A Lewisham choir sang to welcome the Paralympic torch to the opening ceremony on Wednesday after it passed through Deptford, Tower Hamlets and Hackney.
Carried on a ninety-two-mile journey, the flame was witnessed by thousands of revellers. In the end the procession was over two hours late, a back-up torch was taken directly to the Olympic Park to light the cauldron, on time, at midnight.
Lewisham Choral Society went through intense rehearsals for the Paralympics, in which they sang a specially composed piece – ‘Principia’ – and the national anthem.
Local choir member Christiane Link said: “If anything, the secrecy surrounding the Paralympics opening ceremony has been even greater than the “save the surprise” campaign for the Olympics performance.”
“We were not allowed to watch any of the other performers rehearsing, so I didn’t have a clear idea beforehand of what it would be like.”
Link, who is a wheelchair user, said: “People are much more relaxed about disability here. It’s not a big issue if you’re a wheelchair user. I don’t get stared at as much as in Germany, for example.”
After some time passing through Tower Hamlets roadside fans were able to enjoy an iconic moment, as William Noble, Jan Wilson and Francesca Porcellato carried the flame over Tower Bridge.
When the torch relay reached Lewisham and passed through the seventh borough of the day there were cheers. A drumming band beat out a rhythm as local four-time Paralympian, Jenny Orpwood and four others were escorted through Deptford.
By the time the relay reached Hackney the early evening twilight was descending on the borough. However, while traffic built up at Mare Street and torchbearers posed for photographs at London Fields Lido, fans were still happy to trot alongside the procession.
Hackney residents Sharon Jones-Barnes, Aneurin Wood, Tim Rushby-Smith, Amir Laksari, and Kayum Choudhury joined the original team of five torchbearers to escort the flame through Hackney.
From London Fields West the torch left Hackney and headed towards Waltham Forest and the opening ceremony at Stratford.
An average of 7.9 million television viewers witnessed the opening ceremony.