London 2012 opening and closing ceremony roles for Welwyn Garden City man

THE 2012 Paralympic Games opening ceremony takes place in London tonight (Wednesday) and a Welwyn Garden City man knows exactly what to expect in the stadium after appearing at the Olympics.

STEPPING out to 80,000 screaming people at both the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies was an unforgettable experience for a Welwyn Garden City man who was at the heartbeat of both events – quite literally.

Matt Squires was one of the many drummers who helped to keep the beat going throughout the massive events at London 2012.

He signed up after seeing an advert when booking tickets for the Olympics and passed an audition in January.

Rehearsals started in May and on July 27 his, and all the drumming team’s hard work, paid off when they came out to “incredible scenes” and made part of a night that the one billion people viewing worldwide will never forget.

“It’s surreal thinking I was part of that,” said the 24-year-old, who got to meet Russell Brand and Madness singer Suggs at the closing ceremony.

“The whole experience was madness.

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“On the actual night of the opening ceremony itself I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I was going to be, as we had already performed our routine twice, once in front of 45,000 people, including the athletes, and then another time in front of 80,000 who were the Games Makers and the friends and families of the performers.

“But when we came out to that reception on the main night, it was just crazy.

“It’s one of those things that you just know will be a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

As well as drumming, the former Monk’s Walk School student was also marshalling on both nights and was also part of the athletes’ parade, which he said was “fantastic”.

“Looking back now, both nights were brilliant, there’s too many parts to say which was my highlight of both.

“I suppose the audience reaction to the drumming will stay with me though, and I have made a lot of friends through it as well.

“We were out partying after both ceremonies until the early hours, so we’ve had a blast.”