DELIGHTED community leaders have spoken of their pride after news that the iconic Olympic Flame will pass through several north Northumberland towns and villages.
Amble, Alnwick, Warkworth, Bamburgh, Hipsburn and Berwick will all welcome the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, giving residents a chance to embrace ‘a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’.
The Northumberland route, which was announced by Locog (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) on Monday, has been picked to bring the flame as close to as many people as possible. On Thursday, June 14 – day 27 of the relay – the famous flame will re-enter England from Scotland via Berwick and travel down to Bamburgh and then move to Alnwick where it will make an overnight stop in the town.
Coun Pat Scott, Northumberland county councillor for Bamburgh, described the news as ‘a feather in our cap’.
“I am absolutely delighted that Bamburgh has been chosen,” she said. “What a spectacular setting for it as well. It will be a wonderful celebration for Bamburgh and the surrounding area. It will draw in all the coastal villages.”
Bamburgh Parish Council chairman Jude Aldred added that it was a ‘big surprise’ for Bamburgh to be chosen but added ‘the community is very happy about it’ and said there was a sense of pride.
After the overnight stop in Alnwick, the torch will continue its journey on Friday, June 15, where it will head to Hipsburn.
Dot Charlton, head-teacher at Hipsburn First School, said that the school had already planned to do a project about the Olympics with all pupils but having the torch pass through the village was ‘the icing on the cake’.
“I think it will be a lot of fun to be involved with,” she said. “It brings it all to light and makes the whole thing much more accessible.”
After visiting Hipsburn, it will move on to Warkworth and Amble before making its way through the county and on to Newcastle for the next overnight stop.
Warkworth Parish Council chairman Stuart Elliott, said: “I am sure many people will be delighted that it is coming through, particularly the children.”
Coun Jeff Watson, Northumberland county councillor for Amble West with Warkworth, said: “The Olympic Torch coming to Warkworth and Amble is a wonderful thing. It will create a positive link to the Olympics which seems to many to be an event which is far removed from our neighbourhood.”
Coun Robert Arckless, Northumberland county councillor for Amble, added: “I am genuinely delighted. It is such a rare event and I am proud that we will play a small part in all this.”
Amble Mayor Coun Leslie Bilboe was also pleased that the torch will pass through the town.
“It is great news,” he said. “It really does put Amble on the map. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It is something we need to grasp with both hands.
“We need to make the most of it and do what we can and enjoy it and take pleasure from it.”
The Olympic Torch Relay will pass through a total of 17 Northumberland locations, including Morpeth and Ashington.
The chosen communities will act as host locations, but will be inviting along their surrounding parishes to welcome the Olympic Flame, share the excitement of the relay and celebrate the achievements of the torchbearers.
Northumberland County Council has been working with Locog to co-ordinate the torch route through the county and a special task force has been set up to ensure that local communities and economy gain maximum benefit from the Olympic Games.
The relay will end on July 27, 2012, when the flame arrives at the Olympic Stadium for the lighting of the cauldron to signify the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Full details of the relay, the times and street maps, will be announced nearer the time, inviting people from across the region to welcome the Olympic Flame to these locations.
To find where the Olympic Torch will be carried near to you, log on to www.london2012.com/olympictorchrelaymap