Paralympics: Closing Ceremony Ends London 2012 With War Heroes Centre Stage (PICTURES)

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War heroes and pop stars shared the stage as the London 2012 drew to a close, after six weeks of tears, roars and athletic prowess.

The closing ceremony - billed as the Festival of the Flame - lived up to its name as flame throwers, blazing torches and a gigantic heart of fire lit up the Olympic Stadium.

Captain Luke Sinnott who lost his legs and an arm in a blast on the battlefields of Helmand tonight helped close the Paralympic Games - by climbing a flagpole and proudly flying the Union Flag.

The courageous 32-year-old lost his limbs in 2010 after volunteering to search an area "saturated" with improvised explosive devices to protect his comrades.

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A scene during the Paralympic Games closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London

Stephen Daldry, London 2012's executive producer for all the opening and closing ceremonies described the flag unveiling as "devastatingly emotional".

Capt Sinnott, a keen sailor, is working towards his dream of competing at the Rio 2016 Paralympics in a boat funded by Help for Heroes.

Fifty four drummers created an avenue through which the Earl of Wessex, representing the Queen, and International Paralympic Committee chairman Sir Philip Craven entered the stadium.

They arrived in a custom-built car that began life as a military vehicle used in Afghanistan and was driven by Captain Tony Harris, who lost his left leg below the knee when he was caught in a blast in Sangin, Afghanistan in 2009.

Blind autistic singer Lissa Hermans, who also performed at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this year, sang the National Anthem.

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Performers during the Paralympic Games closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium

British megastars Coldplay played to an enraptured crowd, who sang along to hits including Yellow, Paradise and Us Against The World.

Drummer Mat Fraser, who was born with short arms after his mother took the drug Thalidomide during pregnancy, played with the band in one of the biggest gigs of their lives.

Coldplay frontman Chris Martin said: "Being asked to play at the closing celebrations for the Paralympic athletes in London is such a great honour for us.

"We were excited to try to create a performance for the last night of the games that closed London 2012 in style."

Swirling neon lights engulfed the stadium as Coldplay played, with each seat in the 80,000 seater stadium glowing in pinks, oranges, yellows, greens and blues.

The band duetted with US star Rihanna on Princess of China.

She said: "Being at the Paralympics is the biggest honour. These athletes are gladiators and are a true inspiration to me."

She later sang her hit We Found Love, in an orange jumpsuit and dangling from an ornate silver chair, suspended above black-clad dancers.

Rihanna led into Coldplay's Viva La Vida, an instrumental version of the song had earlier played in the Paralympic athletes as they came into the stadium.

The ceremony included some stunning effects and over 1,000 performers, including a cast of disabled artists, who had spent weeks learning circus skills for the show.

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Great Britain's flag bearers Sarah Storey and David Weir during the Closing Ceremony

The Paralympic Orchestra played as London mayor Boris Johnson passed the Paralympic Flag to the mayor of Rio Eduardo Paes.

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe told the packed stadium: "I want to share with you two stories from these days. Everyone will have their own tales to tell, but these are mine.

"I was travelling on the tube when I met someone wearing the familiar purple uniform and a pass marked Medic. A games maker.

"His name was Andrew and he told me he was a doctor at St Mary's hospital on his way to help out at Boxing.

"But when I tried to thank him, he wouldn't let me. He said he was the one who wanted to do the thanking. And as we did a very British dance over who should thank who, he suddenly cut through all the politeness and said: 'I was on duty on 7/7, that awful day.

"'For me this is closure. I wasn't sure I should come or whether I could face it. I'm so glad I did. For I've seen the worst of mankind and now I've seen the best of mankind'."

He also told the story of Gamesmaker Emily, a wheelchair basketball player who said the Games had "lifted the cloud of limitation."

He concluded: "There are some famous words you can find stamped on the bottom of a product. Words, that when you read them, you know mean high quality, mean skill, mean creativity.

"We have stamped those words on the Olympic and Paralympic Games of London 2012.

"London 2012. Made in Britain."

Teenage swimming star - and face of the games - Ellie Simmonds, 17, was joined by sprinting sensation Jonnie Peacock, 19, to play a part in the final moments of the Games.

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Coldplay and Rihanna duet at the Paralympics Closing Ceremony

As the Paralympic cauldron was extinguished they transferred the final flame to a London Paralympic Torch, which was then used to light hundreds of torches held by members of the cast throughout the field of play.

Coldplay, Rihanna, and rap superstar Jay-Z played as the flame spread across the stadium, singing Run This Town and a special version of Paradise.

Fountains of water rose from circular stages to finally extinguish the Paralympic Flame.

The send-off ended with a spectacular firework display that flashed over the Olympic Stadium and Park.

Fireworks lit up the sky along the Thames, including Tower Bridge and the words "Thank you London, thank you UK" were projected onto the Houses of Parliament.

Before the ceremony, Johnson told Channel 4's Jon Snow he wanted to see a legacy beyond the Games infrastructure "we also want to see a social legacy, a cultural legacy."

He said it was his job as Mayor to work out how to capitalise on the goodwill seen around London and the enthusiasm of the London 2012 volunteers.

Prime Minister David Cameron told Snow: "It's been an absolutely golden of British sport. It's given the country a great lift, it's brought people together, it's given the public a great lift.

"There's so much that's brilliant in Britain and I think that spirit will stay alive even when the events have finished.

He said watching the Paralympics had made him reflect on his own disabled son, Ivan, who died in 2009.

"Watching wheelchair rugby, seeing what people in wheelchairs can do and I think back to Ivan and I had some moments of thinking.

"As every parent, you think of all the things they can't do. But actually the Paralympics is about how they are superhuman, about all the things they can do."

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