Olympic torches set to go on display in Bamburgh

YOU wait for an age for an Olympic torch to turn up and then 15 arrive at once - that's the treat in store for a Northumberland village on June 14.

Torch bearers at the 1988 Seoul Olympics
Torch bearers at the 1988 Seoul Olympics

YOU wait for an age for an Olympic torch to turn up and then 15 arrive at once - that's the treat in store for a Northumberland village on June 14.

When the London Olympic torch arrives at Bamburgh around 6pm for a half-hour stay, another 14 original torches will be display in the village.

The private collection, owned by a family in the south of England, date from that used in the 1936 Games in Berlin to the 2008 Beijing torch. It will be the only public viewing of the collection in the UK during the torch relay.

The church in Bamburgh was founded by and dedicated to Saint Aidan, the 7th Century Northumbrian Christian pioneer whose name means “flame”.

As part of Bamburgh’s day-long celebrations leading up to the arrival of the 2012 torch, carried by Ponteland firefighter and former Royal Marine Brian Tinnion, St Aidan’s will host the public viewing of the Torches of Inspiration collection of 14 genuine Olympic torches.

Aidan is usually depicted holding a sconce, or torch, as in his statue on Holy Island and as the Apostle of the English is celebrated as an inspirational light

The Vicar of Bamburgh, the Rev Canon Brian Hurst said: “The Olympic torch represents purity and the endeavour for perfection as well as peace, unity and friendship.

“How fitting it is that these Torches of Inspiration will be displayed in the church of St Aidan who brought the light of peace and unity to the people ancient people of Northumbria, and from here the light of the Christian Gospel was spread throughout the land and indeed into Europe.”

Jude Aldred, chairman of Bamburgh Parish Council, said: “As St Aidan’s name means flame, it is most appropriate that the torches should come to Bamburgh.

“When we heard the 2012 torch was coming we decided to organise a full day for the whole community.”

Each torch is a unique design. The 2012 torch, designed in aluminum alloy has 8,000 small cut out circles, representing the 8,000 inspirational people who will carry it on its journey throughout the UK, passing through 1,000 cities, towns and villages.

The torches will be guarded during the visit by 19 servicemen and women from RAF Boulmer who have volunteered their services. One torch, from the 1996 Centennial Games in Atlanta, will be on show in Bamburgh Castle.

Hebburn-born Brendan Foster, a medallist in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, will be joining in Bamburgh’s celebrations. He said: “This really is something special for the region.”

202 Squadron, based at RAF Boulmer, will be honouring the arrival of the London 2012 torch with a fly-past the village.

Villager Angela Darling, a member of the organising committee, said: “There will be something for everyone to see and do during the whole day as the excitement mounts in the build-up to the arrival of the torch just before 6pm that evening.

“We’ve been working hard to create a special day.”

Village events begin at 11am and include a “celebrities versus locals” tug of war, led by Francis Watson Armstrong, of Bamburgh Castle against a team headed by former England rugby player Fran Cotton and former TV Gladiator Jet.

The village green will also stage a school sports Olympics, with prizes presented by Brendan Foster.


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