Residents praised for torch relay turnout

MORPETH’S Mayor has spoken of his pride as residents turned out in force for the Olympic Torch Relay.

Despite the rain, hundreds of people lined the streets as five torchbearers carried the flame through the town.

The crowds were delighted when Morpeth Harriers legend Jim Alder was revealed as the fifth carrier on the day. The 1966 Commonwealth Games marathon Gold medallist took the torch down Bridge Street and over the Telford Bridge.

David Taylor started off the leg from the bottom of Whorral Bank just after 10.30am and passed the flame on to Belgian athlete Gerda Andries on Howard Terrace.

Stephen Parsons took it up on Newgate Street and the torch kiss with Mr Alder happened outside Rutherfords. David Lowe did the final leg up to the Mafeking Park roundabout.

Town Mayor Mark Horton, who watched the relay from outside the Town Hall, said: “I’m so pleased that there was a wonderful turnout from the people of Morpeth.

“There’s always a bit of concern when the rain comes down, but it was standing room only on Bridge Street. This event has put Morpeth on the map and I look forward to seeing the coverage of it.

“I was pleased to see Jim Alder carrying the torch after all that he has achieved in athletics as a Morpeth Harrier.”

Northumberland County Council Chairman Jim Smith was also in attendance after watching the flame come through Berwick and Alnwick.

“The people of Northumberland have risen to the occasion over the last two days and the number of people who turned out in Morpeth in the pouring rain was very impressive,” he said.

“The community effort has been brilliant and it’s great that all ages have been involved.

“All this has promoted Northumberland really well and I don’t know how much money we would have had to spend to produce the same effect on tourism, but it would be a large amount as I believe this exposure will increase the amount of visitors coming to the county.”

After the Torch Relay, the councillors attended a special event where Olympic-themed artwork from Morpeth’s nine schools was unveiled. Their designs will go on new planters in the Market Place to support the town’s Northumbria and Britain in Bloom bids.

The pieces included the Olympic rings, carrying the torch to the backdrop of the Union Jack, flags from different countries, drawings of a range of sports and athletes in action, the torch itself, the Olympic mascot and other colourful and original graphics. One design used gold mosaics on a black background.