Crowds flock to Opening Ceremony ExtravaganzaBy Laura Herbert
August 02, 2012
As the world looked on London for the Olympics opening ceremony thousands people across the borough came together to watch the incredible spectacle unfold.
The ceremony, which wowed the world, and the London 2012 Games are set to inspire a new generation of athletes with young and old in Wokingham already picking up the gauntlet.
Loddon Valley Leisure Centre hosted its Opening Ceremony Extravaganza showing the event live on big screens as well as offering a number of activities.
Around 600 people visited the centre in Rushey Way, Lower Earley, for the family event on Friday with bouncy castles, a climbing wall and children’s gym.
Visitors could also take part in a Zumba fitness class, Bollywood dancing and a coaching session from Reading Rockets basketball team.
Tony Penge, contract manager at the leisure centre, said: “It went really well. We sold about 450 tickets before the day and the weather was kind so we had a few more on the day.
“The thing that definitely came out of it was that a lot of the people hadn’t come into the centre before, or not for many years.”
Some of the borough’s athletes have already begun their quest for medals at the Olympic venues and the Olympics appear to have inspired people to get active as the centre recorded its best June and July in at least four years.
Mr Penge said: “We have noticed it particularly in swimming pool usage.
“We were expecting a fairly quiet June with Wimbledon and football but June and July so far have been good.”
In Wokingham Without, families welcomed the start of the Games with a community festival on Friday opened by The Right Reverend Andrew Proud, Bishop of Reading.
Bishop Andrew said: “I am looking forward to the Olympics hugely, it’s about hope, about dreams, about being the best you can.”
The festival was organised by St Sebastian’s Church.
The Rev Ian Seymour, curate at St Sebastian’s Church, said: “It was the largest thing we have done as a church.
“We are delighted that it was such a memorable event for the whole family and a fantastic opportunity for us as a church to organise something to demonstrate God’s love to our community.”
Members of the church, in Nine Mile Ride, organised a range of activities including a Christian magic show, circus events, races and games.
Torchbearer Kieran Wassell, who ran with the Olympic Torch through Theale, near Reading, on Wednesday, July 11, allowed visitors to have their picture taken with the Torch.
Mr Wassell, who has been running for the last six years raising money for the Dyspraxia Foundation, also lit the Fire Show during the celebrations.
The Rev Andrew Marsden said: “The festival is free because Jesus gave his life for us freely, and we want show some of that love to the community.”