Sir Philip Craven declares the Paralympic Games have been "greatest ever"
10:36pm Sunday 9th September 2012 in News
STUNNING effects and raw courage signalled the end of the Paralympic Games in London.
International Paralympic Committee President, Boltonian Sir Philip Craven, declared the Games closed.
He declared it “the greatest Paralympics ever”.
Sir Philip, in a speech to the crowds at the Olympic Stadium, added: “These have been quite simply amazing Paralympic Games. These were not just London's Games, they are for the entire United Kingdom. This country has enjoyed a real feel good factor like never before.
“The biggest cheer for London 2012 should be reserved as we say thank you to the thousands of Gamesmakers.
“Let us now thank another group of people who went beyond the call of duty – the British Armed Forces and emergency services.
“These Paralympic Games will live on for an eternity.”
The closing ceremony - billed as the Festival of the Flame - lived up to its name as flame throwers, blazing torches and a gigantic heart of fire lit up the Olympic Stadium.
Minutes earlier, the audience had been moved by the grit and determination of legless war hero Captain Luke Sinnott - who hauled himself up a flagpole to proudly fly the Union Flag.
The courageous 32-year-old lost his limbs in 2010 after volunteering to search an area "saturated" with improvised explosive devices to protect his comrades.
Comrades from the charity played a key role in the opening minutes of the ceremony to support Capt Sinnott. The team joined forces to manoeuvre a heavy-wheeled machine to raise the flagpole.
Fifty four drummers created an avenue through which the Earl of Wessex, representing the Queen, and International Paralympic Committee chairman Sir Philip Craven entered the stadium.
They arrived in a custom-built car that began life as a military vehicle used in Afghanistan and was driven by Captain Tony Harris, who lost his left leg below the knee when he was caught in a blast in Sangin, Afghanistan in 2009.
Blind autistic singer Lissa Hermans, who also performed at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this year, sang the National Anthem.
The spectacular and moving ceremony was another display of creativity and British eccentricity, and featured global megastars Coldplay.
Coldplay frontman Chris Martin said: "Being asked to play at the closing celebrations for the Paralympic athletes in London is such a great honour for us. It was one of the biggest nights of our lives and we were excited to try to create a performance for the last night of the games that closed London 2012 in style."