30 Aug 2012

Stephen Hawking to open Paralympics

8:05 am on 30 August 2012

Britain's most famous living scientist, Stephen Hawking, is to appear at the opening ceremony of London's Paralympic Games, with organisers promising a radical show challenging perceptions about disability.

Hawking, who has motor neurone disease and has been paralysed for most of his life, will make a rare public appearance to narrate segments of the ceremony.

The curtain-raiser to 11 days of sport, involving the traditional parade of many of the record 4200 athletes taking part, will begin with a fly-past by Aerobility, a charity that helps disabled people become pilots.

Hawking, who speaks using a voice synthesiser, will take centre-stage to deliver a series of messages to the 80,000-strong crowd and millions watching on television around the world.