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Farewell from Manchester 2002

05 August 2002

Manchester says goodbye to ‘best’ Commonwealth Games with spectacular stadium ceremony for The Queen and athletes.

Closing Ceremony

The Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games were being hailed today as the best ever following last night’s spectacular farewell to the world that included a special Golden Jubilee gift for The Queen, an international message of hope and the biggest party ever for the stars of the Games – the athletes.

Manchester’s global goodbye was a rousing celebration of British culture focusing on the spirit of the host city that organised the largest and most successful multi sport event ever staged in Britain.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, today said the Games in Manchester were probably the best ever.

“This is a tremendous tribute to the skill and vision of the people of Manchester and the North West who put on a fantastic showcase for the region and Britain,” said the Prime Minister who attended last night’s ceremony with his wife.

The City of Manchester Stadium was transformed into a living work of art during the ceremony as 800 young people from across Manchester and the North West wielded 1,600 paintbrushes and 800 pots of paint to create the largest and fastest portrait of The Queen, filling 1,000 square metres of fabric with an image of Her Majesty in just 90 seconds.

“The Ceremony was one of the largest and last of the public Golden Jubilee events and we wanted to provide Her Majesty with something special to remember the occasion,” said Sue Woodward, Creative Director of Manchester 2002, responsible for Ceremonies.

The Ceremony, directed and devised by Nigel Jamieson, also celebrated the athletic achievements of the biggest Commonwealth Games sports competition ever with a giant party for nearly 5,000 athletes and officials who gathered around the stage in the centre of the arena where they were entertained by a wealth of performers and artists.

These included world music leaders such as Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame and reggae pioneer Jimmy Cliff as well as current pop idols such as Will Young and Heather Small from M People.

South African athlete Natalie Du Toit – who set world records in the 100m and 50m Elite Disabled Athlete swimming after having her left leg amputated following a motor scooter accident – was presented with the inaugural David Dixon Award as outstanding athlete of the Games.

It is the first time such an award has been presented at a major international multi sport event.

“Manchester, you are the best,” declared Mike Fennell, Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation, the international governing body of the Games.

Manchester 2002 Chairman, Charles Allen, praised staff, especially the contribution of the volunteer workforce, for delivering Manchester’s widely acclaimed festival of sport and culture.

A stunning giant dove – with a wingspan stretching from one side of the stadium to the other – was formed in the arena from lanterns carried by residents from Manchester and the region.

As the 2,000 lanterns were rearranged, the outline of human dove dissolved into a plea for the world to “Seek Peace” in one of the most artistically ambitious productions ever staged in the United Kingdom.

The haunting sounds of the didjeridoo from Aboriginal Australia and colourful projection images of Melbourne landmarks provided a glimpse of the setting for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in the former Olympic city during the traditional handover section of the Ceremony.

In a highly innovative segment that merged spectacle with spirituality on a grand scale, a giant glowing human body was assembled in the stadium from multifaith and religious structures which were carried into the arena on a dazzling river of light to symbolise the ‘common wealth’ and common humanity of the Commonwealth which represents more than a quarter of the world’s population and land mass.

Manchester icons including stars of the world famous locally produced television soap opera, Coronation Street, joined future stars from Manchester United and Manchester City in a segment of joyous fantasy that also featured 80 ballroom dancers and a cavalcade of Morris Minors and gold coloured cabs as Manchester moved into high gear party mode before an emotional final farewell to The Queen and the Manchester 2002 Games.

Waving 40,000 flags of St George, the capacity crowd waved goodbye to the Games as fireworks set Mighty Manchester’s skyline ablaze, The Queen leaving the stadium after a last rousing rendition of Land of Hope and Glory, England’s stirring Games anthem which as enjoyed a massive revival during these Games.

“We wanted to provide some moments that would wow the world and inspire future generations when people think of the Manchester Commonwealth Games. We also wanted to remind people of what this country is capable of achieving when we dream big dreams, ” said Sue Woodward.

The Closing Ceremony was produced by Jack Morton Worldwide (UK) which also produced the highly regarded Opening Ceremony that featured Manchester United and English football hero David Beckham and Kirsty Howard, the terminally ill Manchester Hero Girl who inspired the world when she helped the Queen to open the Games.

“We designed the ceremonies to reflect the diversity and energy of Manchester and the Commonwealth and in the process introduced new possibilities and realities for stadium theatre in the UK,” said Chairman, Lois Jacobs.

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