Children hail ‘once in a lifetime’ Olympic torch relay

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Thousands of schoolchildren lined the streets of Morpeth today to welcome the Northumberland Olympic Torch Relay.

Despite torrential rain, there were flags galore in Bridge Street as the youngsters shouted and waved to show their support.

Chantry Middle School, which took all its pupils to the event, had a prime spot in the Market Place.

Pupil Stephanie Cartledge, aged nine, said: “It is really exciting. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the torch relay.”

Classmate Tieran Howard, also nine, added: “I think we should have had better weather, but it’s really good. I’m very excited.”

And ten-year-old Daniel Dickson from the school was looking forward to seeing a family friend, former Commonwealth Games Gold medallist and Olympian Jim Alder, running the relay.

“I know Jim Alder so I would really like to see him with the torch. I think it’s really good, it’s nice to be here. The weather is terrible, but I don’t mind,” he said.

Pupils from Newminster Middle School also made their way to the Market Place.

Eleven-year-old Alex Leathard said: “This is really good because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it is definitely a day to remember.”

His pal Niall Hegarty, also 11, said: “I think it is really good. It’s a shame how the weather has been, but like Alex said, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Some people don’t even see this in their whole life so it is really special.”

Tritlington First School pupil Aidan Jones, aged five, said: “I think it’s exciting. It’s raining, but it doesn’t matter. It’s better than being in school.”

Like most of the crowd, Morpeth Abbeyfields First School pupils were less than impressed by the rain, but it didn’t dampen their spirits.

Seven-year-old Joseph Cromar said: “It’s good to see the relay, but I don’t like the weather. We’ve been learning about the torch at school and where it has come from.”

Christopher Johnstone, aged six, said: “I think the day is brilliant. It’s really exciting.”

And Kiera Cowan, seven, said: “It is really good to see the torch. It’s really, really raining, but it’s good still.”

Cambo First School pupil Lucas Jones, aged nine, said: “It’s very exciting, I can’t wait to see the Olympic torch coming by. I have a flag to wave.”

Before the relay began, there was entertainment by Morpeth Pipe Band and a unicyclist, while youngsters were thrilled to see police motorbike riders driving past, beeping their horns, flashing their lights, waving and high-fiving as a warm up to the arrival of the sponsors’ vehicles from Coca-Cola, Samsung and Lloyds TSB.

Twelve-year-old Poppy Buck, from Rothbury, said: “I think it is really good. It’s a once in a lifetime thing that we get to watch. The weather isn’t very good, but I’m sure everyone is still enjoying it.”

Morpeth King Edward VI School student Emily Nichol, 13, said: “I think it is amazing. It’s a once in a lifetime thing and it just seems overwhelming.”

Her friend Rachel Chambers, 14, added: “I think it is a great experience and it’s good that Morpeth gets to see the torch.”

St Robert’s First School pupils were well equipped for the weather, with matching red suits and hats for the little ones, while older children sheltered under umbrellas.

Eight-year-old Harry Thompson, from the school, said: “It’s a shame about the weather, but it’s not going to bother us.”

And nine-year-old Michael Laux said: “Apart from the weather, it is all good and the atmosphere is absolutely brilliant. The pipe band helps because some people could have been bored standing waiting for the torch to come, but it has been brilliant.”

Ashleigh Hunter, 18, from Nunnykirk School, said: “I think it is really good. We all turned out even though it is raining and the weather hasn’t spoilt it for anyone. I love the Olympics and I think the torch relay is really good because it gives everyone the chance to be a part of it and get in the spirit.”

Longhorsley First School pupil Mia Newcombe, aged nine, said: “It is the first time I am going to see the Olympic torch. We have been learning about it in school. I think it makes the Olympics more exciting being able to see the torch.”

Hannah Davis, also nine, said: “I think it’s interesting to see the torch. My family think I’m lucky to come and see it and I will be waving my flag.”

Ponteland Middle School pupils were given a spot outside Sanderson Arcade, just the place to see Jim Alder receive the flame.

Sara Suleman, aged ten, said: “It is fantastic. The whole thing builds excitement.”

Evie Gallagher, also ten, said: “I’ve never seen the Olympics before, but I’ve been learning about them in school and it has been fun today.”

And ten-year-old Katie Crosier added: “It’s been amazing.”

After the torch had passed, Newminster Middle pupil Josh Mole said: “It was exciting. The best bit was the Coca-Cola van. I didn’t expect so many people to be here, but I got a good view.”

And ten-year-old Joshua Straughan said: “I loved it.”

The children were whisked away to a warm, dry classroom immediately after the event.