Ring it on!

Children from St Bega's Primary School rining bells on the Headland this morning to mark the start of the Olympics. From left are: Patrick Hughes, Tani Hughes, Isabella Pettite, Elizabeth Skidmore, Amy Williams, Alisha Clark and Sam Williamson.
Children from St Bega's Primary School rining bells on the Headland this morning to mark the start of the Olympics. From left are: Patrick Hughes, Tani Hughes, Isabella Pettite, Elizabeth Skidmore, Amy Williams, Alisha Clark and Sam Williamson.

SCORES of people marked the start of the Olympic Games with a mass bell-ringing extravaganza as part of a nationwide effort.

These pupils from St Bega’s Primary School, on Hartlepool’s Headland, led the heralding of the event, with tonight’s opening ceremony being dubbed “the greatest show on earth”.

They joined in at 8.12am today as millions of people across the UK were expected to take part in the bell-ringing.

People were encouraged to ring a bell, be it a door bell, a church bell, a bicycle bell or any other bell to show their support for the global sporting spectacular.

The children descended on the Town Square, in Middlegate on the Headland and used handbells from St Mary’s Church to mark the iconic moment, which coincided with millions of other bells across the country, including Big Ben, ringing out in harmony for the magnificent games.

Headteacher Mike Cooney also took part by ringing the school bell.

Terry Curren, a school governor, said: “It’s gone really well, the sun was shining and it sounded beautiful.
“The children enjoyed being part of this very special moment.”

Pupil Patrick Hughes, aged seven, said: “I really liked taking part and am looking forward to the games, especially the javelin.”

Other groups getting in on the act included the Hartlepool Bellringers group, who sounded the chimes at Hartlepool Art Gallery, within the former Christ Church in Church Square, and at All Saints Church in Stranton.

HMS Trincomalee’s ship’s bell also rang out loud and town funeral director Gerald Martin, of Mason and Gerald Martin also joined colleagues outside his Park Road-based premises to join in with the once-in-a-lifetime festivities.

Around four billion people were expected to tune in to watch tonight’s opening ceremony.

The nationwide initiative was organised by Turner Prize-winning artist and musician Martin Creed as part of the London 2012 Festival.

Organisers hoped it would set a world record for the number of bells being rung simultaneously.

Thousands of people and organisations registered to take part including the RAF, the National Trust, the National Theatre, the Mayor of London, the Archbishop of Westminster and The Girl Guides Association.