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From Harry Potter to TeamGB: The Eclectic Life of Nicholas Daines

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Contents

An Accidental Discovery of Talent

It was an accidental discovery that led Nicholas Daines to gymnastics. “My sister went to gymnastics, and she would then come home and teach me everything she was being taught on the upstairs landing and in the garden,” he recalls. “Looking back, she was an amazing coach. She then took me along one day to her club, and after the recreational class finished, I started tumbling and her coaches were amazed by what I could do and quickly facilitated putting me in touch with a boys club.”

nicholas daines black leather jacket

Representing Team GB

Daines’ talent saw him eventually represent Team GB in gymnastics. “Representing your country in any sport is tough, but never more so than in gymnastics,” he reflects. “Initially, I competed for all six pieces in artistic gymnastics, but then specialised in Double Mini Trampoline for British Gymnastics and finally made it into Team GB to compete internationally at the age of 30. So, I did it by sheer persistence and was part of the team for the 2003 World Championships. Representing Great Britain and wearing the tracksuit was a total honour and the pinnacle of my sporting career.”

Transitioning to Hollywood Stunts

With a natural ability to throw himself around with great spatial awareness, Daines transitioned into the entertainment industry as a stuntman. “I was once an extra on TV’s The Bill and there was a stunt being performed on the show that day where a man was jumping backward from a platform attached to a car as if he were being hit as it reversed. I looked at him and thought, well, I can do that, and with a double twist! So, I joined the British Stunt Register, which is the most recognised organisation in the world for supplying stunt performers and coordinators to the film and television industry.”

Working on Harry Potter

One of Daines’ major breaks was working on the Harry Potter movies. “The Harry Potter movies were my next big break into the world of stunts, and I was a part of the stunt quidditch team chasing the quaffle on mechanical broomsticks! It was a dream to be part of. I even got to play a Ravenclaw pupil in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I can almost guarantee I was the oldest student at Hogwarts at the ripe old age of 35!”

harry potter and the deathly hallows

Life as a Stuntman

“Every day as a stuntman on set is different,” Daines explains. “You might be doing anything from jumping off a building to being hit by a car or set on fire. You’re constantly playing make-believe, and I love my job as I get paid to never grow up! Of course, there is also a very serious side to the job. It’s a highly-skilled, highly disciplined environment. You have to have your wits about you at all times and make sure that every aspect of health and safety has been executed before action is called. But I go to work some days, and I’m a cave dwelling creature, or I’m a thug fighting Batman or running away from dinosaurs.”

Living in Hemel Hempstead

During his time working on Harry Potter, Daines resided in Hemel Hempstead. “I was living in Apsley at the time,” he says. “I would love driving through the steep hedgerow side lanes of Flaunden and make my way on all the backroads to the Alford Arms pub in Frithsden on a summer’s afternoon with the roof down (I’ve always owned a convertible). One of my favourite things to do was also to visit the little village of Aldbury, which to me is the epitome of a quintessential English village with the village pond in the middle of it surrounded by cute cottages. The pubs on the green in Chippenham were also top spots for a drink, showing off the area to friends and giving them the real English countryside experience when visiting from abroad.”

Passion for Science, Wildlife, and Wine

Beyond his stunt work, Daines has pursued other passions, including science, wildlife conservation, and wine. “I’ve always been passionate about science and wildlife, studying microbiology at the University of London (Queen Mary), obtaining a First-Class Honours degree,” he says. “However, I knew looking down the end of a microscope for the rest of my life was not an option, but it is wonderful now that my story has come full circle, and now science and nature are a huge part of my life with my presenting work. I love exploring effective ways of getting youngsters involved in conservation, educating them, and getting them to really understand the problems wildlife in this day and age are facing, and giving them the right tools they will need to try and clean up the mess we’ve made.”

nicholas daines

The Grape Press

Daines’ passion for wine led him to create “The Grape Press,” a series where he presents the wine and vineyards of Stellenbosch and Paarl in Cape Town, South Africa, on his YouTube channel. “The entertainment business can try to pigeonhole you, dictate that you have to focus on one area, but I have always fought against the mould. I believe we have the ability to be more than just a one-trick pony, and I hope I never stop adding more strings to my bow.”

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