Emeli’s as good as gold

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Alford singing sensation Emeli Sande delivered one of the standout moments in last Friday’s Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Around 27 million television viewers around the country saw her beautiful rendition of ‘Abide With Me’ during the show.

It has been an incredible year for the former Alford Academy pupil having only released her début single last summer.

Emeli’s album ‘Our Version of Events’ has reached double platinum status in the UK and she is currently on tour in North America as support to Coldplay.

Speaking after the show, where she performed alongside the likes of Sir Paul McCartney and the Arctic Monkeys, Emeli said on Twitter: “I will never ever forget tonight, thank you so much to (Director) Danny Boyle and all his team for this incredible experience.”

Local councillors have paid tribute to Emeli, who first showed her musical talents while performing local shows.

Councillor John Latham said: “Like many others in the Alford area, my family have keenly followed Emeli’s rising stardom.

“We recall those talented solo spots at Alford Academy concerts and last saw Emeli perform a couple of years ago at a music festival near Inverness where she seemed really pleased to chat to the Alford contingent afterwards.

“Now, beamed around the globe and on the same billing as Paul McCartney - it doesn’t come better than that!”

Fellow Alford councillor Moira Ingleby said: “It was absolutely spectacular to see Emeli performing at the opening ceremony.

“Her marvellous contribution made the ceremony all the more special for all of us living in Abedeenshire and we all had a great sense of pride to know that Emeli had grown up in Alford.”

Cllr Joanna Strathdee added that Emeli’s performance was an incredible achievement and the whole area should be “very proud” of her.

Many people from the North-east have travelled down to London to see the once-in-a-lifetime spectacle for themselves and soak up the atmosphere.

John Wills, Aberdeenshire Council’s trampolining development officer, flew to London on Saturday with wife Melanie to see the women’s artistic gymnastics and men’s weightlifting.

Banchory-based John, who was selected to be an Olympic torchbearer in Crathie in June, was returning to Deeside on Wednesday night.

“It’s been incredible!” said John, who was staying with family in Chiswick. “I know everybody is going to say that but according to the locals, the influx of people has been quite marked.”

John added: “The transport systems didn’t seem to be overloaded - people in London were fearing going to work on Monday but it didn’t seem quite as bad as they had expected.”

The couple watched the women’s artistic gymnastics at the North Greenwich Arena (formerly the O2) on Sunday afternoon and John said the athletes had done “a stunning job” in qualifications.

“Beth Tweddle, in particular, was just outstanding!” he said. “We were seated near to the start of the vault run-up, so had a good view.”

On Monday evening, the couple attended the men’s weightlifting event at the ExCeL Arena.

“We saw two Olympic records and one world record being broken,” said John. “It was really, really good!”

John and Melanie used London’s Tube system and said it had been very efficient at getting them about.

“There were crowds, but we haven’t had to miss a train because it’s been too full,” said John. “There are lots of people working down here as volunteers, including people from up north, who are all doing it for free and paying their own expenses.

“There’s an army of volunteers at every street corner and they’ve all got a pleasant word.”

Melanie applied for tickets at their first release, but didn’t get any, so was given priority when the second release went out, getting tickets for the gymnastics.

“A friend of ours got weightlifting tickets, so we bought them off her,” said John.

John said the success of the British men’s gymnastics team getting a bronze medal could bring a renewed interest in the sport.

“The problem is there isn’t a gymnastics club without a waiting list,” he said. “There aren’t enough coaches to get people into it.”