk with so many young people about the ways the North-West region is benefiting from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. With many involvement opportunities still open to the region's young people in particular, it is with great pleasure that I award Bolton School the Get Set Network plaque for their involvement in the London 2012 Education Programme."
Prior to going on stage, Sir Philip said: "It's brilliant to be back at my old school, where I developed in so many ways as a young man. I am dead excited about spreading the good news message that the Olympic and Paralympic Games will bring. The whole country is going to get a lift and we are no longer talking years but days away."
Keith Davies, Director of Development and Regeneration at Bolton Council told the audience how over thirty local companies had already directly benefited from the games, including Watson Steel Structures who had supplied steel for the Olympic Stadium and it was their work which had inspired the official Olympic and Paralympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville.
Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Cliff Morris, added: "This was a unique opportunity for people speak to two key people behind the Olympics and Paralympics. The Games will leave a lasting legacy for both Bolton businesses and local people. A number of firms have already benefited from opportunities because of the 2012 games. The Olympic Flame is also coming to Bolton as part of its journey around the UK, which will see the torch taking a route through the borough. We will then host an evening celebration giving thousands of people the opportunity to come together and share in the Olympic spirit. We also have sports and leisure facilities in Bolton One opening in the Spring. All in all Olympic year is going to be an important year for Bolton."
Photographs of the Tillotson Lecture evening.
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