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Bolton provides mascots for London 2012
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Claire Balding discovers the story behind the London 2012 mascots

London may be the host city for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games but it turns out that the official mascots were born further north.

The story of Wenlock and Mandeville has revealed that inspiration for the characters came from Bolton steel firm Watson Steel Structures.

The firm provided thousands of tons of steel for the Olympic stadium.

The story of the mascots, created by children's author Michael Morpurgo, sees them formed from drops of steel.

That steel drops from the last girder to be produced by the foundry and is taken home by a retiring worker, who moulds them into the mascots for his two grandchildren.

WENLOCK AND MANDEVILLE
Olympic and Parlympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville
The names of the mascots pay tribute to the British part in starting the modern Olympic and Paralympic Games
Wenlock is named after Much Wenlock, which hosted a precursor to the Olympic Games in the 19th Century
Mandeville is named after the Stoke Mandeville Games of 1948, the first disability sport games in the world

A magic rainbow then fills them with life and whisks them off to London for Olympic and Paralympic adventures.

Iain Hill, Watson Steel's design director, said the company were very happy to be the inspiration for Wenlock and Mandeville.

"This is fabulous for us and the town. We've very proud that we have supplied steel for the games and that the mascots have been born here.

"This will really put Bolton on the map to a worldwide audience."

Paralympian Rachel Latham, who trains in Bolton, added that "it's pretty extraordinary to think that the mascots which are something so iconic have been born in Bolton."

Councillor Cliff Morris, leader of Bolton Council, agreed with both, hailing the connection with the Olympic Games as brilliant for Bolton.

He said that "to be a part of the Olympics 2012 story in this way is fantastic."

"To have the mascots born in Bolton is a coup for the town and the region, and shows that the Olympics 2012 are not just about London.

"The games will leave a lasting legacy and hopefully we will see more Bolton Olympic medallists at the games, and in the future."

The story of Wenlock and Mandeville can be seen in full on the official London 2012 website.




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