Simon Weston honour at climax of Paralympic flame festival in Cardiff

Falklands veteran Simon Weston has lit the cauldron at the climax of a Flame Festival in Cardiff Bay to mark the Paralympics.

Hundreds of people braved wind and rain to gather for a lantern procession, mini-torch relay and concert on Monday night.

It followed a day-long series of events to welcome the flame to the city.

Hundreds also attended an indoor show by singer Charlotte Church and other performers.

Weston took the last leg of the relay at the climax of the event, ahead of Wednesday's Games opening in London.

He said it was an "extreme honour" to carry the flame and also light the cauldron on stage.

The former Welsh Guard said: "The Paralympics is something totally different. These are people who are achieving over adversity to the absolute maximum."

Image caption The cilimax included a procession of lanterns in Cardiff Bay

Weston, badly burned when the Sir Galahad was destroyed in 1982, said he was a huge admirer of the dedication of Paralympians.

"All these service personnel who have been terribly injured in conflict now know they can compete and push themselves to the limit of endurance."

"If any of them feel that's beyond them, then take a look when this all starts taking place."

"Paralympians prove to people they can do do things."

Earlier, paralympic cyclist Simon Richardson had started a day of events by lighting a cauldron at City Hall.

The climax was the Flame Festival at Cardiff Bay, which included a lantern procession of 200 people accompanying the torch bearers' relay as it arrived in Roald Dahl Plass.

Image caption Dawn and Ryan Fenner at the concert

Only Kids Aloud, who were in a video played during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, performed at an open-air concert, as did choir Only Men Aloud.

While the rain may have deterred some from attending, those present were determined to have a good time.

Dawn Fenner from Cardiff said: "I'm thrilled so many people have come out. I didn't want to miss it for the world."

David Davies from Pontypridd said the weather did not matter. His wife Elaine added: "There's a good variety of acts and the event inside (the Wales Millennium Centre) was excellent.

"We want to see the torch and support the Paralympics."

Large numbers gathered at the Coal Exchange ahead of the lantern procession and torch relay.

Ieuan Coombes, 19, who has cerebral palsy, was one of those taking part.

He said: "I don't think enough people know about the Paralympics so to open it up to the masses is important. It's nice to see the weather has turned out as well!"

Torch bearer Sarah Murray, from Cardiff, was chosen because of her volunteer work with the Thrive Cardiff charity for children with special needs.

Her son, 11, also has disabilities.

She said: "It's such an honour and to be representing our charity which is a small charity is amazing."

Andrew Burt, 49, was chosen as a torch bearer for his work with judo locally in Pontarddulais.

He said: "My house is an open door, so anyone with a problem comes to see me."

He said it was a great honour to be chosen, after losing his leg five years ago following an injury and a series of operations.

Earlier, hundreds earlier gathered indoors at the Wales Millennium Centre to see Charlotte Church and others perform.

Image caption Charlotte Church performing at the Wales Millennium Centre

She received a huge ovation as she took to the stage in the foyer to perform some of her new material.

The crowd were told before she came on that she was releasing five new EPs over the next 12 months, the first of which was being released on Monday.

Afterwards the Cardiff singer talked of her enthusiasm for the Games.

"I think it's important an event is made of the Paralympics, I will watch as much as I can," she told BBC Wales.

"It's amazing to have the Olympics and the Paralympics."

She also said it was "brilliant" for Cardiff to have hosted Olympic football matches, as well as the torch relay.

"Everyone got massively into the Olympics, even those who didn't expect to. I think it will be just the same for the Paralympics, people are insatiable for it."

Image caption Concert-goers in waterproofs at the Flame Festival in Cardiff Bay

During the day, disability sports events and demonstrations in The Hayes in the city centre went ahead, although some ended early due to the weather.

Activities had started with the final Paralympic cauldron to be lit in the home nations ahead of the opening of the Games on Wednesday.

The honour went to cyclist Simon Richardson, from Porthcawl, who won two gold and a silver at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics.

But his hopes of taking part in London 2012 were dashed when he was knocked off his bike while training by a motorist over the drink-drive limit.

He said: "I would have preferred to have been competing but this is the next best thing. It was such a shock to get the phone call asking me to do this."

A splinter of the flame was flown by helicopter to Colwyn Bay, where a mini-relay was held at Parc Eirias. Another was taken to Swansea ahead of an event on Tuesday.

Cardiff was the last of four cities in the UK to hold a festival marking the arrival of the Paralympic flame.

Flames from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England will unite before a relay to Wednesday's opening ceremony.

From Cardiff the flame will be taken to Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, where it will be united with flames that were lit on the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

A ceremony will be held on Tuesday and a single Paralympic flame will be created for the 24-hour torch relay that ends at the Paralympic Stadium on Wednesday.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites