Hopes for 'best Paralympics ever'

One of Britain's greatest ever Paralympians said London 2012 would make people think differently about disabled sport, as a special service in honour of the Games was held at St Paul's Cathedral.

Baroness Grey-Thompson addressed more than 1,600 people gathered in the famous cathedral in central London for the first ever service to be dedicated to the Paralympics.

The Courage and Faith service included a procession of Paralympic medallists, led by nine-time gold medal-winning swimmer Chris Holmes, and a wheelchair basketball demonstration by Britain's men's under-22 team.

Baroness Grey-Thompson, an 11 times gold medal-winning Paralympian athlete told the congregation she hoped London would host "the best Paralympic Games ever" and said "excitement and anticipation" was building for Wednesday's opening ceremony.

She said: "In just three days the opening ceremony will begin and so starts what I hope will be the best Paralympic Games ever. Nelson Mandela once said that sport has the power to change the world, but I believe it goes beyond this. Paralympic sport has the power to change the world.

"The Paralympic Games will show the world what extraordinary athletes can do, who happen to have a disability. These Games will inspire a generation to think differently. I'm proud to see that, as I walk around London, posters of Paralympians adorn the streets. Paralympians are household names. The public care if they win or lose.

"I can't wait to see the supporters come to London, showing their national colours with pride as they get behind their teams."

The Bishop of London the Rt Rev Richard Chartres and the Lord Mayor of London David Wootton attended the service, which included a reading by Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee.

The Kaos Signing Choir for Deaf and Hearing Children performed, a day after welcoming the French Paralympic team following their arrival in the capital.

Displays of a number of Paralympic sports were held in the cathedral, including table tennis and wheelchair basketball.