Monday, 9 July 2012

Olympic Torch Relay in Cambridgeshire

This last weekend was very much a working weekend for me. Don't feel sorry for me though, I had a great time. Here is a taster of what I was up to (and only some!!).

Saturday I traveled over to Parker's Piece in Cambridge to have a look at the events going on as part of the Big Weekend (which obviously included the Torch Relay).  I arrived early to make sure I got a chance to walk round the many stalls that were there before I headed over to Anglia Ruskin University for a function hosted by them to celebrate the torch relay.  I had to say a few words at the event which gave me an opportunity to express my gratitude to the staff at Shire Hall who worked to make the Torch Relay a success - as well as expressing my admiration for the torch bearers and raising the importance of creating an Olympics legacy in Cambridgeshire (for which we already have plans).

I then went back to Parker's Piece and joined the crowd to watch ex-Olympic athlete Iwan Thomas  light the Olympic cauldron to celebrate the overnight stop. It was a fantastic event which an estimated 40,000 people attended (more than expected).

Sunday morning I had the privilege of attending the lighting of the Torch at Trinity College at the start of the day.  It meant a very early start so we could get there for 5.45, but it was well worth it, not least because I was able to take Angela, along.  She puts up with alot as the spouse of a Councillor and helps me no end, so it is nice to take her to something a bit special like this - and it was a special event, watching a recreation of the famous courtyard run that is featured in the film Chariots of Fire before the flame and the 2nd torch bearer of the day headed out to the River to be transported on a punt.

The Olympic Flame event in Cambridgeshire, including its trip through St Ives and Huntingdon, involved a huge amount of organisation from groups inside and outside the council.  So I want to publicly thank a few:  Cambridgeshire Volunteering (who will be part of one of our Olympic Legacy projects on volunteering for events), Living Sport (who also do a huge amount to promote sport around the County) and Cambridgeshire Police for making sure our events were safe and, of course, the partner Councils who worked with the County Council.

The media also deserve some thanks for their support.  I did a huge number of interviews in the weeks leading up to the Torch Relay and quite a few over last weekend too - it was great to see them so engaged and positive.  In particular, BBC Cambridgeshire deserve recognition for outstanding live broadcasting over the weekend, accurately capturing the positive atmosphere.

One of the criticisms I have had is because certain places in the County were not included in the torch route. Whilst that is shame, the decisions about the route were made by LOCOG and were not within the remit of the County Council whatsoever; the only role we played was in putting together our visions for the overnight stops. And, in support of LOCOG, designing and putting together a torch relay route was a task that was never going to please everyone - and actually overall, they have done a great job of it.

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