Havering College principal was medieval peasant in Olympic opening ceremony

Noel Otley, 61, from Brentwood, played a medieval peasant in the sequence of the Olympic opening ceremony entitled “Green and Pleasant Land”, the very first scene of the show.

In August Mr Otley will step down as principal of Havering College of Further and Higher Education, based in Ardleigh Green Road, Hornchurch, after leading the school for 13 years.

He said: “I did the whole thing because I thought it would be good fun and exciting. I was really pleased. Right from the early days of the auditions people like Danny Boyle were there and involved. I was really thrilled when I got called for the auditions.

“I didn’t tell anybody about it - I just kept it quiet. I don’t know why.

“When we moved into doing rehearsals in the stadium it was fantastic. It is a big stadium but it really feels quite cosy. It felt nice to be in there.


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“It really was a thrill. We had two dress rehearsals earlier in the week in front of an audience so we could feel what it was like in front of a live audience. What was really interesting was that you got the buzz from the audience when they laughed or cheered and it all just added to the excitement.

“I have not done anything like this before and not in front of such an audience. I don’t know why but I didn’t feel frightened or nervy. I suppose it was because we practised it so much and there was so many of us. It felt thrilling as opposed to scary.

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“I have met fantastic people along the way. It is a kind of opportunity you won’t get again but a kind of thing that is there for posterity. You can talk to your grandkids about it.

“It was a one off chance to perform an event that is seen by billions of people around the world.”

For a full round-up of those from Havering who performed in the spectacular ceremony see this Friday’s Recorder.

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