Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Olympic Torch comes to Harlow!

 You'd have to have been asleep for the past few weeks to have failed to notice that the Olympic Torch Relay has been making its way around the UK - indeed, we saw it briefly as it passed through the Highlands, and it was over in the Western Isles just a few days after we left. Today was the turn of our hometown, Harlow, and it has to be said, the town did it proud!

We were scheduled to be the first stop for the Relay for the day - with it leaving Chelmsford just after 7am, and being planned to come through the town at 8am. As we were walking through from home just after 7am, we were impressed to see how many other folk were doing the same thing...and when we got into the centre there were good crowds gathered and lining the route...

The atmosphere was great - just a few weeks ago I was hearing a lot of folk being quite sniffy, saying they weren't bothered and didn't feel it was anything to do with them - basically the sort of attitude I've often come to expect from people who refuse to show any kind of enthusiasm for anything that doesn't direct affect them. There were a few like that about this morning - the sort of people that a friend of mine refers to as "Mood Hoovers" - they didn't stand a chance this morning though, everywhere you looked there were flags, and t-shirts, and bunting, and big grins of anticipation...!

Our wait for the torch was about to be extended by a short while as news started filtering through that the convoy had been delayed by 30 minutes as a result of an accident ahead of it on the main road from Chelmsford. Thankfully though the weather held, the sun even shone for a while, and the crowds stayed cheerful, and every now and again we had some members of the advance party coming through, handing out goodies....I did wonder why they handed these frisbeys out though - surely they could just have thrown them?!

Finally we started hearing cheers from the other side of the Town Centre - indicating that the torch was on it's way! It was very well managed - rather than there being a mass of people around the person running with it, there were just the 6 Met Police Officers providing security (inlcuding Harlow Rugby Club's Lee Harron - that's him looking miserable on the right in the picture below), a couple of others from the support party, and a chap who I presume from his garb was the preceding torch-bearer. It meant everyone got a good chance to see it and those with cameras got a chance to get some pictures...

How excited does the lady carrying it look?! Understandably too - what a fantastic opportunity to have! This was Jeanne Stacey I believe - read about her HERE (link from the BBC) - a drama teacher from the Town.

Once it had passed us we headed across to the other side of the shopping centre - the route was too short for us to actually see the torch up close anywhere further on (the entire circuit around Harlow took only 10 minutes!) but we were able to see the final runner completing his leg and joining the convoy read for it to move on to it's next stop.

A great morning, well worth getting up before 7am on a Saturday - plenty being done to create an atmosphere - music stages, a steel band, street performers....everyone generally getting into the spirit of the thing. The rain held off - a minor miracle considering the appalling weather we've had so far this year - and everyone who went seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. Well done Harlow!



cheri said...

Oh dear, I am afraid that I am one of those who has been unable to become enthusiastic about the torch. i have managed to miss it in three different locations (not purposely I add but circumstances) although I did not get upset by that. I have met a couple of the torch bearers though and I used to work with a man who was chosen to carry the torch in Warrington and I have to say that each of them thoroughly deserved it. I am more disappointed that the olympic committee have restricted local shops from doing certain things which would have helped the towns even more.
I am due to be in London the weekend of the opening and I am really looking forward to seeing how things unfold there.
Oh, Mood Hoovers............ just pull their plug out I say. ;)

Robyn said...

There's a difference between "not seeing it because it wasn't about at a convenient time" though Cheri, and what we witnessed yesterday morning, which was miseries actually trying to dampen others enthusiasm. A shame people can't just ignore what they don't like, and let others get on with enjoying it! The opening weekend in London will either be great fun, or utter chaos!