Lord Coe welcomes torch to Burghley House

Olympic Torch Relay - Lord Coe is interviewed outside Burghley House'Photo: SM030712-174js
Olympic Torch Relay - Lord Coe is interviewed outside Burghley House'Photo: SM030712-174js

LORD Coe welcomed the Olympic torch as it arrived at Burghley House in Stamford today (Tuesday).

The chairman of the London Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games arrived at the house at 2.45pm and spent time with house director Miranda Rock.

Mrs Rock is the granddaughter of Lord Burghley, who won gold in the hurdles in the Olympics in 1928 and was on the organising committee of the 1948 Olympic Games.

Lord Coe also viewed the exhibition in the house on Lord Burghley and conducted interviews in front of the house and next to Lord Burghley’s Rolls Royce.

Speaking to the Mercury, Lord Coe said: “It’s a lovely place to be and when I got the invitation to be here it was one of the easiest ones to accept.

“Lord Burghley did an exceptional job delivering the 1948 games in times of austerity and what a games it was. He was an extraordinary man and he ran in my own sport for many years. I feel very privileged to be asked to come and stand at his front door today.”

Asked about the torchbearers and the high turnout of people along the torch relay route, Lord Coe said: “I think it’s extraordinary. It doesn’t surprise me at all.

“The real importance of the Olympic flame is celebrating the extraordinary achievements of local people.”

Mrs Rock, who was joined by her mother Lady Victoria Leatham, added: “For Lord Coe to be here has made today even more special and he has been so interested. I found out today that it was my grandfather who presented him with one of his medals so that was nice to hear. He really is a star.

“It is lovely to see the crowds but I am a bit disappointed by the weather.”

Lady Victoria’s brother, the 8th Marquess of Exeter, flew over from America for the event.

The flame was carried into the park at 5.15pm by David Thompson, from Huntingdon. He was watched by hundreds of people as he ran up to the main gates of the house and into the courtyard.

It was received by Sue Probst, 56, of Tixover, who works at the BP garage in Scotgate, Stamford. She was nominated for her work with older people in the community, despite suffering from multiple sclerosis.

As she waited for David to run up to the house, Sue got the opportunity to speak to Lord Coe.

Speaking before she ran with the torch, Sue said: “It is a huge honour to be involved with it.

“I was nervous when I was on the bus and then everyone got off and I was on my own. But it has been an absolutely wonderful day and Burghley House is such a beautiful venue.

“It is fantastic to be carrying the torch in my local area and to see so many people I know enjoying the atmosphere.

“It doesn’t matter what the weathers like - it just matters what the atmosphere is like and it is fantastic.”

Sue’s son Stephen Bull was waiting in the crowds with pupils from Stamford Queen Eleanor School where he teaches PE.

Ahead of her arrival he said: “I can’t wait to see her. I feel very proud.

“We are all really excited. I think it is important for the students to able to see the torch so they can get more engaged with the Olympic games.”

Olympic co-ordinator at the school Kate Moss said the pupils had been preparing for the arrival of the torch with a variety of activities.

She said: “We are all so excited to see it.”

Peterborough Singers entertained the crowds with a rendition of Singing in the Rain and the wet weather didn’t dampen the spirits of those gathered, who put up their umbrellas but continued cheering and waving flags.

The 2nd Wittering Scouts were there waving to the torchbearers and 11-year-old Corah Marshall said: “It was amazing to see the torch.”

Her mother Nicole added: “I know it’s a cliche but it really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”