Shelagh Fogarty: Games outbreak of peace and harmony could be catching

No artifical highs required as the Olympic Park is full of the real McCoy

I was at an event yesterday afternoon where Paralympians past and present were speaking. John Register, who represented the United States at the Paralympics in several sports after a catastrophic knee injury sustained as an Olympic trials hurdler left him a lower limb amputee, told us the Olympic and Paralympic Games are the closest thing to Peace on Earth. Americans, eh? Watched Oprah once too often if you ask me... then again maybe he has a point.

I've seen and heard a lot this past week at the Paralympics London 2012 which has, put simply, made me feel good. No artificial highs required here because the Olympic Park is already full of the real McCoy, and I say that as someone who is supremely suspicious of organised fun.

Take the Games Makers, for instance. Late on Sunday night as a stadium full of satisfied sports fans traipsed gently towards the now famous Javelin train to central London, the young man whose job it is to keep several thousand people calm and happy while they wait didn't put a foot wrong. No forced cheeriness, just a hint of a smile in the voice that said, "You won't like this but there might be a bit of a delay". Group sigh, group feet shuffle, and the low murmur of thousands saying variations on the same theme.

"Anyone having a birthday?" he asks. You guessed it. The next minute we're all singing "Happy Birthday" to... I honestly don't remember who, but it didn't matter. We were bonding over nonsense. Then came "If you're happy and you know it..." Hmmm. He realised pretty soon that would only go so far with the grown-ups. His real triumph, though, was in how he delivered the news that the Javelin wouldn't be coming for two hours. Somehow we didn't seem to mind and I'm not imagining it when I say I think everyone said an individual "Thank you and goodbye" to him as we took alternative routes.

Then there's the crowd who come to cheer and wave and chat on the radio every day between 12 and 2pm with me and my guests. Some come and stay while others swing by en route to lunch or a sports venue. One little girl, aged about four, was sitting on her dad's shoulders as the hundreds around her roared every time Jody Cundy showed them his bronze medal from the cycling competition. She can't have known much about it but she understood enough to whisper, once the cheering had stopped, "Well done". The cute-o-meter went off the scale.

Dame Kelly Holmes joined me and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson on air and the lunchtime crowd went wild. Her double triumph in the Athens Olympics of 2004 clearly as fresh in their minds as her legs were on the nights she took gold in the 800m and 1500m on the track. We sent a roving mic into the crowd and, as the two women took questions from the lucky few, it struck me that here we had our own double Olympic triumph. An Olympian with two golds and a Paralympian with 11 sitting side by side at the Paralympic Games surrounded by the same crowd, the same need for heroes and the same respect for achievement. Could the spectators at Stoke Mandeville who witnessed the first of the Paralympics have imagined they would come this far?

Peace on Earth it might not be, but a lesson in harmony probably isn't stretching it too far.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific