Olympics opening ceremony is dream come true for deaf Highbury dancer

16:42 27 July 2012

Mike Hawthorne

Mike Hawthorne


For one Highbury resident, the start of the Olympic Games tomorrow won’t just be the start of a huge celebration for London, it will also be the culmination of a lifetime’s dancing dream.

Mike Hawthorne, 51, who lives near Highbury Fields, is one of only four deaf people out of 1,400 dancers taking part in the official opening ceremony.

And Mike, who was born without hearing, has a history of trailblazing. He became the first deaf person to win the British Veterans’ Gymnastics Championships back in 1987.

Originally from Essex, he moved to Islington to be part of the very strong deaf community in the borough.

Then last year he saw an advert to be part of the Olympic cast performing at the curtain-raising show and put himself forward.

“I had my first audition last November with 72 other hopefuls,” said Mike. “I did really well with my dancing, I think mainly thanks to my gymnastic skills.

“I received a call later that month to come back and audition with 400 dancers but I didn’t think I would get a place in the show.

“Then they called me back in January to congratulate me for being part of the opening ceremony. I couldn’t believe it, I was over the moon.”

But after the joy of being selected the real hard work began.

“We have been in rehearsals almost every day since April – but these last two weeks have been the hardest ever.

“But it’s been really good – we have met Danny Boyle many times. I think he would be surprised to know that four of us are deaf dancers, but we can do it. We are so positive about the whole thing.

“I am doubly lucky, because I have also been chosen to be a gamesmaker, which means I will be volunteering on the transport desk in the athletes village.

“But for now I can’t wait to perform as part of the opening ceremony tomorrow night. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”


Latest Islington News Stories

Yesterday, 17:51

A Broadchurch actor described as a “dangerous sexual predator” who targeted vulnerable women has been jailed for eight years.

Yesterday, 16:34

A wheelchair-bound mum today said she is scared to leave the house, as the bus driver who ran her over at a zebra crossing was banned from driving for six months.

Yesterday, 12:34

Newington Green Unitarian Church is in desperate need of repair. Nothing unusual there. What sets it apart, finds James Morris, are the 300 years of radical history witnessed by its crumbling walls.

Yesterday, 10:29

As one of the busiest news patches in the country, the Gazette always has a long list of important issues to take up with Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn.

Yesterday, 08:56

Islington Council reinforced its “idle engine” campaign with a giant snakes and ladders mat in Upper Street.

Mon, 18:23

A banned pet owner who crammed dozens of animals into her filthy Crouch Hill home has been spared jail – again.

Mon, 17:15

A drug dealer who sent a death threat to the councillor who closed Farringdon superclub Fabric has been jailed for eight months.

Mon, 14:42

Police are appealing for help to find 15-year-old Tia Harrold, who was last seen by her mother in Old Street on October 13.

Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news


Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now