Nurse from Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel talks of starring in Danny Boyle Olympic opening ceremony

A nurse who starred in the Olympic opening ceremony says it was one of the best experiences in her life working with Danny Boyle despite rehearsals in the rain and cold.

Senior sister Kelly Read was one of seven staff from the Royal London Hospital on Whitechapel Road, who landed a part in his NHS scenes.

She danced and pushed hospital beds around to create the smiley and tearful face synonymous with Great Ormond Street Hospital. She also helped form the letters NHS and a crescent moon.

The married 39-year-old mum said: “On the night it was a mixture of emotions.

“Although we had two dress rehearsals it was different when it was the real thing.


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“I was so excited but also feeling sheer terror knowing millions of people were watching.

“But it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was a once in a life time opportunity and not something many can say they were part of.

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“It was also an honour to represent the organisation I’m part of and believe in.”

Ms Read who looks after patients recovering from heart problems and surgery landed the part after responding to an email to the hospital asking for volunteers.

Following dance rehearsals at Three Mills Studios in Bromley-by-Bow last year she learned in February that she had landed a part.

Ms Read, who performs in amateur musical drama, had to commit to 150 hours of rehearsals in the evenings and at weekends at a site in Essex and later the Olympic Stadium. She also gave up a week’s annual leave.

She said: “It was really hard work. Sometimes we danced in the rain and cold, and were feeling quite low. But there was never any question we would do it.”

Boyle was at every single rehearsal, she said.

“He was absolutely amazing. He was very approachable and never too busy to answer a question. “He is so enthusiastic in sharing his ideas and vision. He was very encouraging and grateful for what we were doing.”

Seventeen other staff from Barts Health, the trust overseeing the hospital, also starred in the ceremony.

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