The Olympic Torch Relay is a “great chance” to show off the North West and celebrate the role that people, places and businesses from the region are playing in London 2012, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said today.
Mr Hunt said:
“With the Torch Relay making its lap around the North West, it’s a great chance to showcase more of the region’s stunning countryside, iconic attractions and world famous towns and cities. I am sure that locals and tourists alike will turn out in their thousands to welcome the torch and enjoy a carnival atmosphere.
“But it’s not all about the party – the Olympic Games will leave a serious legacy too. Old Trafford hosting the football events is expected to bring in around £30 million for the local economy – and the North West’s contribution doesn’t stop there. Around 600 North West businesses are helping to put on the Games, already winning contracts worth more than £210 million.
“With the Olympic Flame passing through, and the North West hosting a series of cultural events to celebrate the 2012 Festival, there’s never been a better time to discover what this part of the country has to offer.”
The Relay has already been through Chester, Bolton and Liverpool and will today enter the North West again before leaving the region on 24 June. There will be evening celebrations in Carlisle, Bowness-on-Windermere, Blackpool and Manchester.
The Olympic Flame’s route will include 90 communities and a range of iconic attractions and landmarks, passing through the Lake District National Park, travelling on a steamer boat across Windermere, and taking in the Blackpool Tower and the Royal Lytham Golf Club.
Torchbearers in the North West range in age from 12 to over 85.
Carl Tilson, 25, will carry the Flame through his hometown in Manchester on 23 June. He has been voted Mancunian of the Year – beating the likes of Gary Barlow, Ryan Giggs, Danny Boyle and Bradley Wiggins – for his tireless volunteer work. He lives with the muscle-wasting condition Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and has already raised more than £100,000 for Action Duchenne.
Carl also comes from proud sporting stock – his grandfather was Fred Tilson Snr, who scored the winning goal for Manchester City in the FA Cup final in 1934.
Carl, who was nominated by Action Duchenne, said:
“It’s a real honour to be chosen – I’m not just carrying the Torch to represent the Olympics or the people of Manchester, but also for people with Duchenne. I’m carrying the Torch for everyone who has the same condition as me.
“I became involved with the charity after I become very ill. I decided I might as well do something positive about it rather than sit around feeling sorry for myself. My message to anyone with Duchenne is to not be too down-hearted, and not be afraid to take chances in life because you never know what the future may hold.”
The North West has already played a key role in preparing for the Games.
The region has seven Pre-Games training camps confirmed covering teams from 22 different nations from every continent, including the Australian Olympic Swimming team, and the American Basketball teams, who will both train in Manchester-based facilities. Pre-Games Training Camps are already taking place in the North West; including Kendal, the training camp home for athletes from eight countries in the Oceania region.
One athlete, Raymond Ovinou from Papua New Guinea, is one of the first Olympians to arrive. He competes in Judo and has been training in Kendal since his arrival a fortnight ago.
Mike Liptrot, head coach of Kendal Judo Club said:
“Olympic Committees in Oceania have an agreement with the North West, which means these smaller nations get the chance to train and acclimatise before the Games begin. As these athletes don’t have a lot of cash, it is great that LOCOG provides a grant of up to £25,000 for training. The fact they get the chance to train in the build-up to the Games means not only do they benefit from the coaching and training, it also means the local community here gets a unique connection with the Games.”
The North West will also play host to Olympic Football, taking place at Old Trafford. Team GB men will play their first match versus Senegal at Old Trafford on 26th July 2012. Brazil and Spain have also been confirmed to play at Old Trafford. In total the venue will host 9 matches over 7 match days including the semi-final for the men’s and women’s competitions. It is projected that hosting the Olympic Football will generate an economic benefit of around £30 million for Greater Manchester.
The North West has 336 projects in the London 2012 Inspire programme – this includes 161 sporting projects and 48 cultural projects.
In total, at least 598 London 2012 related contracts have been won by North West businesses generating an economic benefit of at least £211.8m. To help businesses maximise the benefits from the Games, the region has hosted 90 regional business events which have been attended by over 3,927 businesses.
Cultural and Community
WE PLAY is the Northwest’s unique contribution to the build up to and legacy of London 2012 and primarily funded by Legacy Trust UK. WE PLAY is a four year region wide cultural programme supporting the development of digital culture, outdoor spectacle and young producers through the three annual programmes of AND Festival, Blaze and Lakes Alive.
There have already been more than 48 locally funded and managed cultural projects officially Inspired by London 2012.
Major cultural events already planned for this year include:
- Les Commandos Percu – On The Nightshift, at Windermere and world premiere, blending musical rhythms and amazing effects, as fireworks dance to a thumping soundtrack. This is an official opening event of the London 2012 Festival and coincides with the Torch Relay Evening Celebration event on Windermere on the 21st June;
- We Face Forward: Art from West Africa Today, a major exhibition of contemporary art drawn from West Africa in three Manchester locations from a wide range of artists whose work is internationally acclaimed, but little seen in the UK; and
- Anthony McCall – Column, a giant column of vertical, spinning cloud rising from the surface of Wirral Waters, visible across the North West by day and night. Expected to become an internationally acknowledged landmark from the region.
The region’s Cultural Olympiad programme in the Northwest concludes with the We Play Expo as part of the Preston Guild celebrations across the final weekend of the Paralympic Games (7-9 September).
Notes to Editors
Torchbearer : Carl Tilson – known as ‘Action’ Tilson to his friends and supporters – has worked tirelessly to raise money and awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy despite being almost paralysed with the condition. He uses an electric wheelchair and has to be fed through a tube, and needs a ventilator and heart monitoring equipment while he sleeps.
North West companies awarded contracts for London 2012 include:
- Adlington Welding in Chorley provided welding equipment for the Olympic Stadium;
- Leigh Paints in Bolton and Merseyside Coatings in Widnes supplied paint and coatings for the Olympic Stadium; and
- Icopal in Manchester supplied containment for the Handball Arena
The North West’s Games Legacy
Places, People, Play – Under the Inspired facilities programme (part of Sport England’s Legacy programme), 37 projects have been funded with £2m invested. Alongside this a further four NW facilities were funded under the Iconic facilities programme (also Sport England); the international standard indoor BMX track has opened at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester (£3m funding); Knowsely Sport & Culture Park is open (£0.5m); and Orford Jubilee Park in Warrington which was opened by HM The Queen on the 17th May and will host a Torch Relay lunchtime stop on the 31st May (£2m invested). Also, £0.75m has been allocated to the development of FC United’s new stadium.
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