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Principal to peasant for extravaganza

By Brentwood Gazette  |  Posted: August 02, 2012

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A COLLEGE principal has helped sign off a 40-year career in education by playing the role of a peasant in the Olympic opening ceremony.

Noel Otley – who officially steps down as principal of Havering College of Further and Higher Education in Hornchurch on August 31 – was in the "green and pleasant land" sequence.

Mr Otley, from Shenfield, could be seen on a bridge applauding a traditional cricket match at the beginning of the extravaganza.

As the countryside made way for the smoke stacks of the industrial revolution, his role involved carrying out a tree.

Mr Otley, 61, said: "It was fantastic. It was so exciting to be part of it. The transition to the industrial revolution was amazing. The drumming made the whole stadium pound and you could feel the vibrations through your body."

Rehearsals for the sequence started in May and were led by Toby Sedgwick, who provided the horse choreography for War Horse.

Mr Otley said: "I have met fantastic people along the way. Working with Toby Sedgwick was amazing. Danny Boyle was always at the rehearsals. He is a really nice bloke.

"It's impossible to pick out a personal highlight. It was just the fun of doing it. "

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