Crowds enjoy Morpeth’s moment in Olympic spotlight

SPECTATORS of all ages made their way to Morpeth town centre to see the Olympic torch relay.

Crowds started gathering about an hour before the flame’s scheduled arrival in the town as people picked out the best viewing spots.

Much of Bridge Street was taken up by parties of schoolchildren from across Northumberland, but local residents, and those from further afield, also managed to make it into the throng.

Claire Fram, from Widdrington, said: “It is a once in a lifetime thing and something we will never see again. I doubt the Olympics will ever come to this country again. The weather hasn’t put us off coming here today. We were here from about 9.30am.”

Barbara Clasper had a special reason for braving the wet weather as she was there to support torchbearer David Taylor, who as chef at St Oswald’s Hospice had helped her late daughter Deborah.

“My daughter was in the hospice and David was a big help when she was there so I would like to see him with the torch,” she said.

Steven Lane, 50, of Morpeth, said: “It is a very special event and I’m proud of the torchbearers — I would have loved to have been one myself.”

And 23-year-old David Calder, also of Morpeth, said: “It is a one-off experience. I know one of the torchbearers, Stephen Parsons, and I think it is a privilege to see the torch being carried through Morpeth.”

Ritchie Brown, 20, who is captain of Morpeth Hockey Club, also knows Mr Parsons through sport and was keen to show his support.

“We came down here to watch Stephen. It is a pretty special thing for him and it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see it. The rain didn’t put me off because I’ve been shifting furniture all morning for moving house so it is better than doing that, whatever the weather is like,” he said.

Twelve-year-old Libbie Blake said: “It is an amazing turn-out. The weather has been a bit bad, but we have got our hoods and umbrellas and there is a good spirit in Morpeth. There is a terrific atmosphere and it is the best place to see the relay.”

Morpeth resident Carole Steel said: “The weather isn’t very good, but I knew there would be a good turn-out in Morpeth. We’ve been passing the time by taking the opportunity to socialise. It’s given everyone the chance to become friends and everybody has been talking and looking after each other.”

For 52-year-old George Platt, the relay was the perfect warm-up for attending some of the football of the Olympic Games, and he was delighted to see that former Morpeth Olympian Jim Alder was carrying the torch.

“It is massively exciting,” he said.

“It’s great that Jim Alder is carrying the torch — I’m old enough to remember when he was running. It’s a very special day and it’s a once in a lifetime experience.”

Stuart Hall, 23, from Ashington took time out of working in Morpeth to attend the relay.

He said: “We thought we would just come down and support it. We don’t really mind the weather for a few minutes and we wanted to show our support.”

Morpeth resident Jean Horton, 62, said: “I was determined to come down to see the torch. The rain didn’t put me off because I won’t get another chance.”

Thirteen-year-old Carrie Collins, from Ashington, made her way to the town centre after taking her brother to school. She said: “It is just great to see the torch coming through and I will be watching the Olympics on television.”

William Rittain, 25, of Rothbury, said: “It is a once in a lifetime chance to experience this and see the Olympic torch. It is a proud monument of the Olympic Games and it brings people together whatever. It’s an absolutely great atmosphere despite the weather. If the weather is like this it all adds to the Great British Olympics.”