Paralympic flame arrives in Cardiff for festival and relay

image captionParalympian Simon Richardson lights the flame outside Cardiff City Hall

The last Paralympic cauldron to be lit ahead of the 2012 Games has been sparked by Paralympian cyclist Simon Richardson in Cardiff.

A group of scouts kindled the flame at the summit of Snowdon last Wednesday.

About 100 people gathered at City Hall on Monday morning to watch the cauldron being lit, with Chariots of Fire playing as the clock struck 08:00 BST.

"It's just great to light the flame in my capital city of my country of Wales," said Richardson.

The paracyclist from Porthcawl won two gold and a silver at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics, and was hoping to take part in London 2012 before he was knocked off his bike while training last summer by a driver who was over the drink-drive limit.

He added: "I would have preferred to have been competing but this is the next best thing. It was such a shock to get the phone call asking me to do this."

Calum Gray, 14, and Tori McIntyre, 15, two of the scouts who climbed Snowdon to spark the flame last week, handed the lantern over for Richardson to light the torch.

They said it was amazing to be part of the experience.

image captionNurses Sister Margo Lord [L] and Miriam Jenkins - welcome the flame at Rookwood Hospital in Llandaff

"It was very cold and wet on the top of Snowdon but when the flame was lit it made it a bit warmer," said Calum.

The day will end in Cardiff Bay with a torch relay and a festival.

Cardiff is the last of four cities in the UK to hold a festival marking the arrival of the Paralympic flame. Flames from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England will unite before a relay to Wednesday's opening ceremony.

media captionAmong those carrying the Paralympic flame in Cardiff Bay is a former judo champion from Swansea

A cauldron was lit in London on Friday while Belfast held its event on Saturday and Edinburgh on Sunday.

The Cardiff flame is visiting locations in the city and disability sports demonstrations will be held during Monday.

During the event, representatives from Swansea and Conwy will light a lantern from the cauldron to take the flame to their associated Flame Celebration events.


Members of the Cardiff Celts wheelchair basketball team were also at the City Hall ceremony.

The flame was taken in a lantern to Rookwood Hospital in Llandaff, before going on to the House of Sport in Leckwith, and lastly the Hayes in the city centre, where disability sports demonstrations are taking place.

A small crowd gathered at Rookwood Hospital for the arrival of the flame. A bell was rung at the entrance and the lantern was handed over to staff at the hospital, and it then went on a tour of the wards for patients to see.

One patient, Richard Elms, 64, from Cardiff said it was an appropriate place for the flame to visit.

People will be able to take part between 12:00 and 16:00 BST.

The day culminates in the Flame Festival at Cardiff Bay from 19:00 BST where there will be a lantern procession of 200 people accompanying the torch bearers relay as it arrives in Roald Dahl Plass on its way to Stoke Mandeville - the spiritual home of the Paralympic movement.

Only Kids Aloud, who were in a video played during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, will perform, as will Only Men Aloud and Charlotte Church.

Sebastian Coe, chair of Locog said: "The national flame in Wales will help to light the way to the Paralympic Games.

"It will also give people in Wales the chance to celebrate the amazing achievements of the torchbearers who all embody the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality."

Welsh government Sports Minister Huw Lewis said: "Following on from the spectacular, lighting ceremony on top of Snowdon, it's pleasing that so many more people will have the opportunity to witness the Paralympic Torch pass through another iconic part of Wales.

From Cardiff the flame will be taken to Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, where it will be united with flames that were lit on the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

A ceremony will be held on Tuesday and a single Paralympic flame will be created for the 24-hour torch relay that ends at the Paralympic Stadium on Wednesday.

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