Chris Holmes is a solicitor working for an international law firm in the City who is on the list of approved Conservative parliamentary candidates. He is a former Disability Rights Commissioner, is Britain's most successful paralympic swimmer ever and was awarded the MBE for services to sport at the age of 20.
A little over four years ago I stood in the front row of the crowd amassed in Trafalgar Square when we heard those enormous words:
“The Games of the 30th Olympiad are awarded to the city of London”
Cue mass celebration, strangers hugging, dancing in the streets and an afternoon of joy. Perhaps it is the very diversity of that crowd which best makes the case for why we should all be excited about the London Olympic and Paralympic Games which will open in just over three years: the crowd was not invited dignitaries, the great and the good - it was ordinary folk from across our city celebrating a phenomenal achievement not just for London but for our entire country.
Having competed at four previous Games, I was perhaps in a privileged position to know just what a fantastic achievement this was and just what a difference it could make. When I went to my first Paralympic Games in Seoul in 1988 there was much talk as to the Koreans attitudes to disability and the position of disabled people in their society, or not as the case all too often appeared to be. And yet, when we arrived, the welcome was huge, the Games were a tremendous success and, perhaps most significantly, the lives of disabled people were transformed forever more, not least in the crucial areas of education and employment.
In Barcelona, in 1992, we saw a Games which took a city from being seen largely as a laughing stock, (no coincidence it being where the Fawlty Towers' immortal Manuel hailed from) to becoming one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.