IT will be a once in a lifetime opportunity, a moment in history that will inspire, that will last in memory, and be talked about for generations.
The Olympic Torch is coming to Haverhill.
The Haverhill Echo and town MP Matthew Hancock fought a campaign to bring the torch to Haverhill – a campaign backed by town sports groups, community organisations, businesses and individuals.
And on Monday (7) we got the news that we had all been hoping for – that our campaign had been successful and that the torch will be coming here on July 7 next year.
“It will be a truly symbolic moment. It is more than just a beautiful sculpture because the Olympic movement that the torch represents is about striving to achieve your goals – so it is fitting that it is coming to Haverhill,” said Mr Hancock.
“I am proud of the campaign that the Haverhill Echo has run with myself and the support that the whole town has shown.
“In the past Haverhill has sometimes been overlooked and I was determined that that would not be the case this time around. And once we met with the London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton last month, I was incredibly confident that we would get the right answer.
“The campaign has played an important role in securing us the torch because it has shown how much this means to the town.
“Unlike Cambridge, which can depend on its history, Haverhill is a town on the up and that is why it is so important that we keep making the case and showing what Haverhill has to offer.
“Whether we would have got the torch without the campaign I don’t know – but what I can says is that the London 2012 team have said on several occasions, that this is one of the most powerful campaigns throughout the country.
“Through this campaign we made it impossible for them to ignore Haverhill and we have got the result that we wanted.”
News of the torch route has also been welcomed by others who backed our campaign.
Caroline Maclean should find out next month if she has a conditional offer to become a torch bearer with final confirmation due in February.
The Haverhill paralympian and wheelchair basketball player said: “It is incredible that we have got the torch. I’m really every so excited.
“I hoped it would come to Haverhill but it is not the biggest town so when they made the announcement I was pleasantly surprised. If I get to carry it here it will be the scariest thing ever.”
Haverhill Town Mayor, Cllr Maureen Byrne, said: “Not only does this recognise the tremendous campaign organised by the Haverhill Echo, with the support of our MP Matthew Hancock, but also the tremendous sporting achievements by some of the town’s residents.
“Too often Haverhill has been left off the map, at last it is gaining the recognition it deserves, as a town where there are real opportunities for achievement, in commerce as well as sport. I know the town will welcome and support the flame as it passes through the town, and we will encourage our residens to participate in activities and events along its route.”
Brian Hawes was celebrating the news both that the torch is coming to Haverhill and that he has been selected as a volunteer working in the Olympic village.
“It is brilliant news for the town and all the people that haven’t been able to get tickets to the events. I’m chuffed to bits,” he said.
And St Edmundsbury Borough Councillor Karen Richardson, who represents Haverhill East said: “It is just marvellous and one, of the most exciting things that has ever happened in our town. This is the reward for all the hard work people have put in to try to get the torch here.”
Haverhill is one of more than 1,000 villages, towns and cities announced by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) to be part of the 8,000 mile 70 day torch relay – 8,000 torch bearers will carry the torch along the way.
Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee said: ‘We are thrilled to confirm that Haverhill will act as a host location for the Olympic Flame, extending an invitation to people in St Edmundsbury to welcome the Olympic Torch Relay during its journey around the UK.
“This is the UK’s moment to shine and I want to encourage people across the borough to start planning how they can be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity and show their support for the inspirational Torchbearers chosen to carry the Olympic Flame as we count down to the start of the Olympic Games.”
St Edmundsbury is already at the starting gate with exciting plans to help schools, local communities and organisations to mark the occasion. To register an interest in taking part in the activities, call 01284 757080.
Council Leader, Cllr John Griffiths MBE, said: “The news that the Olympic torch is coming to Haverhill will delight the people of the borough, who have embraced the Olympic vision wholeheartedly. The street level celebration on Saturday July 7 will add to the excitement, coming so close to the beginning of the Games.”
Richard Howitt MEP said: “Being part of the Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am deeply proud that the young people of Haverhill will now have an opportunity themselves which they will remember all their lives.
“The Olympic flame will be burning brightly in their faces and in their hearts.”
The street by street detail of the route will be confirmed next year.
An interactive map at www.london2012.com/olympictorchrelaymap shows where the Olympic Flame will be carried.
LOCOG has launched a ‘Local Leaders’ initiative, an invitation to people to take the 2012 Games into their community and create their own celebrations next year, for the Olympic Torch Relay and other key moments during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. View www.london2012.com/localleaders for more information.
A ‘Get Set for the Olympic Torch Relay’ education resource, available to all schools registered with Get Set, London 2012’s official education programme has also been launched. The aim is to provide schools with cross-curricular resources aimed at teachers working with 3 to 16 year olds to aid learning around the history of Olympic Torch Relays, the design of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay and the Torch itself.