CHEERS and shouts erupted at Weymouth Pavilion as the London 2012 Paralympic Games opened in a dramatic and moving ceremony.
A giant screen in the Ocean Room showed the opening ceremony live from the Olympic Stadium in London last night that had starring roles for the Queen and Professor Stephen Hawking.
The ceremony heralds the start of 11 days of elite sporting action featuring athletes from across the world and before sell-out crowds who have made this the most successful Paralympic Games in history.
Six days of free-to-watch Paralympic sailing begins in Portland Harbour on Saturday.
The audience in the Ocean Room shouted ‘5,4,3,2,1!’ as the opening ceremony began with a speech from Prof Hawking.
Weymouth residents Judy and David Parson watched the free celebration with friends.
Judy said: “The Olympics were so good we wanted to be a part of the Paralympics.”
David said: “Everything with the Paralympics has been so low key but it’s come to life in the last ten days and I can’t wait to see what happens.”
Susan Genge from Nothe can’t wait for the Paralympic sailing.
She said: “I think it will have a really positive impact in the future with people coming down to the area.”
The crowds at the Pavilion stood and sang the National Anthem and cheered the Queen.
Vicky and David Piggott-Genge from Poole said they had been impressed with the media build-up to the Games.
Vicky said: “I think for me it’s just the sense of achievement. The athletes have had to achieve double what the Olympians had to achieve to get where they are. They have had to go above and beyond, it’s amazing.”
Bulgarian Margarita Filipova said she thought the Paralympics were fantastic.
She said: “I think it's amazing.”
SKUD -18 sailor John McRoberts from Canada joined family at the Pavilion.
He said that the athletes’ village was very good and everyone was being treated well.
He added that the Games would challenge people’s perceptions of disability.
He said: “It’s fantastic what Great Britain has done here and I hope it increases in coming years.”
Lots to do during the Paralympics
THE Paralympic sailing events will run from Saturday to September 6 and people will be able to watch the action inside the ICCI 360 dome or from one of the vantage points.
Good places to watch the Portland Harbour action include Nothe Gardens, Sandsfoot Beach and gardens, Hamm Beach, parts of the Rodwell Trail and the viewing point on Portland close to the Heights Hotel.
The free beach sports arena will be back from Saturday to Friday, September 7, offering activities including rowing, wheelchair tennis, and fencing.
The Ramblers Association will lead daily guided walks from Saturday to Tuesday, at 9.30am at Weymouth train station.
And the Maritime Mix London 2012 Cultural Olympiad by the Sea will be continuing, with entertainment including the b-side Multimedia Arts Festival, until Sunday, September 9.
For more information about any of the cultural events, visit www.dorsetforyou.com/sailing2012