An Olympics-obsessed nurse who took unpaid leave to take part in the opening ceremony was personally thanked by the head of the United Nations as Friday night’s extravaganza exceeded all expectations.
Kate Harries, who operated one of the clouds which opened the show and held the curtain back for the athletes to enter the stadium, was thanked by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as he walked past.
“It was a very surreal moment,” the 30-year-old palliative care nurse said.
“When the head of the UN turns round and thanks you… That was very bizarre.”
Ms Harries said she was “exhausted but elated” after the show, which “exceeded all expectations”.
“I can’t believe what I’ve just experienced,” she added. “One of my best nights ever.”
Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle dedicated the £27 million ceremony to the 15,000 volunteers who brought it to life, saying they represented “the best of us”.
Ms Harries, who was born in Aberystwyth, Mid Wales, and lives in Maida Vale, west London, said the show was the culmination of some 250 hours of rain-soaked rehearsals.
“It was absolutely incredible,” she said. “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I keep having to pinch myself to remind me it’s real.
“It showed Great Britain in a really, really great light.
“There were some poignant moments, but also some very funny bits as well, which you can’t always say of an opening ceremony.”
She also said there were a few tears during the show due to a “combination of the excitement and the exhaustion”.
Ms Harries, who works at University College London Hospital (UCLH), added that the NHS section was “remarkable”.
“It’s such an incredibly important institution in Britain,” she said.
Praising the doctors and nurses who gave up their time to take part despite their “incredibly difficult and challenging jobs”, she added: “It made me feel really proud of them.
“It was for me, personally, one of my favourite moments. I’m very grateful Danny Boyle included it.”