School at the heart of Olympic Torch route

TORCH HONOUR: Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Education Councillor Mike Longden (centre) celebrates news of the Olympic Torch lunch stop at Highfields School in Matlock with headteacher Eddie Wilkes (second left), sports co-ordinator Jayne Allen (second right) and school sports ambassadors (from left) Debs Greer (18), Calum Kinsella (18), Abi Akehurst (17) and Emma Erskine (17).
TORCH HONOUR: Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Education Councillor Mike Longden (centre) celebrates news of the Olympic Torch lunch stop at Highfields School in Matlock with headteacher Eddie Wilkes (second left), sports co-ordinator Jayne Allen (second right) and school sports ambassadors (from left) Debs Greer (18), Calum Kinsella (18), Abi Akehurst (17) and Emma Erskine (17).
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Derbyshire is preparing to showcase the Olympic Torch as the route it will take through the county is announced today.

And it has welcomed the news that the iconic flame will take its lunch stop at Highfields School, Matlock on Friday, June 29 where staff and students have been gearing up to this summer’s games since London’s successful bid was announced four years ago.

The school is signed up to the London 2012 ‘Get Set’ education programme, Youth Sports Trust, Voice of Sport Group and BBC World Class Olympic Dream Project which means it plays a key role in youth sports leadership and development.

Derbyshire County Council cabinet member for education Cllr Mike Longden said: “The Olympic Torch visiting Derbyshire is of course great news for the county, but hearing that it will be stopping off at Highfields School is fabulous news for all our schools too.

“The staff and students have been fully behind ‘Get Set’ from the start to inspire young people and get them involved in sport and this summer’s Olympics. The Torch stop is a fantastic reward for their efforts.”

Headteacher Eddie Wilkes said news that the Olympic Torch would be stopping off at the school was ‘brilliant’.

“It’s a real recognition of the leadership work that our students have done to get young people involved in sport and the whole Olympic movement,” he said. “We’re really proud to be involved.”

School sport co-ordinator Jayne Allen has been a driving force behind Highfields getting the torch stop invitation from the East Midlands Olympic Legacy team.

She said: “I think we’ve gone above and beyond what was really expected of schools getting behind this year’s Olympic Games and the torch coming here makes us feel like that work has been rewarded.

“I’m amazed and honoured. I’d like to thank all the students for catching hold of this dream and taking it forward. They’ve been out to other schools in their sports ambassador leadership role to increase participation. They’re always working hard and never let you down.”

Highfields student and sports ambassador Emma Erskine (17), who excels in kickboxing and athletics and is a former Derbyshire County Council Young Achiever, said: “The torch visiting our school is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m really excited. We’re really going to make the most of it.”

Although the school lunch stop is a private event with no public access, residents will be able to line the route as the Olympic Torch Relay passes through Derbyshire on Friday, June 29.

It starts off from Glapwell in north east of the county at 11.30am before travelling through Bolsover, Calow, Chesterfield, Matlock, Darley Dale, Chatsworth, Bakewell, Buxton and Ashbourne. It will leave Ashbourne at 6.10pm and arrive at Darley Park in Derby at 7.15pm ahead of evening celebrations in the city.

Cllr Longden added: “Now the Olympic Torch Relay route has been confirmed we’re looking forward to hearing about what events are being lined up to celebrate its journey as it travels through the county in June.

“We’ll be keeping residents up to date with all the latest information on our website and linking up with borough and district councils to make sure everyone knows what’s going on, where they can see the Torch and how they can get involved in this once in a lifetime opportunity.”

* For more details see this week’s Mercury.