By David Gold at the Paralympic Village in London

paralympicsgb welcome_ceremony_28-08-12August 28 - ParalympicsGB have been given a warm welcome into the Paralympic Village with a performance from the National Youth Theatre which celebrated the country's proud heritage.

The 301-strong team, led into the Village Plaza by Chef de Mission Craig Hunter, were given a lively welcome with a colourful performance designed to inspire Britain's Paralympic hopes ahead of the Opening Ceremony of the Games tomorrow night.

The ceremony featured a number of songs from one of the country's most famous music groups, Queen.

As the athletes arrived, the song "Bicycle" was played, and "We are the Champions" and "Don't Stop me Now" also featured in the performance.

"To welcome the world to London, we have created a unique experience and assembled 140 exceptional performers who represent the very best of Britain in terms of talent, aspiration and diversity," Paul Roseby, the artistic director of the National Youth Theatre and the director of the Team Welcome Ceremonies, said.

"They represent our nation and the National Youth Theatre with their raw, brave talent and we are extremely proud to be part of these Games."

London Mayor Boris Johnson, Sports Minister Hugh Robertson and Shadow Olympics Minister Dame Tessa Jowell – who worked hard as Sports Minister in 2005 to bring the Olympics and Paralympics to London – were all in attendance.

They were joined by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson (pictured below), the country's best known Paralympian, to welcome the team.

Baroness Tanni_Grey-Thompson_28-08-12
"After years of practice, after hours of dedicated training, after all of the struggle and sacrifice your time has come," Baroness Tanni said.

"We are so excited that you are finally here and can't wait to experience the extraordinary talent, excitement and pride you will bring.

"The Games are now coming home to the country where they started.

"For the next few weeks athletes and officials from 166 teams from different backgrounds, countries and cultures will call our Paralympic Village their home.

"The power of sport can bring people together, whether at a local level or globally through elite sport.

"Through these Games we want to inspire lasting change across the world.

"You as athletes can help us to achieve this.

"Every member of my village team will do what it takes to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable, and we hope you will take home lasting memories."

Responding to the powerful performance of the young theatre group, Hunter said: "That was the most amazing Welcome Ceremony.

"We had virtually all of our team present – that was a special and quite unique moment.

"Bring on the Games, everyone is ready for the competition to start."

The show was a celebration of the two Elizabethan ages Britain has experienced.

paralympicsgb welcome_ceremony_28-08-121
Dancers were dressed in a combination of modern urban street gear and formal attire from the time of Queen Elizabeth I to celebrate the country's history.

Eva Loeffler, the Paralympic Village Mayor and daughter of Sir Ludwig Guttman, who began the Paralympic Movement at Stoke Mandeville hospital in 1948, the last time London hosted the Games, said the young performers were "brilliant".

"I have loved every single ceremony that they have performed with energy and vibrancy," continued Loeffler.

"I have heard nothing but the athletes saying 'It is the best Team Welcome Ceremony ever'."

Peter Norfolk, the double wheelchair tennis quad singles gold medallist who will be ParalympicsGB's Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony tomorrow night, said that the ceremony was "very diverse, very different, exciting and upbeat".

"It is going to be just amazing, I can't wait," he added.

Britain is hoping to better its performance from Beijing four years' ago, where they picked up 102 medals, 42 of which were gold.

The host nation is hoping to finish second in the medal table for the fourth Paralympic Games in a row, and win at least 103 medals this time around.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
August 2012: Strong British performance is vital for successful Paralympics, declares IPC President
August 2012: British Paralympians set a target of 103 medals at London 2012