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Glaswegians are urged to embrace Commonwealth Games

THE writer who scripted the opening ceremony for London's Olympic Games has urged Scots to suspend any "cynicism" they might have about the forthcoming Glasgow Games.

Professor Frank Cottrell Boyce, a screenwriter, academic and children's author, was the writer behind the 2012 opening ceremony, directed by Danny Boyle.

He said one of the lessons he learned from the Olympics was that the public underestimated how much a big sporting event could transform a city.

Mr Cottrell Boyce was speaking to The Herald in the week he delivered a speech at the University of Strathclyde about the power of reading and children's stories.

Despite concerns over the cost of the Games and what legacy they will leave Glasgow he said the city should embrace them.

"I think there is always the danger of cynicism beforehand, but, I would say, it is going to happen, so get involved," he said.

"The saddest thing I heard about the Olympics was people saying, 'Well, if I knew it was going to be this good, I would have gotten involved'.

"People remember what happened at the Olympics and the incredible way that the volunteers transformed London. Games can transform cities, I would say. The Commonwealth Games are going to happen, and the only reaction is to embrace them."

The London Olympics opening ceremony was acclaimed for a section dedicated to the NHS, for its celebration of UK music and culture and a section where the Queen appeared to skydive into the Olympic stadium.

The 2014 Glasgow Games run from July 23 to August 3 and 18,000 volunteers, Clyde­siders in a bespoke uniform, will be a key part of the celebrations.

Last week, Mr Cottrell Boyce delivered the 11th Kilbrandon Lecture at Strathclyde University, when he spoke about the power of story-telling and how time should be left in education for children to learn to read for pleasure. He said: "We define ourselves through stories. We might be ugly ducklings, prodigal sons, sleeping beauties, heroes, villains, winners, losers.

"The stories we offer our children and young people are a map of human possibilities."

The Kilbrandon Lecture series was inaugurated in 1999, to acknowledge the legacy of Lord Kilbrandon, whose 1964 report led to the creation of Scotland's Children's Hearings System.

Mr Cottrell Boyce won the ­Carnegie Medal for his first book - Millions - in 2004, which was made into a film by Boyle.

His other books include The Unforgotten Coat, which won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis. His screenplays also include Hilary and Jackie and 24 Hour Party People.

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