Llanfyllin man looks on the bright side of life in Olympic ceremony

Reporter:

Richard Jones

THE Spice Girls, George Michael and Take That all took part in the Olympic Games closing ceremony, a carnival of music and colour that was co-ordinated by artistic director Kim Gavin.
 

Kim Gavin is a master at choreographing events on a grand scale. He has produced some of the biggest live events of recent years, including Concert For Diana in 2007 and Take That's latest stadium tours.
 

So when given the job as artistic director of the Olympic and Paralympic closing ceremonies in February 2011 – which he described as “a once in a lifetime opportunity” – he set about finding the best talent in the country to perform alongside household names such as the Pet Shop Boys, Madness, Ray Davies and Annie Lennox.
 

In doing so he came across the talents of Harry Bell, an all singing, all dancing 27-year-old from Llanfyllin, who when younger even represented Great Britain’s judo squad at under 21 level.
 

Harry, who started singing while at Llanfyllin Primary School and won the National Eisteddfod as a child, now lives in London, where he is a stockbroker and a member of the London Welsh Male Voice Choir and the London Welsh Rugby Club Choir.
 

“I think Kim Gavin knew exactly what he wanted when putting together the closing ceremony so he came to visit us at the London Welsh Rugby Club Choir and asked us to audition for the role of dancing in traditional Welsh female costume alongside the legendary Eric Idle,” explained Harry.
 

“He liked what he saw so much that we not only got the part of dancing like fools but, as he knew a lot of us also performed with the London Welsh Male Voice Choir, were given the honour of singing the Olympic anthem.
 

“So I actually had two parts to play in the closing ceremony, firstly dressed up in women’s clothing and dancing alongside a living legend and then, after a quick four minute costume change, I got to represent Wales in front of the world by singing the Olympic anthem.
 

“The atmosphere inside the stadium was electric. The crowd was going absolutely mental and every time another music great came on stage the volume just went up a notch.”
 

The huge success of the closing ceremony – which was watched by a staggering 26.3 million BBC viewers – is even more impressive considering it was the first time any of the acts had performed inside the Olympic Stadium before.
 

Harry explained: “Those taking part in the opening ceremony could obviously rehearse in the stadium but we didn’t have the chance to do this, so instead Kim Gavin had two replica stadiums built in Dagenham, at the old Ford factory.
 

“The first time we performed in the stadium was on the night, but there was no need to worry as we had all rehearsed for months and knew exactly what we were doing – it was like a military operation.
 

“I must admit I am pretty shattered now, as not only have did I do the closing ceremony on Sunday I also performed, and came third, in the National Eisteddfod on the Saturday before.”
 

Harry moved to London to become a stockbroker after studying at university in Leeds, but before moving to the capital he studied at both Llanfyllin Primary School and High School.
 

He was also a member of the Alan Jones Judo Club at Welshpool and Llanfyllin and represented the Welsh senior team and the Great Britain under 23 squad.
 

“I loved judo but was always going to be a career person so couldn’t dedicate the same amount of time to the sport as others,” said Harry, who was the Wales judo team’s first reserve at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002.
 

“Realistically I probably got as far as I could in the sport and wouldn’t have made the Olympics as a sportsman, but I have now played a small part as a singer, which I am very, very happy about.”
 
 

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