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VIDEO: Large crowd gathers in King’s Lynn to see start of Olympic torch relay around West Norfolk

13:21 02 June 2012

The start of the 1948 Olympic Torch relay around West Norfolk saw Ray Harding and Paul Evans run from Lynnsport to North Wootton. Picture: Matthew Usher

The start of the 1948 Olympic Torch relay around West Norfolk saw Ray Harding and Paul Evans run from Lynnsport to North Wootton. Picture: Matthew Usher

© Archant Norfolk 2012

Glorious sunshine greeted those who descended on Lynnsport this morning to see the start of a 170-mile Olympic torch relay around West Norfolk

Olympian Paul Evans and Ray Harding, chief executive of West Norfolk council, were cheered as they kick started the 1948 Torch Trail by leaving the King’s Lynn leisure centre at 9.15am.

The pair were sent on their way by West Norfolk mayor Geoffrey Wareham after completing a lap around Lynnsport’s running track with Charlie Pyatt who had won a competition to run with the torch.

Mr Evans and Mr Harding then handed the torch over to EDP reporter David Blackmore and West Norfolk Council cabinet member Elizabeth Nockolds in North Wootton and they carried it to Castle Rising.

The torch is currently making its way to up to Hunstanton and will pass through a total 80 of the area’s towns and villages before it returns to Lynnsport on Tuesday.

They include Docking, North Creake, the Massinghams, Marham, Barton Bendish, Methwold, Feltwell, Southery, Wimbotsham, Nordelph, Upwell, Marshland and the Walpoles.

Mr Evans, who ran the 10,000m final at the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Olympics, said: “I feel very honoured to have been part of this torch relay. I do a lot of work up here in the west and it’s a beautiful part of the world so it was a great honour to run the first leg.

“I think this torch relay will put us in the mood for the Olympics. There are lots of other things happening like the football European Championships and the tennis at Wimbledon and this is the start of all of it. Hopefully it’ll inspire young people to get out there and get fit.”

Mr Harding added: “This event is part of the Let’s Get Active campaign that will be running throughout the year and we’re encouraging people to get involved in whatever they fancy in terms of sports activity.

“It is important to encourage people to get involved in physical activity, whether it’s a bit of running and any other sport - anything that stretches their lungs and heart a bit.”

In total some 170 torchbearers on foot and cycle will have carried the torch over the four-day event, which has been organised by the West Norfolk Sports Council. The torchbearers, who range in age from 14 to 98, were nominated by their local communities.

Among those carrying the torch are 98-year-old Winnifred Smith and 14-year-old Joe Long, both from Old Hunstanton.

Mrs Smith, who has 12 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and three great great grandchildren, will carry the torch in her wheelchair and be assisted by David Shaw. Joe Shaw, a pupil at Smithdon, is the joint-youngest with Jack Easter from West Acre.

Sixteen villages on the route will be holding special sports taster sessions, where people can try a range of sports for free. The taster sessions are being organised by Active Norfolk.

The Stoke Association is also supporting the initiative and is inviting people to take part in sponsored events over the extended holiday weekend.

The events will raise money for the Stroke Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Stroke Association.

For more information about the event and to see what time the torch will be going through your village or town click the link at the top of the page.

Look out for the next edition of London Calling, a free monthly guide to the Games, which will appear in the EDP on Tuesday, June 26.

To see previous Olympic-related stories click on the London Calling logo on the top of this page.

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