Thousands watch Olympic torch pass through Stamford

Olympic torch relay in Stamford. Jessica Hill
Olympic torch relay in Stamford. Jessica Hill
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THE Olympic torch was greeted by crowds of families as it arrived in Stamford.

Hundreds of people lined Tinwell Road and whistled and cheered when the iconic beacon was lit.

Maurizio Motta, from Milan, Italy, was the first to carry the torch in Stamford.

Just before the torch was lit, he said: “It’s unbelievable to see so many people here.

“I carried the flame in 2006 but this is unexpected. It is fantastic and I feel honoured.”

Six-year-old Nieve Goodcliffe, from Malcolm Sargent Primary School, touched the torch when it arrived off the convoy bus in Tinwell Road.

She said: “It was amazing and really really exciting.

“It was very gold and shiny.”

Nieve’s mum, Laura, 38, from Perth Road, Stamford, said: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. How could you not come out to see it here?

“It was very exciting and I didn’t expect it to be so lively and busy.”

Ian Whitmore, 32, from Tinwell, saw the flame as it made its way along Tinwell Road.

He said: “It’s never going to happen again. It’s such a good event and great for the whole country. And it was a really good show.”

Malcolm Sargent Primary School pupil Charlotte Harris, 11, of Cedar Road, Stamford, was left buzzing after the torch passed her.

She said: “It was amazing to see it. The man carrying it looked really good.

“He must have been nervous but very excited.”

Helen Burney, 47, of Highlands Way, Stamford, said: “I just thought it would be the torch and the carrier but it was a really fun show.

“It’s a great for Stamford and it’s been a really good summer for the town.”

Simon Hales, 22, from Langham, who was nominated to carry the torch after overcoming a severe brain trauma, carried the Olympic flame into Red Lion Square.

He said: “This is absolutely amazing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“It was an amazing reception from the crowd.

“It is a massive honour for me to carry this torch today.”

Watching the torches kiss on the corner of High Street was Stamford mayor Bob Sandall, who shook hands with torch bearer Jessica Hill, 27, from London, before she received the flame from Simon and set off on her leg.

Coun Sandall said: “It’s superb. It was very good for the town. What with the Royal visit last month as well and the Countess of Wessex visiting this morning it has been great.

“It promotes Stamford – the enthusiasm that everyone has put into it is great.

“What you have to look at is all the kids that are out here today. It is something that they will probably never see again. But they will always remember it.”

A large crowd cheered and smashed together their thunder sticks amid the din of bells from All Saints Church in Red Lion Square as the torch passed through.

Among them Jonathan Bishop, 42, of Banks Crescent, who said: “It is good for the town. We are going down to London to see the hockey and athletics and this is our first taste of the Olympics.

“It is nice to come and soak up the atmosphere and good to see everyone out to support it.

Also watching was Linda Campbell, 64, of Essex Road, Stamford. She said: “I think it is brilliant, a very good thing for Stamford.

“We are one of the oldest towns in England and I think we deserve it coming through here.”

Jessica Hill carried the torch along High Street in front of cheering crowds. She passed it to Jo Varley, 53, from Peterborough, who carried on along St Paul’s Street.

Jo is a former international 800m runner and lacrosse player and has been a successful team manager at the Burghley Pony Club.

She was nominated by her daughter Jess, a modern pentathlete who has been touted as a future Olympian. Speaking before her turn to carry the torch, Jo said: “I am ecstatic, really happy. My moment to shine has been amazing.”

Shirley and David Ward, of Horbling, saw the torch in Skegness before it came to Stamford and plan to see it in Bourne tomorrow (Wednesday).

David, 62, said: “It’s good that everyone comes together for things like this. It’s quite amazing, we may never see this again. It’s a piece of history.

“We came to Stamford just to see the torch. I would love to go to London. It has been fantastic so far.”

Yvonne Driver, 58, of Brooke Avenue, Stamford, took her granddaughter Alicia Forsythe to see the relay.

She said: “It was very good and the entertainment before was beautiful. The relay all happened so quickly. I will never see it again in my lifetime.

“I am very interested in the Olympics. I wasn’t able to get any tickets but I’ll be watching on television like everyone else.”

Carrie Freeman, 32, of Maltby Close, Wittering, had a busy day taking her daughter Ivy, six, to see the Countess of Wessex at RAF Wittering in the morning before watching the torch relay in Stamford.

She said: “It’s something we weren’t going to turn down. We waited a couple of hours to see the torch.

“It was really well organised, they helped us get a prime location for the changeover.”

Rachel Green, of Norfolk Square, Stamford, watched the relay with friends. She said: “It was fantastic. It’s brilliant for the town to see the torch come through.”

And St Gilbert’s Primary School pupil Joe Allen, nine, of Easton-on-the-Hill, said: “It was exciting to see the torch. We waited about 40 minutes. I’m looking forward to watching the games, especially the rugby.”