STUNNED! The engineer from the Fens who realised the part he had played in the Greatest Show on Earth
PUBLISHED: 13:23 04 August 2012
© Archant Norfolk 2012
WHEN Kim Allington settled down to watch the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games on TV, he had no idea of his starring role in the greatest show on earth.
Unlike the 15,000 performers who brought the display to life, his role remained a closely-guarded secret – even as the show reached its spectacular climax.
At that point, the Wisbech engineer was stunned to see his creations taking shape in front of an audience of millions and forming the symbolic Olympic cauldron which is the flaming icon of London 2012.
When Mr Allington, 53, began his mystery task, he thought he was making copper petals to be displayed in the Olympic Park – and the truth was not revealed to him until the flame was lit on live television last Friday.
“We thought we were making parts for a sculpture in the park,” he said. “I was watching the opening on the telly and everyone kept saying that the petals were being carried alongside the teams.
“I said it wasn’t them – but then you could see they were and it was the cauldron. I couldn’t believe it.”
As a self-employed engineer with a workshop in Sutton Road, Wisbech, Mr Allington said he had to think hard when asked by a company in Thorney, near Peterborough, to take part in the Olympic project.
Contour Autocraft was approached to find the skilled craftsmen needed to complete the project and contacted Mr Allington who runs Allington Engineering.
“I have regular customers and didn’t want to let anyone down. But it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m so glad I did it,” he said.
An experienced engineer with 34 years in the trade, he joined a small team of six craftsmen working together to form the copper petals when work started in February.
The 204 individual petals contained within the cauldron will be going all over the world at the end of the Games as each participating country will receive one.
“Just to think that something I worked on could end up in a museum anywhere in the world... amazing,” said Mr Allington.
The team made about 600 petals in total – with the first batch used as a practice set, a set for the Olympics and another for the Paralympics.
Each petal was hand-crafted and took about five hours to complete.
“It was a bit of a learning curve as well because it’s not something I would normally do,” explained Mr Allington. “But it was a real experience.
“We only finished the final ones a few days before the opening ceremony. It was tight really, but we got there.
“Money was no object, they just wanted it right and we had the skills in this area to do that.”
Mr Allington also got to keep one of the petals, a replica of the Team GB version, which he said he would have engraved and keep as an heirloom for his son Ryan who celebrated his ninth birthday last Saturday.