Our moment to bask in glow of Olympic flame

DETAILS have now been released of Morpeth’s moment in the Olympic spotlight.

The London 2012 Organising Committee has announced the detailed route of the Torch Relay, which will journey from the Scottish Borders through Northumberland over three days from Thursday, June 14.

And the iconic flame is scheduled to come to Morpeth on Friday, June 15.

The Torch will be accompanied by a 33 vehicle convoy, including an advance party of sponsors’ vehicles from Coca Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung, which will proclaim its arrival with the distribution of keepsake giveaways and announcements of the Torchbearers.

The flame itself will follow five or 10 minutes behind, protected by officers from the Metropolitan Police.

It will arrive at Whorral Bank in a closed vehicle at 10.34am when it will be collected by a Torchbearer and taken along Howard Road and Copper Chare to Newgate Street.

It will then progress down the street towards Morpeth Town Hall, turning onto Bridge Street and making its way to Telford Bridge.

As it passes Castle Square and Carlisle Park pupils from Morpeth First School are expected to join the celebrations.

The procession will end at Mafeking Park roundabout at 10.48am.

Special lamppost banners, bearing the Northumberland Torch Relay logo, will be erected about three weeks before the Torch’s arrival to show its route, and a rolling roadblock will be in place on the day of the event.

Northumberland County Council Cultural Development Manager Nigel Walsh, who is leading the local Olympic programme, said: “We have four key aims.

“The Torch Relay route will show the world our distinctive assets. It will take in some of our most beautiful iconic landmarks, but it will also tell stories about communities.

“We hope it will increase and sustain participation in sport and culture and we hope to encourage young people to gain skills for life.

“We are also looking to raise the profile of the county and for our holiday guide this year the theme is based around the Olympics.”

The Torch will enter Northumberland from the Border village of Foulden and travel on for processions in Berwick and Bamburgh, before moving on for an overnight stay in Alnwick, where there will be an evening celebration.

A high profile Torchbearer is expected to carry it onto the stage, kicking off a two-hour show, featuring five, as yet unannounced, acts and video presentations.

About 10,000 tickets will be available for the event, which will be provided free through online applications on a first-come, first-served basis. Details of how to apply will be announced in April, with tickets available in May, and those who do not have Internet access at home will be able to apply via libraries and council contact centres.

On Day 2 of the county’s relay, the Torch will leave Alnwick at about 7.30am after a Northumberland Big Breakfast.

It will travel through Hipsburn, Warkworth, Amble, Ashington, Newbiggin By The Sea, Stakeford, Guide Post, Morpeth, Hartford, Bedlington and Blyth.

The final day will take in Prudhoe, Stocksfield, Hexham and Riding Mill.

Organisers are keen for as many communities as possible to take part in the event and celebrations are planned across the county.

Project Manager Zoe Bottrell, of Culture Creative, said: “We should feel extremely proud as a county of the amount of contact we have with the Torch – three days. We should feel proud that we can take the Torch to many rural communities.

“It is here for one of the longest periods of time of any county in the country.

“The majority of communities are planning celebrations and we are planning to work with the schools on-route and off-route. For schools off-route we will make provision for them to come to an on-route area and for them to have a space alongside the route in the most safe and appropriate manner.

“We are also looking to work with them to get them involved in the Northumberland evening celebration.”

Twelve Northumberland businesses have won contracts connected to the Games.

The Northumberland Torch Relay will pass through 18 communities in the county, covering around 136 miles, with torchbearers running about 300metres each.

County Executive Member of Tourism, Leisure and Culture Neil Bradbury said: “This announcement really brings the route to life and I am delighted that the Torch will be coming into contact with so many of our communities.

“The Torch Relay will be an exciting and memorable spectacle for all our residents, whatever their age, and I am sure our residents will give then torch and the Torchbearers an especially warm Northumbrian welcome.”

The Torch will complete an 8,000 mile journey around the UK before arriving at the Olympic Stadium on July 27.

Chairman of LOCOG Sebastian Coe said: “The flame symbolises the Olympic spirit and its journey around the UK will bring the excitement of the Games to our streets.

“Now the people know the route the Olympic flame will be carried along and the Torchbearers for their community they can start planning how they might celebrate and make it Northumberland’s moment to shine.”

For more information, visit northumberlandin2012.northumberland.gov.uk