Three volunteers from Croydon took part in the Paralympic opening ceremony.

Coleen Smith, Kate Nash and Rachel Starling performed with Professor Stephen Hawking and veteran actor Sir Ian McKellen in front of a capacity crowd.

They described the atmosphere as electric.

Mrs Smith, 35, who lives off Purley Way, was a dancer involved in the Celebration of Science part of the event, which was based around Sir Isaac Newton.

She said: "There was about 5,000 applicants for it so it was great to get through.

"It was totally amazing. It was fantastic to represent Great Britain in an event such as this. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity I will never forget.

"Backstage the atmosphere was electric, everyone was excited. The roar of the crowd when we were out there was great, I couldn’t believe I was actually there."

Mrs Nash, 57, from Caterham, was also one of the dancers for the event. She was one of the volunteers who circled the arena and danced throughout the whole event.

The retired teacher, said: "Just being there in that stadium and having the honour of following around the GB athletes was just fantastic.

"I always wanted to be involved in some way in either the Olympics or the Paralympics so it is so good for it to actually happen."

Ms Starling, who grew up in Croydon but now lives in Caterham, was a dancer in the book section of the event, which also featured Sir Ian McKellen, and was one of the umbrella dancers in the introduction to the event.

She said: "The number of people that united for this was brilliant. All sorts of people were involved to make it work, it was a fantastic buzz.

"The crowd was phenomenal. We knew what the stadium was like but there was nothing quite like going on and hearing the roar of that crowd. It was unbelievable."