The Olympic Torch is a superb chance to show off the best of the North East and will celebrate the role that the region is playing in the Olympic Games, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said today.
Jeremy Hunt said:
“The Olympic Torch Relay is an incredible opportunity to celebrate everything that is great about the North East, and show off the area to a global audience.
“The North East has played a vital role in our preparations for the Games – from hosting the football at St James’ Park and providing training camps for visiting athletes, to providing roof shutters for the Olympic Stadium and paint for the Aquatics Centre. London 2012 is set to leave a lasting economic legacy for the whole region, with 112 North East businesses winning Games-related contracts worth more than £100 million pounds.”
The Torch begins its journey through the North East in Berwick-on-Tweed on 14 June and will leave the region on 18 June, with evening celebrations to mark its arrival in Alnwick, Newcastle, Durham and Middlesbrough. The route will visit 62 villages, towns and cities including several iconic landmarks, such as the Angel of the North, Hadrian’s Wall and the Stadium of Light, whilst also travelling by zip wire from the Tyne Bridge.
Watching the relay will be local resident and ‘Fan in a Van’ Rachel Kershaw. Rachel was selected as England’s Biggest Fan by the national tourism board, VisitEngland and is on a 10-week trip following the Torch around the country in a camper van called Rosie. Her next stop is Rachel’s home town, Newcastle.
“I’m so proud to call Newcastle my home and love showing off the area to friends and family when they come and visit. Now having the torch here will give me the opportunity to show everyone how vibrant, friendly and cultural my adopted home is! From the Quayside to the coast, I have so much on my doorstep and even though I’ve already lived here a decade, I’m sure there’s plenty more to discover.”
Over 300 heroes will be carrying the Torch through the North East with ages ranging from 12 to 90.
Sophie Adamson, 24 from Seaton Delaval will carry the Olympic flame through Tynemouth. Despite overcoming a great deal of personal adversity over the past year Sophie achieved a First Class Degree in Design for Textiles. Sophie was nominated by her fellow students as recognition for her determination to carry on with her studies and with her sports of swimming and running.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of the Olympics and I am really pleased to be taking part in the Torch Relay. I’m going to be running it in memory of my Mam, as I know that she would be very proud of me. The Torch Relay is a great way for everyone to be part of London 2012, especially for people living far away from the main event.”
Terry Eccles, 59, will be taking time out from being a volunteer NHS car ambulance driver to be one of the Torchbearers through Newcastle on Tyne. Terry was nominated by one of his neighbours for his extensive volunteering work helping people in his local community. Terry who is from Hexham, not only raises money for the youth and for overseas charities, he also runs and cycles to stay fit.
“I was so pleased when I heard I had been chosen to be a Torchbearer especially here in the North East. This is my chance to be part of London 2012; people have been cheering the Olympic Torch Relay as it has gone round other parts of the country and I’m honoured that I can be a part of this event.”
The North East has already played a key role in preparing for the Games.
The North East will be playing a major part in the Games as a host to six Olympic football matches at St James’ Park in Newcastle between Wednesday 26 July and 4 August. Athletes from Sri Lanka, Grenada and Colombia will also be participating in Pre-Games Training camps in the region in the Universities of Durham, Sunderland and Teeside as well as Gateshead International Stadium.
One of the promises made in the bid to host the Games of the 30th Olympiad was the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games would leave a lasting legacy for sports participation.
In the North East:
- twenty-one projects have received £888,617 in the Protecting Playing Fields scheme to protect existing playing fields or develop new ones;
- 18 projects have received awards totalling £836,339 as part of the Inspired Facilities scheme;
- 2 projects have been awarded £1,073,610 as part of the Iconic Facilities scheme, including the new state-of-the-art multi-sports hub in Birtley; and
- Newcastle University’s football pitches – which will be used as training pitches for the football teams playing matches at St. James’ Park – have been upgraded.
The 2012 Games are providing a huge boost to the UK economy with thousands of UK businesses benefitting from the investment injected into planning, delivering and staging the 2012 Games. North East businesses have already taken advantage of many of these opportunities and there are still contracts to be won, particularly for legacy opportunities. 112 North East businesses have won 2012 business contracts worth at least £123 million. This is estimated to rise to over £150 million.
Cultural and Community
There are many Cultural Olympiad events in this region, and highlights include
- Flow, a tide-powered floating sound sculpture: a significant Arts Council Artists Taking the Lead commission;
- Global Rainbow, a light installation that launched the North East Cultural Olympiad in February, which attracted international interest and coverage;
- Connecting Light, a new commission for Hadrian’s Wall by interactive multi-media collective YesYesNo.
Notes to Editors
- Torchbearer Sophie Adamson recently gained a First Class Honours degree in Design for Textiles at Heriot-Watt University in the Scottish Borders. She achieved this despite her mother passing away after a serious illness. Like Sophie, her mother was also involved in athletics and swimming. Sophie’s fellow students regard her as an inspiration for carrying on with her studies and achieving her degree. Sophie is also planning on taking part in the Great North Run and will complete a swim for St Oswald’s Hospice in Gosforth, Newcastle this summer
- Torchbearer Terry Eccles, 59, has worked with young people supporting them on issues like homelessness; and raises funds for overseas charities. He is a volunteer NHS car ambulance driver which he loves. He feels he wants to give something back to NHS after having a heart attack; and he regularly cycles and runs for fitness.
- North East companies awarded Games contracts include:
- Hart Door Systems in Newcastle – which provided roof shutters for the Olympic Stadium
- International Paint in Newcastle – which supplied paint for the Aquatics Centre
- Sotech in Durham – which provided roof cladding for the Aquatics Centre
- Hathaway Roofing in County Durham – which provided roof cladding for the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre