A TORCHBEARER and a performer at the opening ceremony have been reflecting on being part of the Paralympic Games.

Stevenage resident Arthur Bate helped carry the flame through Newham in East London last Wednesday as part of the Paralympic Torch Relay.

The 53-year-old, who was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was nominated through the Sainsbury’s Torchbearer Nomination Scheme by Stevenage-based advocacy charity POhWER.

“It was a once-in-a-life-time experience, so many people were lining the route waving and cheering,” said Mr Bate, who helped set up the charity in 1996 and remains a trustee.

“I was thinking about what I was there for, all the disabled people who can get help through POhWER and advocacy in general, and that I helped to start that all those years ago.”

MP for Stevenage Stephen McPartland added: “I have worked with Arthur and the team at POhWER. I have seen first-hand the fantastic work they do helping people and making a real difference. Being chosen to be a torchbearer for the Paralympics is well-deserved recognition for Arthur.”

Following the completion of the torch relay, the Paralympic opening ceremony kicked off in the Olympic Stadium at 8.30pm, with Letchworth GC resident Cheryl Eely taking centre stage just before midnight while Ian Dury’s protest anthem Spasticus Autisticus was played and later when Beverley Knight performed the finale.

The 23-year-old, who is head of dance at a school in Northamptonshire, said: “I decided to apply to be a ceremonies performer as I love performing and thought it would be a brilliant opportunity to involved in such an amazing event.”

“It was a brilliant atmosphere and performing in front of 80,000 people was a bit crazy.”