In 1948, I was an enthusiastic member of the Wembley Philharmonic Society and had performed large pieces on a number of occasions. About six weeks before the Opening Ceremony, we received a letter from the Olympic Games Organising Committee inviting us to sing the Olympic anthem at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, alongside the BBC Royal Choral Society and Harrow Choral Society.
We had to buy our own copies of the words and also provide our own concert outfits – smart black and white. We rehearsed independently then came together on the day of the ceremony.
The crowd were predominantly British and mainly from London, with very few international spectators. Perhaps that’s not so surprising, so soon after the war?
Our choir had our own seats in the Olympic Stadium (they were using Wembley) and performed from those seats, accompanied by a Guards Band, as I recall. There was no amplification, just the power of our voices – I think there were around 500 singers in all. But there was no other entertainment apart from us and the band.
I remember that there were a number of formal speeches – I can't recall them exactly, but I believe the King was involved! The athlete oath was also a memorable and very solemn moment, as was the athlete parade. All teams were welcomed with great respect by the crowd.
Finally, I remember doves being released... but only because I still have a vivid picture in my mind of all the guards simultaneously leaning forward to protect their bearskins from the dove poo!
I am still a fan of the Olympic Movement and very much hope to hang on to see the Games come to London again in 2012!