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Friday, 01 August 2014

Sharing Olympic Torch experience was a joy

IT seems inevitable that 2012 will always be remembered as the year Great Britain hosted the greatest Olympics of all time.

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HONOUR: Olympic torchbearer, Maggie Harrison, shows her support for the Race For Life event at Cartmel Racecourse as ambassador for Cancer Research UK in Barrow HARRY ATKINSON REF: 50035574B001

Five-ringed fever swept the country in the months leading up to the opening ceremony on July 27 when London took centre stage.

But on June 21 it was South Cumbria’s turn to shine when the Olympic torch relay wound its way through the district to rapturous fanfare.

Torrential rain failed to dampen the spirits of the tens of thousands of people who turned out to catch a glimpse of the torch as it passed through Grasmere, Ambleside and Bowness.

Nearly two dozen locals were selected as torchbearers in recognition of their various charitable contributions to the community.

Six months on, torchbearer Maggie Harrison, of Greengate Street, Barrow, still vividly remembers the day and describes it as one of the highlights of her life.

The 51-year-old, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2006, was nominated by Cancer Research UK and carried the flame through Grasmere.

“I went off like a rocket and my husband John, who is a fell runner, could hardly keep up with me to take photographs,” she said.

“He actually told me to slow down, but I was on such a buzz that there was no way I was going to slow down.”

The mother-of-one said the best thing about being in the relay was that she was able to share the experience with her nearest and dearest.

“I think I was the luckiest person on the day because I had a quiet run in a very isolated country lane without very many houses on it, but that did mean that all the people there were there for me,” she said.

“All of my friends and relatives and acquaintances had come up from Barrow and Broughton and all over the place to line the route and I could see them all.

“Some of the people that I met on the day were a bit disappointed that their friends were in the middle of the crowded villages and got lost in the crowd, so they couldn’t actually see them.”

The unforgettable day was topped off with an equally memorable night as the Lake District celebrated the once-in-a-lifetime occasion with a spectacular open-air concert at Bowness.

The stunning mountainous backdrop provided a perfect setting for an extravagant display of drumming, dance and fireworks.

While the Team GB would go on to provide the country with countless highlights over the two weeks of competition, this was the day that will stay in the minds of many South Cumbrians for years to come.

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