Search

Norfolk man takes part in Olympics ceremony after motor neurone disease diagnosis

06:30 01 August 2012

David O

David O'Neale from Bridgham who took part in the Olympic Opening Ceremony on Friday night in the Industrial scene called Pandemonium holds his certificate from Danny Boyle

Archant

It began as a way of getting inside the Olympic stadium after David O’Neale was unable to get a ticket for the London 2012 games.

But the opening ceremony of the Olympics took on extra meaning for the musician and history writer after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease shortly after securing a volunteer role in Danny Boyle’s spectacular show.

Mr O’Neale, who lives in Bridgham, near Thetford, spoke of his pride at taking part in the opening ceremony on Friday after months of secret rehearsals.

The 57-year-old, who gave up his role as conductor of the Bridgham and Harling Band earlier this year because of his condition, played a smelter in the industrial revolution part of the ceremony where the Olympic rings were cast.

Mr O’Neale, who works for Norfolk County Council’s music services, said he was more determined to take part in the opening show after being diagnosed with the neurological disease in March, which has already affected his speech and movement.

He added that he also wanted to represent his family at the London Games because in 1908 his grandfather’s cousin, Dorothea Lambert Chambers (nee Douglass) won the Olympic gold medal for tennis.

“Originally I decided to get involved in the opening ceremony because I could not get a ticket to the Olympic stadium and in a funny sort of way I wanted to represent the family and I had hoped to get tickets for the tennis. I can still walk, with a limp, and I can still drive and there will come a point where I will not be able to and this is the time to do anything I can,” he said.

Mr O’Neale, who was on stage for about 15 minutes, said he had been sworn to secrecy over his participation in the show. He was allowed to keep his costume and was given a programme and a certificate signed by Danny Boyle for his involvement.

“From my point of view it was a life-affirming opportunity. I am used to performing and we had practised it so often, we were not nervous and we did what we always did and I did not know that Kenneth Branagh was walking amongst us. The whole experience has been totally inclusive and it was wonderful that I was able to take part.”

“The camaraderie was so great and no one moaned and everyone just enjoyed being part of the greatest show on earth,” he added.

Mr O’Neale also had the opportunity to speak to the Oscar winning director of the show during rehearsals and gave him a copy of Village Life The story of Bridgham in Norfolk, which he said represented Danny Boyle’s opening part of the ceremony ‘Green and Pleasant Land’.

He also gave a copy of Lest We Forget, a 2006 book written by Mr O’Neale about Bridgham and Roudham during to the Great War, to three young men who were playing first world war soldiers in the Olympic opening ceremony.

1 comment

  • David Oneale is one hell of a man. A brilliant example to us all. His enthusiasm is infectious and I'm proud to know him. Well done David.

    Report this comment

    Joanne Ludbrook

    Thursday, August 2, 2012

Other news

Scenes from the Norfolk County Council Election count at Memorial Hall in Dereham for the Breckland Area - Thetford East UKIP winning candidate Denis Crawford. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A county councillor has come under fire after a town was left with no representation at a meeting on controversial plans for a £3.5m bus interchange.

Yesterday, 14:51
Snetterton Energy Plant.

A pair of Scandinavian firms have snapped up the rights to build a straw-fired biomass plant at Snetterton.

Wed, 16:51
Police Officers. Picture: Ian Burt

Police are appealing for witnesses after a pushchair was stolen from a communal stairwell in Beck Row.

Wed, 09:56
Tony Tomlinson during a break in hearing in his High Court dispute with former friend John Pickup. Photo by Paul Keogh.
The case invovled the formation of Amputees in Action Ltd in 2004

A Thetford amputee and a former Diss amputee who started a talent agency for limbless stuntmen and actors after meeting on Hollywood blockbusters are involved in a legal battle over who owns the company.

Most Read

Scenes from the Norfolk County Council Election count at Memorial Hall in Dereham for the Breckland Area - Thetford East UKIP winning candidate Denis Crawford. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A county councillor has come under fire after a town was left with no representation at a meeting on controversial plans for a £3.5m bus interchange.

Read more
Friday, November 21, 2014
Brett Conroy. PIC: Submitted custody image

A man who has previously been convicted of manslaughter is today starting a life sentence after carrying out a “cold blooded, ruthless attack” on a man who owed him money while he was sleeping.

Read more
Mon, 10:43

Two men arrested over a fight in Thetford on Saturday night have been released on bail.

Read more
Friday, December 9, 2011
Newfoundlands pulling Christmas trees at Elveden

Christmas is in full swing in a corner of Suffolk this year.

Read more
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Michael Chapman's 1925 Bentley.

I purchased my first car in 1958 from D Marguiles Ltd in London for the sum of £385.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 9°C

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Thetford and Brandon e-edition today E-edition