An early glimpse of what was to follow came in 'Welcoming the World' – a project funded by Creative Partnerships and led by our Education team. 20 or more schools around the Olympic Park worked with musicians, photographers and film-makers to help hundreds of children to capture their own images of their life, their identity and their invitation to world for 2012. The exuberance, energy and serrated edged sincerity of what emerged was tangible evidence of the 'gold dust' we often talk about from the London 2012 project. The celebratory finale event was one of the noisiest I've ever been too, but I remember wishing we could bottle the atmosphere and pipe it around every school in the UK. Thankfully a great deal of it seemed to seep out and re-emerge later in the summer.
So much has been written about our great Beijing adventure. Everything must start from the inspirational performance of the Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes. There are other aspects that continue live in the memory:
- The stunning spectacle of the Chinese ceremonies - especially the humanity and emotional endevour of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony.
- The huge cheers around the Bird's Nest that accompanied the arrival of London's famous red double decker - amplified only by the roar that greeted David Beckham (and what a great ambassador for London 2012 he's turned out to be).
- The genuine welcome afforded by ordinary Chinese whose delight at hosting the Games was there for all to see.
But the inspiration from Beijing also steered us towards the things that will mark out London's Games as unique and special. We had hints of this back in London and the rest of the UK throughout Handover, and beyond.
More than forty thousand people gathered outside Buckingham Palace to celebrate the moment of Handover. But even this was dwarfed by the hundreds of thousands who assembled at myriad events around London and the rest of the country. They gathered in their hundreds and their thousands - some around the thirty or so 'Live Sites' and most celebrating their own community's Handover Flags. There was song, theatre, dance, gastronomy, spectacle and sporting participation. The UK gathered with pride to celebrate the achievements of GB athletes and the arrival of the Olympic and Paralympic movements in London. It was a shared celebration - active, vivid and exuberant.
And there was more to come. For the Paralympic Games Handover, more than five thousand schools engaged their pupils in events, study and celebrations about Paralympism. Our Education team seized the moment to launch one of the most ambitious online education programmes that the games has seen.
Days later the four year journey of the Cultural Olympiad began with a clear statement of intent. Instead of a grand launch event for a black tie group of VIPs in a major London venue, the 'Open Weekend' saw three quarters of a million people take up the invitation to over six hundred different events. Buildings were opened especially. Great talent opened up to groups of young people and large audiences opened their minds to new work. Over half the organisations taking part reported new audiences and participants as a result. Seb Coe and a distinguished group of athletes led the way towards this marriage of sport and art by running through Tate Britain's galleries as part of the triumphant Martin Creed work, number 850.
With just a couple of months behind us even Andrew Marr might struggle to put the events of 2008 into proper historical context. However I hope he and the other historians will eventually conclude that in 2008, London 2012 put down a clear and compelling marker - a message that London will strive like no city before to share out the inspirational gold dust of the Games so that millions of ordinary people can achieve the extraordinary in so many aspects of their lives.
If that is my hope, I can be certain that the events of 2008 only happened because of the support of our many friends, colleagues and stakeholders and the tireless efforts of the small Culture, Ceremonies and Education team here in LOCOG. A very special thanks to them, and happy holidays to all.