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St Helens in Olympic bid

Motto that inspired opening ceremony makes comeback after 40 years

Written by . Published on January 15th 2013.

St Helens in Olympic bid

DID you spot it? The link between the opening ceremony of last summer's Olympic Games and the Borough of St Helens? 

Many residents of the glasstown, home of the mighty Saints Rugby League team and Johnny Vegas, want St Helens to officially recognise the part their patch played in the spectacular event, created by Danny Boyle. And that can only mean one thing …. the town switching back to the old coat of arms it sported from 1876 until 1974. 

So it's out with the new, in with the old. 

Frank-Cottrell-Boyce_MEDFrank Cottrell BoyceThe old borough coat of arms, with its Latin strapline – Ex Terra Lucem – or “Out of the earth came light”, was used as the inspiration for the ceremony, watched by more than one billion people worldwide.

The motto reflected the importance of coal and glass to the area, which opening ceremony writer Frank Cottrell Boyce wove into the theme of much of the event. It was particularly relevant to the development of the cauldron idea, he says, from with the Olympic flame was lit.

Frank was born in 1959 in nearby Rainhill which which was consumed by St Helens during the big shake-up of borough boundaries in 1974. To be fair, Frank did go to West Park School in St Helens.

It's a pity the father-of-seven, who now lives in Crosby, didn't take the inspiration from nearby Bootle. The neck-jerking motto of the town is “Look Backwards, Look Around, Look Forward” - or Respice, Aspice, Prospice (not to mention Posh and Scary).

'Beyond words'

Since the Olympics there has been a groundswell of opinion in St Helens that the town should revert to the old motto, which would replace the current Prosperitas in Excelsis – meaning “Flourishing Well”. That was introduced in 1974 to reflect the aforementioned boundary changes.

St Helens Council Leader Marie Rimmer said: “What a tremendous tribute to the borough’s historic legacy and our key role in the Industrial Revolution which featured so prominently in the London 2012 ceremony.

"For our borough to be an integral part of a ceremony that captured the attention of the world is beyond words. We have had lots of people asking to revert to the Ex Terra Lucem motto over a number of years and many more recently in recognition of the Olympics.”

The town hall's cabinet has agreed to take the proposal to full council this Wednesday.

Dream_Sthelens01The Dream at Sutton ManorIt's not the first time the motto has provided cultural food for thought: It was used by miners who planned the Dream public artwork in Sutton Manor.

And a number of signs bearing the legend already exist across the borough, including the Saints new £30m stadium, Langtree Park.

It's likely should the wholesale change be approved it would be applied on an “as and when required basis”, meaning it would not incur any additional cost.

The only cost would be small fee to the College of Arms to register the change.

The thing is, unless there is an extra strap-line declaring, say, “the inspiration behind the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony”, will anybody notice?

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