Posted: 09/07/2012 11:12:22 by Nigel Nixon

SINGING schoolchildren joined thousands of flag-waving revellers as the Olympic Torch’s Cumbrian odyssey reached Ambleside.

Crowds began gathering from mid-afternoon as anticipation mounted ahead of the historic moment.

Greeted by cheers and applause, torch bearer Tom Wright, 15, of St Bees, passed the Olympic flame onto Windermere’s Stephanie Booth as it reached Borrans Park at around 6.20pm.

The beaming 14-year-old Lakes School pupil, nominated by her head teacher, told the Gazette it was the ‘best moment’ of her life.

“I was quite nervous but very excited,” she said.

“Everyone was really friendly and happy.

"It’s been the best experience.”

Sports-mad Stephanie is a keen swimmer and participant of triathlon and cross-country events and will compete alongside her sister in this weekend’s Great North Swim.

Her proud mother Christine said: “I didn’t sleep last night, I was so excited for her.

"I’m just really unbelieveably proud of her.

“The last week has been a little bit overwhelming.

"She was determined to be involved in the Olympics and this could be the closest she gets.”

Spectators Gordon Allatt and Norma Pearson made the trip from Northampton especially to see the torch.

And Mr Allatt was thrilled when he got to touch it.

“I’ll never wash this hand again,” said an emotional Mr Allatt.

“The Olympics is one of those things that brings the country together and makes us feel good.”

Mrs Pearson added: “I think it’s absolutely great and I shall be watching the Games every day while they're on.”

Children from Ambleside, Hawkshead, Langdale and Coniston primary schools performed a song especially-assembled for the occasion as the torch made its way to Waterhead to board the Bowness-bound vessel, the Tern.

It was helped on its way by a flotilla, christened Brathay’s ‘whalers’, as other boats sounded their horns in tribute.

Marj Waddecar, of Ambleside, who was looking on, said: “I was born in the year Britain last held the Olympics so I thought I ought to come down and see the torch this time.

“It’s good we have got the Olympics and let’s just hope there’s a bit of a spin-off for tourism in areas like this.”

Visitor Julianne Harlow, of Brighton, added: “It’s a really big event that we won’t be seeing in this country again and, rightly or wrongly, a lot of money has been invested in it.”

People were invited to write goodwill messages about the Games for inclusion in an eye-catching yellow ‘balloon tree’.

The Kendal Windows on Art project was led by Pam Williamson, who said: “I have worked with older people, schoolchildren and members of the public, asking them to send their messages to welcome the torch from Ambleside to London and the rest of the world.”

The balloons were given to children after the torch passed through and the messages will now go on display at Ambleside Library before featuring in a special opening ceremony at this year’s Ambleside Sports.

The Borrans Park festivities were organised in part by Barry Porter, of Rufty Tufty’s, Ambleside.

Mr Porter said: “I thought it would be a really positive thing for Ambleside - it really profiles the area.

“Anything that builds up Ambleside is great for local businesses and local people. The kids are really enjoying it.”

An Olympic Torch relay celebration, titled On the Night Shift, presented by Kendal Arts International, takes place on The Glebe, Bowness, tonight.

 

 

Tagged with: olympic, torch, ambleside


Posted: 31/01/2012 10:39:56 by Nigel Nixon

A LAKE District boat is to join a thousand-strong fleet sailing in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee procession on the Thames this summer.

One of Windermere’s well-worn wooden tourist vessels has been selected by Royal organisers to take part in the event – the largest flotilla in modern times.

More than two million people are expected to watch from the embankments of the Thames as the seven-mile procession steers through London waters.

Cumbria’s own aptly-named participant, The Queen of the Lake, owned by Windermere Lake Cruises, is currently being repainted and refurbished for the spectacular, on Sunday, June 3.

The flotilla will be led by Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal family aboard a barge called The Spirit of Chartwell.

It will sail under 14 bridges, alongside groups of narrow boats, historic vessels including World War Two ships from the Dunkirk beaches and replica Tudor ships.

Managing director of Windermere Lake Cruises Nigel Wilkinson said: “We are delighted Cumbria will be represented at such a high-profile, patriotic event which will inevitably strike a cord with the whole country as we celebrate her Majesty the Queen and her 60-year reign together.

“We hope to be able to involve the wider Cumbria community in this project and to give some younger Cumbrians a day out that they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Boat building manager Alex Williamson and operations manager Russell Bowden will lead the team south for the patriotic event.

Windermere skipper Ron Walker will captain the boat on the day itself.

The 15-metre tourist boat, built in 1949, will be hoisted out of the water at Ambleside and driven almost 300 miles by lorry before it is launched on the Thames.

It is a reversal of the ship’s initial northern voyage, 60 years ago, when she was transported to Windermere from the Thames-side town of Molsey, where she was built.

It is not the first time the Queen of the Lake has been given a Royal mark of approval. In March 2010 it carried the Prince of Wales when he visited the Lake District.

Tagged with: jubilee, Queen, flotila


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