Public offered role at historic Heritage Flame lighting event

Residents are being offered a unique chance to grab a role at an historic event in Bucks – by volunteering to be part of the dance performance at the Paralympic Heritage Flame ceremony in September.

Organisers are appealing to the public to come forward to participate in the ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, which will be televised by Channel 4.

Around 100 performers will be required to take part in the Stoke Mandeville ceremony, but no experience is necessary because they will be taught by experts during rehearsals.

The flame lighting ceremony is part of the lead-up to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Stoke Mandeville, as the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, is the only venue outside the host nation of Brazil to play a role in creating the Paralympic Flame. The Heritage Flame will combine with others travelling to Rio from across Brazil to ignite the flame which marks the start of the Paralympic Games. This tradition began two years ago before the Sochi Games.

Martin McElhatton, chief executive of WheelPower and member of the Bucks Legacy Board, said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of an incredible event, which will be broadcast live on Channel 4. It will also be seen around the world when a recording is shown as part of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games opening ceremony. It’s a chance to perform with some of the best disabled and non-disabled dancers working in the performing arts industry.

“Whether you’re a born performer, enjoy the occasional disco, or have never even tapped your foot to a beat, you’re more than welcome to join in – and there are no embarrassing auditions!”

The event will be directed by Bradley Hemmings, who was co-director of the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the inaugural Paralympic Heritage Flame Ceremony at Stoke Mandeville in 2014. Speaking about this volunteering opportunity, he said:

“Back in 2012, volunteer performers were at the heart of what was an incredibly emotional night. I’m so pleased that four years on (and with thanks to support from the Arts Council) it will be possible for disabled and non-disabled volunteers to be part of a major broadcast Ceremony, screened in Rio as part of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony.”

Stopgap Dance Company will be creating the choreography. They are passionate about bringing disabled and non-disabled people together through dance and are looking to assemble a diverse cast. Disabled participants are strongly encouraged to enquire as well as existing drama, dance or sport groups.

To volunteer, go to to register by 8 July. Performers should be over 16 years of age and will need to be available for an orientation session on Sunday 17 July, and for rehearsals in a Buckinghamshire location on Sunday 14 and 28 August. There will also be an on-site rehearsal at Stoke Mandeville Stadium 6pm on Thursday 1 September. The actual performance is between 7.30pm and 8.30 pm on Friday 2 September.