Great Cornard: Mod-mad scooter enthusiasts share centre stage at Olympic’s closing ceremony
WHEN ‘Mod-mad’ Warren Brown received an e-mail six months ago asking if he would be interested in riding his 1974 Vespa Rally scooter during the Olympics closing ceremony, he thought someone was “pulling his leg”.
And even following six weeks of rehearsals and a show-stopping performance on Sunday evening, the Great Cornard man and more than a dozen of his Essex and Suffolk scootering friends were still “in shock” after taking centre stage at the spectacular.
Mr Brown, 47, was one of 200 scooter enthusiasts invited to audition to be part of a Mod-themed section of the ceremony, which eventually saw a fleet of 50 scooters enter the arena to the sound of The Who’s classic, Pinball Wizard, performed by the Kaiser Chiefs.
“We had been travelling back and forth to Dagenham for long wet days rehearsing the routine alongside several celebrities, but we were not allowed to tell anyone,” Mr Brown enthused.
The group, which included riders from Clacton, Colchester, Braintree and Sible Hedingham, only got a brief chance to see what they were letting themselves in for just before the event started.
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One of them, John Hedges, of Braintree, said: “The overwhelming emotion before we went out was of sheer terror when you saw all those thousands of people watching.
“It was a huge responsibility and after having ridden the scooter 50 miles from Essex to London in the morning, my biggest fear was that it was going to let me down.”
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According to 60-year-old Gordon Mac, who also took part in the ceremony, the Suffolk/Essex border area has seen a big revival in the Mod scene in recent years – a trend that is set to grow following cycling champion Bradley Wiggins’ interest in the scene, and the closing ceremony.
Mr Mac added: “Our section only lasted for a couple of minutes and a lot of it is still a blur. All in all, it was a mind-blowing experience to be part of it and we all feel honoured, proud and privileged to have been there.”