Olympic celebrations as torch route is announced

Olympic torch celebration at the Heights of Abraham
Olympic torch celebration at the Heights of Abraham

CELEBRATIONS of Olympic proportions will be heading for the region after it was announced the torch will pass through prior to next summer’s games.

Pupils from Matlock Bath Holy Trinity Primary were joined local sports star, Emma Erskine, and community leaders at the foot of the Heights of Abraham for the special announcement.

During its 70-day journey across Britain next year, it was confirmed the torch will pass through the Derbyshire Dales on June 29, heading through Matlock, Darley Dale and Bakewell.

Although specific details of the route are yet to be decided, an emphasis on different forms of transport means the torch will be transported by one of the cable cars at the Heights of Abraham in Matlock Bath.

Andrew Pugh, managing director of the popular attraction, was delighted with the decision.

He said: “Everyone at the Heights of Abraham is thrilled and honoured to learn that we will welcome the Olympic Torch in 2012.

“During it’s journey from Greece to the Olympic city of London, the iconic cable cars will transport the torch to the summit of the Heights, creating an Olympic moment for Derbyshire’s oldest tourist attraction and everyone throughout the Derwent Valley.”

Holy Trinity Primary brought along one pupil from each of their six classes, after being invited by Derbyshire Dales District Council to the celebrations.

Teaching assistant Leisha Martin said: “We chose the ones who we know would represent us well. They just love being involved and have been very excited about it.”

Kickboxing star Emma Erskine, who last month was named Derbyshire Dales Junior Sportswoman of the Year, held aloft a replica of the iconic torch during Monday’s celebration.

The 16-year-old from Highfields School, along with her PE teacher, Jayne Allen, have both been nominated to carry the real torch when it reaches the Derbyshire Dales.

They are two of just 8,000 runners put forward to shoulder the prestigious responsibility when it arrives at Lands End on May 19.

The carefully-planned route, which will climax at the Olympic Stadium in East London for the opening ceremony of the games, has been organised so that 95 per cent of the population will be within one hour or less of travelling distance to witness the flame being carried.

Chairman of the District of the Derbyshire Dales, Cllr Judith Twigg, who was also in attendance on Monday, said: “We are delighted for the people of the Derbyshire Dales, because the route through court area ensures local people will get a superb opportunity to cheer the Olympic torch on its way to London.”

Derbyshire County Council Leader Andrew Lewer added: “This is really exciting news- the spotlight will be firmly on Derbyshire in the build up to the Olympics next summer.

“The torch relay through the county will be a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate our strong community spirit and to show the world what Derbyshire has to offer.”

David James, chief executive of Visit Peak District & Derbyshire felt it could also boost both local trade and tourism in the area.

He said: “It’s the ideal chance for both local people and visitors to immerse themselves in the fun and excitement during the build-up to next year’s games- and local tourism businesses and attractions have the potential to capitalise by offering special deals and promotions to bring people into the area to join in the celebrations.”

He said the tourist organisation was busy planning ways to maximise the opportunity.