PEOPLE ranging from 14-98 years old are limbering up to help carry the 1948 Olympic torch on a 170-mile journey around the area this jubilee bank holiday (June 2-5).
The 1948 Torch Trail, organised by the West Norfolk Sports Council to bring communities together to celebrate this momentous year, will begin and end at Lynnsport.
At 9am on Saturday June 2 Borough Mayor, Cllr Geoffrey Wareham will declare the start of the trail. Charlie Pyatt, winner of a competition run by the Fenland Citizen’s sister paper, Lynn News, will run a lap of the athletics track along with former Olympian Paul Evans and chief executive of the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, Ray Harding - the first two torchbearers - before Mr Evans and Mr Harding head out of Lynnsport on the first leg of the trail.
The route, which will pass through 80 villages, begins by heading north to Hunstanton, taking in South Wootton, North Woottton, Castle Rising, Sandringham, Dersigham, Ingoldisthrope, Snettisham, and Heacham along the way, before heading east to Ringstead, Sedgeford, Docking, Stanhoe, Burnham Market, and North Creake then turning to head south, passing through South Creake, Syderstone, East Rudham, West Rudham, Harpley, Little Massingham, Great Massingham, Castle Acre, West Acre, Marham, Boughton, Stoke Ferry, Methwold and Feltwell From this southern point the torch will then make its way back to Lynnsport passing Southery, Fordham, Denver, Wimbotsham, Stowbridge, Barroway Drove, Nordelph, Upwell, Emneth, Marshland St James, Walpole Highway, West Walton, Walpole St Peter, Walpole St Andrew, Walpole Cross Keys, Terrington St Clement, Clenchwarton and West Lynn.
During the trail the torch will be carried on foot and cycle by 170 people. Event organiser Paul Brandon has been delighted by the interest in the event, which has appealed to people of all ages. He said: “The response has been fantastic. Our youngest torchbearers are just 14 and the eldest 98 years old, demonstrating that this is a really special occasion that is significant to people of all generations. I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed so much time and effort to putting together such a fun-packed programme of events. The extended weekend promises to be a great way for communities to mark this momentous occasion.”
Amongst those carrying the torch are 98-year-old Winnifred Smith and 14-year-old Joe Long both from Old Hunstanton.
Mrs Smith, assisted by David Shaw, will, in her wheelchair, carry the torch on the Old Hunstanton leg. Mrs Smith, who has 12 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and three great grand children, has played an active role in the local community since moving to Old Hunstanton in 1933 when she married her husband Reginald Smith. Joe Long, who will also carry the torch in Old Hunstanton, is, along with Jack Easter from West Acre, the youngest torchbearer. Joe, who attends Smithdon High School is according to his parents “sport mad”. He has represented Old Hunstanton and Dersingham at football, Heacham and Dersingham at cricket, competed in the Hunstanton tennis tournament, plays golf, with a handicap of 13 and is a member of the junior elite squad at Searles Golf Club, as well as representing his school in tennis, badminton and table tennis.
The community event will be recorded for the archives by Springboard TV. A production company which operates from the College of West Anglia and is crewed by students. In order to get a real sense of the excitement Teaching Support Assistant Nick Sellers carry the torch from Walpole Cross Keys to Terrington St Clement taking footage as he travels.
Mr Sellers, said: “Me and the rest of the Springboard TV team are really looking forward to covering the event, and it’ll be a great honor and privilege to actually carry the torch itself. From a technical standpoint it’ll be an exciting challenge for the crew and we hope our footage captures our mile in a creative way, offering a unique point of view perspective of the torch bearing.”
Communities along the route are getting set to mark the arrival of the torch. Some villages will be hosting their diamond jubilee celebration to coincide with the torch’s arrival and in Downham Market the torch will take pride of place as it leads the carnival parade from Heygate Mills to the The Howdale on Monday 4 June. At Snettisham, Heacham, Docking, Burnham Market, Great Massingham, Narborough, RAF Marham, Harpley, Stroke Ferry, Methwold, Feltwell, Upwell, West Walton, Walpole St Andrew, Terrington St Clement and Clenchwarton there will be opportunities to try a range of sports from archery to Zumba, free of charge at Active Norfolk’s sports taster roadshows and people will also be invited to raise money for the Stroke Association by taking part in 3-mile sponsored events. There will also be a sponsored ramble at Lynnsport on Saturday June 2, beginning just after the torch has departed on it journey. To enter the sponsored events visit www.stroke.org.uk/1948torchtrail, telephone 01284-650749 or download an entry form from www.letsgetactive.org.uk.
George Burroughs from Stroke Association’s East of England region said, “The events and activities being organised for the 1948 Torch Trail weekend is an excellent way for people of all ages to get active and do something sporty. We are delighted to have been chosen as one of two stroke charities which will benefit from the 3-mile rambles. The money raised by the people taking part in the rambles will help us continue our vital work in supporting people in their life after stroke and allow us to continue to fund essential stroke research.”
The Stroke Association will award a cut glass crystal trophy and certificate to the village which raises the most money for the charity and will be presented by the borough mayor at KL Town Hall July 27.
Amy East, Rural Sports Development Officer with Active Norfolk, said: “One of the aims of the roadshows is to help people set up new regular activity sessions that can be easily accessed. This helps people to make long-term changes to their lifestyles, making it practical and affordable to incorporate physical activity in their routine. The roadshows have proven to be excellent community events for people of all ages and they’ve had a lasting impact. Following the roadshows new clubs have been established, and membership of existing clubs has increased.”
The event will conclude with a celebration at Lynnsport. The mayor will present torchbearers with specially commissioned medals at 4.15 pm.
A special reception will be held from 3.30pm – 7.30pm. There will be a party atmosphere with performances by band the Delta Pilots, the Allison Street Dance Crew and the West Norfolk Chinese Association. Tickets, costing £5, can be purchased from Pat Duhig (01553-828651). Hog roast included in the ticket price.
Ahead of the trail, on Friday 1 June, a special 1948 Torch Trail Dinner is being held at the Winch Restaurant. Former Olympic hockey star Kath Johnson will be the guest speaker. Tickets cost £25 and include a three course meal. To book call 01485 601101. All money raised will be donated to the Stroke Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The event is part of the Let’s Get Active 2012 campaign - a year-long campaign highlighting sports and activities in West Norfolk in Olympic year and has enjoyed support from campaign partners as well as local businesses Hunter’s Land Rover, VW King’s Lynn, Coastal Campers, and Priestley Removals. Norfolk County Council and the Norfolk Community Foundation have also provided funding.
To find out more about the 1948 Torch Trail or other events taking place in West Norfolk in Olympic year please visit: www.letgetsactive.org.uk.
Please note that this event is not associated with the London 2012 Official Torch Relay due to pass through Norfolk on July 4. For more information please see the London 2012 website.