Council chief "overwhelmed" by torch occasion
- Published 01/06/12 9:00 am
THE leader of Warrington Borough Council today thanked the estimated 35,000 people who lined the town's streets to welcome the Olympic Flame.
Cllr Terry O'Neill said he had been overwhelmed by the show of local support and described it as a day that the town could be incredibly proud of.
He said: "It was our turn to be part of an historic occasion and I'd like to thank all the local residents, workers and schools who turned out in their thousands to line the route and cheer on the inspirational Torchbearers carrying the flame through our town.
"It is fitting that the torch has visited Orford Park as it is nationally a recognised Olympic legacy facility that will benefit a new generation of local sporting heroes for many years to come."
Just before the Torch arrived at Orford Park, 500 school children from more than 20 Warrington schools put on a spectacular 30-minute dance performance.
This huge collaborative piece was the grand finale of the Malaga Comenius Regio Project, which has been funded over the last three years by the British Council and had an Olympic theme.
A delegation from Malaga was at Orford Park to see the performance.
The Mayor, Cllr Steve Wright was with Cllr O'Neill at Orford Park to give a warm welcome to the Torch.
Warrington did not lay on good weather for the Olympic Torch - but it laid on just about everything else.
Thousands of cheering people lined the town's streets to welcome the torch convoy as it arrived along Liverpool Road from Widnes.
Warrington Male Voice choir sang at Market Gate, there were "Giant Queens" standing in line outside thee Town Hall and a dance performance involving 500 school children at Orford Jubilee Park.
Other children took part in a "mini-Olympics" in Bank Park.
But it was drizzling when the first torchbearer arrived and it continued to rain throughout most of the time the torchbearers were in town..
Umbrellas were the order of the day - their varying colours helping to brighten the streets - and the members of the Male Voice Choir wore anoraks over their distinctive blue uniforms to keep off the rain.
The flame first changed hands in Warrington by the famous Golden Gates and again at Market Gate.
Celebrity torchbearer Oscar Schmidt - the former Brazilian basketball player - bore the flame from the Golden Gates and along Sankey Street, holding it on high for the crowds ling the street and others hanging out of first floor windows.
Altogether, 12 torchbearers were involved in the run through the town.
From Market Gate, the procession went down Horsemarket Street and along Winwick Street and Winwick Road out to Orford Jubilee Park.
From there it was on to the BT offices at Europa Boulevard and then the procession went on, out of the borough, heading for Lowton, Wigan and Bolton.
Hundreds of local people managed to lay a hand on one of the torches - and more than a few managed to hug a torchbearer!
Only three roads were closed - Sankey Street, Winwick Street and Jubilee Way, but police operated a rolling closure ahead of the procession.
There were no reports of any problems.
By mid-aftrernoon, streets were open as usual.
Many shops closed as the procession went by, but for others - off the main route - it was business as usual.
Runners who carried the torch in the Warrington area were St Peter’s Primary School head teacher Helen Lea, Jason El-kaleh, a volunteer with the Warrington Wolves charitable foundation, Steve Deakin MBE, a 51-year-old transplant games champion from Warrington and Emily Woodward, aged 12, of Birchwood High School.Other torch bearers in Warrington were Tina Bye, from Brighton, Brian Norris, from Manchester, John Smith, from Rainhill and Sue Stout, from Liverpool.
Pictures: The Olympic flames changes hands at Market Gate; onlookers get a close-up of a torch; Giant Queens greet the Flame; left, Oscar Schmidt holds the torch high, and, below, Singing in the Rain...Warrington Male Voice Choir.