Out in force to witness history

Out in force to witness history

Raymond Blanc leaps with the flame on St Martin’s Street, where crowds lined the pavements

Margaret Brown, 71, with granddaughter Ellie, seven, as she waits for the handover outside the Guildhall in Abingdon Picture: OX52914 Ric Mellis

Sue James Picture: OX52893

Suzanne Dando and Aron Steele Picture: Steve Wheeler OX52893

First published in Olympic Torch Route

SOME of the biggest crowds in living memory turned out in Wallingford and Abingdon to give a warm welcome to the Olympic torch.

The torch was greeted in Abingdon early yesterday by about 15,000 people lining the streets eager to catch a glimpse of the historic flame.

The relay arrived in the town at about 7.40am as the bells of St Nicolas Church rang out and Abbey Brass Band kept the crowds entertained.

Deaf cancer survivor Margaret Brown, 71, was cheered and followed by crowds as she carried the torch in the final leg in Bridge Street.

Former Olympic gymnast Suzanne Dando handed the torch to Aron Steele, from Didcot, who was cheered on by classmates in Oxford Road.

The 12-year-old, of Fitzwaryn Special School in Wantage, said: “I saw loads of people that I knew and especially people from my school. I was very pleased to be part of the Olympics.”

Sue James, 46, from Carterton, was nominated to carry the torch down Oxford Road after volunteering for the Save the Children charity for more than 30 years.

She said: “I feel really honoured to be part of it. It was great. I cried the whole way. I couldn’t believe the crowds of people. It was lovely.”

Chris Harris, Larkmead School headteacher, said hundreds of schools pupils came out to see the relay come through Oxford Road.

He said: “It was an excitement. It is a moment in history and they won’t get that opportunity again in their lifetime.”

Meanwhile council officials estimated up to 10,000 people gathered in Wallingford town centre to wave on the Olympic Flame after it arrived shortly before 8.30am.

Among the torchbearers in Wallingford were celebrity chef Raymond Blanc and Private Patrick Burns, 25, from Bicester, of 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment.

Mr Blanc said: “It is raining but everyone is happy, the torch brings people together.”

After carrying the flame, Private Burns, who lost his right leg below the knee in January last year when he stepped on a bomb in Afghanistan, said: “This was a fantastic moment for me and I felt absolutely fine carrying the torch.”

As the torch relay arrived in the town centre, a Puma helicopter from RAF Benson flew overhead. The torch left Crowmarsh shortly before 9am to be taken by bus along the A4130 to Nettlebed and Henley.

Other torch bearers in Wallingford and Crowmarsh were Dale Kamarata, David Earle, William Anderson, Christian Bravo, Sarah Rose and Fiona Grist.

Comments (3)

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1:06pm Wed 11 Jul 12

cubist says...

great to see the torch, well organised and my daughter loved it, hope it encouraged people to participate in sports in the future. getting people out exercising would be great
great to see the torch, well organised and my daughter loved it, hope it encouraged people to participate in sports in the future. getting people out exercising would be great cubist
  • Score: 1

5:44pm Mon 16 Jul 12

Dave Earle says...

I was lucky enough to be one of the torchbearers in Wallingford on Tuesday and just want to say how fantastic the day was. It started at 6.40 for me at Wallington School when a young lad called Freddie Johnson had his photo taken with me with 'his' home made Olympic torch. I then met the other torchbearers including Raymond Blanc who was a very funny and down to earth man. The run/stroll was unbelievable, the crowds were fantastic and the people of Wallingford made me feel like a local. It took an hour and a half to enter the doors of Costa Coffee due to the number of people wanting photo's, I have never been given so many babies to hold and have my photo taken with. I felt like a celebrity all day long. A local photographer asked me if he could take some pictures of me and my girlfriend at his studio and gave us prints and a cd of the day a few hours later. When we finally got into Costa Coffee the manager gave me and all my family drinks. What a lovely place Wallingford is, I will be visiting again very soon.
I was lucky enough to be one of the torchbearers in Wallingford on Tuesday and just want to say how fantastic the day was. It started at 6.40 for me at Wallington School when a young lad called Freddie Johnson had his photo taken with me with 'his' home made Olympic torch. I then met the other torchbearers including Raymond Blanc who was a very funny and down to earth man. The run/stroll was unbelievable, the crowds were fantastic and the people of Wallingford made me feel like a local. It took an hour and a half to enter the doors of Costa Coffee due to the number of people wanting photo's, I have never been given so many babies to hold and have my photo taken with. I felt like a celebrity all day long. A local photographer asked me if he could take some pictures of me and my girlfriend at his studio and gave us prints and a cd of the day a few hours later. When we finally got into Costa Coffee the manager gave me and all my family drinks. What a lovely place Wallingford is, I will be visiting again very soon. Dave Earle
  • Score: 0

9:01pm Mon 16 Jul 12

Dave Earle says...

Sorry I should have wrote Wallingford school
Sorry I should have wrote Wallingford school Dave Earle
  • Score: 0

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