LONDON 2012: Nurses and patients from GOSH and UCLH play a starring role in Danny Boyle's spectacular Olympic opening ceremony

Thursday, 2nd August 2012


More than 50 members of UCLH took part in the opening ceremony

Left: Pushpsen Joshi, and Lucy Beasley, left, and Ellen Parnavelas

Mark Matthews, a patient at Great Ormond Street Hospital, took part in the ceremony

Published: 2 August, 2012

ROLLERSKATERS, doctors, health workers, dental consultants and young patients from in and around Camden were among the stars of the show during the Olympics’ opening ceremony.

Danny Boyle put the NHS – and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital (GOSH) in Bloomsbury – at the heart of his £27m production.

Nine patients, two ward nurses and a children’s play specialist from GOSH took part in the ceremony, along with 50 members of the University College London Hospital (UCLH).

Surgeons, anaesthetists and managers from UCLH donned victory roll hair-dos and nurses uniforms to take part in the scene dedicated to the NHS. Several also took part in scenes depicting the Industrial Revolution.

They were joined by a health worker from St Pancras Hospital as well as eight rollerskaters from The London Rollergirls (LRG), some of whom trained at Maitland Park Gym (MPG), a comm­unity centre in Chalk Farm, who performed their version of the dance on rollerskates.

Betsy Lau-Robinson, the UCLH Trust’s lead for safeguarding adults and a senior nurse, said: “When we first started to audition, most of us had two left feet but by the end of it my children said that they had no idea I could dance like that.
“They thought a lot of us were professionals but we are nurses and doctors whose everyday activity is to look after patients and we are proud of that.”

NHS research auditor Pushpsen Joshi, who lives in Gospel Oak, said the near-200 hours worth of rehearsing was well worth the effort. He said: “I like dancing, but I have to admit I never felt my body was designed to dance.  But Danny Boyle was so charming, he spoke to all of us, and put us at ease.”

He said watching the reaction after the ceremony had moved him and his NHS colleagues.
“We were so proud to represent the NHS. We have seen colleagues have to leave their jobs because of cuts, but this showed how much we love being public servants, and how much our daily efforts are appreciated by everyone else.”

Ellen Parnavelas, 28, a publishing editor from London and member of the LRG, told the New Journal: “Backstage was organised chaos. From cyclists, rollerskating nurses, breakdancers, aerialists and small children everywhere, it was a giant circus.”
Ellen, who skates under the name “Ellectric ’Avin You”, added: “We were all cheering each other on, and when we came off stage everyone let out this huge cheer for us.
“I know I will never in my life be part of something that huge and insane again.”

Also taking part in the ceremony was Mark Matthews, eight, from Brondesbury, in Kilburn, a patient at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Mark, who had a kidney transplant last year, was part of a group of eight patients and three staff from the Bloomsbury hospital standing on “Glastonbury Tor”.

Chief Executive of GOSH Jane Collins said: “The children, their parents and staff who took part were sworn to secrecy and it’s great that we’re now able to share our excitement.”

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