The official mascots of the Olympic Games and their close links with Bolton were unveiled last night.
Bolton was chosen to host a special launch event along with only three other venues in the country, to coincide with the broadcast of an Olympic mascot film on national television.
Hundreds of civic dignitaries, school children and local sporting celebrities gathered in Bolton Arena to watch an animated film about the mascots, and the story behind their creation.
The story shows how inspiration for the official Olympic and Paralympic mascots came from Bolton steel firm Watson Steel Structures, which has supplied thousands of tons of steel for the Olympic stadium.
Children’s author Michael Morpurgo wrote the story, telling how Wenlock and Mandeville were made from the last two drops of Watson’s steel being used to build the Olympic Stadium.
The film shows how the mascots go on separate journeys, often crossing paths and meeting people all over the country inspiring them to choose sport as they head towards the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.
The mascots’ names reflect the UK’s Olympic and Paralympic histories. Wenlock’s name is inspired by the Shropshire village of Much Wenlock where the modern Olympic Games were created.
Mandeville’s name is inspired by Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire, birthplace of the modern Paralympic movement.
Councillor Cliff Morris, leader of Bolton Council, hailed the connection with the Olympic Games as brilliant for Bolton. He said: “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."
Paralympian Rachel Latham, who trains in Bolton, added: “To be one of the first to see the film was absolutely brilliant. My mascot from the last games is still in its box. It’s pretty extraordinary to think that the mascots which are something so iconic have been born in Bolton.”
Iain Hill, Watson Steel’s design director, said: “We’ve always been in Bolton and 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."