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: 15/04/2011 16:25:53 by Anne-Marie O'Neill

TWO thirds of the red kites released in Grizedale Forest last summer have survived the harsh winter.

Wildlife rangers believe that around 20 of the 30 birds released in the Forestry Commission’s three-year re-introduction programme made it through the winter and are still in Cumbria, or nearby counties. Between five and eight of the birds are believed to be living around Grizedale and the Rusland Valley, with another three to five inhabiting the Kirkby Moor area near Ulverston.

Four more Grizedale red kites have been spotted by RSPB experts at feeding stations in Dumfries and Galloway – the furthest known movement is by the bird tagged as number four, which has flown 120km north west into Scotland.

“The birds are doing pretty much exactly as we expected, which is very encouraging,” said Iain Yoxall, Forestry Commission wildlife ranger. “We are more confident that these birds will make it to adults now they have made it through a harsh winter. Sadly we lost a few birds but that is natural and why we have to release the numbers that we did.”

The 30 red kites released from a secret location in Grizedale Forest in August last year had coloured tags on each wing. An orange tag on their left wing shows they are from Grizedale, and blue tags on their right wings indicate that they were released in 2010. Some birds were also fitted with radio transmitters to help with monitoring.

Mr Yoxall, who has been following the birds’ movements around Cumbria, said the help he has received from the public had been invaluable. “I have been radio tracking the birds but sightings from members of the public have been a fantastic help and greatly appreciated. This has been very important because it helps us find the birds and backs up our radio tracking results to give us a more robust picture of their movements. We hope that the public will continue letting us know when and where they make sightings of the red kites.”

This year’s birds will hatch in May and are likely to be released into Grizedale Forest in August. The red kites being introduced into Grizedale are the product of a reintroduction programme that took place in Northamptonshire in the 1980s.

Red kites were almost eradicated from the UK following changes in farming practices and human persecution between the 16th and 19th centuries. But they managed to cling on in Wales, and their numbers recovered slowly thanks to the actions of local conservationists



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