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Spectacular Olympic rings created by Lewes firm
It was possibly the most iconic moment of the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony.
And it was created by 12 people from Sussex.
The spectacular five fiery rings which met to create the shape of the Olympic symbol were constructed by Howard Eaton Lighting, based in Cooksbridge, near Lewes.
The first ring was raised 328ft into the air followed by another four rings, which had been previously hidden above the stadium roof, which flew across the arena to join the central ring.
The pyrotechnics were triggered by computer to create a 15-second shower of silver sparks, followed by a 15-second shower of gold sparks.
The 40-strong crew beneath were protected from the blinding light and heat of the sparks by fireproof overalls and welders’ caps and goggles.
Howard Eaton Lighting, which has been trading for 25 years, specialises in show business spectaculars.
It designed and built the car for the West End Musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, installed the lighting at the Imperial War Museum North and created the automation of canons for the Nelson Victory Experience.
Managing director Howard Eaton said the rings were designed and built at the firm’s factory in Resting Oak Hill.
He said 12 people worked on the project for three months and all staff were sworn to secrecy.
He said: “We won the order in November and started work in March. We delivered the rings just before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
“Everyone signed a non-disclosure agreement. The project kept changing all the time. We made a series of warning lights which were to be used when the stuntman jumped out of the helicopter dressed as the Queen – but the gag was changed in the end.
“We have also created what we hope will be an iconic item for the closing ceremony but for now we’ve got to keep that under wraps.”
Other Sussex firms are also set to reap the business benefit from the Olympic legacy.
Across the county 98 business contracts have been signed with firms.
Yellowave, the beach volleyball centre in Madeira Drive, Brighton, has laid on extra coaching and introductory sessions to meet the demand fuelled by interest in the Games.
The GB women’s beach volleyball pair of Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin have often played in tournaments at Yellowave Manager Elly Trimingham said: “We’ve never experienced anything like it, the phone has not stopped ringing.
“We have put on extra introductory courses and coaching sessions to cope with demand. When we opened in 2007 few people in Brighton played beach volleyball, but now we are a major centre for developing new talent.”
Cordek Ltd, based in Slinfold, near Horsham, made parts for the diving boards for the Aquatic Centre and helped prepare the site for the Velodrome in the capital.
Managing director Rodney White said: “It was a very challenging project but one which enabled us to develop new skills within the business and work on a scale we had not previously experienced.”
At Hepworth’s brewery in Nightingale Road, Horsham, the lightweight Olympian beer has been created for armchair athletes.
Brewery boss Andy Hepworth said the 2.5% ale has a light malt and treacle taste and that it is perfect for drinking while watching the Games.