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Cameron hails Games as proud moment

David Cameron has hailed the Paralympic Games as an event to fill the country with pride as a ceremonial cauldron was lit in London's Trafalgar Square to launch the torch relay.

The Prime Minister watched as Claire Lomas, who became the first person to complete a marathon in a bionic suit, lit the cauldron from the English national flame kindled on Scafell Pike earlier this week.

Organisers have confirmed 2.3 million tickets have been sold for the Games so far, with London 2012 chairman Lord Coe predicting that spectators watching events for the first time will be "blown away".

Speaking in Trafalgar Square, Mr Cameron said: "The Olympic Games made our country proud. I believe these Paralympic Games will make our country prouder still. Over these next two weeks, we're going to have more of those moments that will bring us together and make us proud.

"We are going to show the whole world that when it comes to putting on a show, there is no country like Britain and no city like London."

Ms Lomas, who was left paralysed from the chest down following a horse-riding accident in 2007, walked the London Marathon earlier this year in a pioneering robotic suit, raising £204,000 for Spinal Research.

The cauldron lighting in London will be followed by similar events in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff on consecutive days over the bank holiday weekend.

The four national flames will then be brought together in Stoke Mandeville on Tuesday where they will create the Paralympic flame, signalling the start of the relay.

It will be carried 92 miles by 580 torchbearers, working in teams of five, to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford where it will be used to light the cauldron at Wednesday's opening ceremony.

Buckingham Palace has confirmed the Duke of Edinburgh will not attend the Paralympic curtain-raiser as he continues to recover from a bladder infection. Philip was due to attend with the Queen when she officially opens the ceremony but will instead remain at the family's private Balmoral estate in Scotland.

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