Today the Olympic Flame will arrive in Norwich as part of its six-day journey through the East of England.
The Torch Relay is a “fantastic opportunity” to show off everything the East of England has to offer and celebrate the role that people, places and businesses from the region are playing in London 2012, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.
Over the course of its journey, the Flame will visit a total of 63 regional communities over seven days including two Olympic venues – Canoe Slalom at Lee Valley White Water Centre, Broxbourne, Herts and Cycling (Mountain Bike) at Hadleigh in Essex.
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, said:
“The Olympic Torch relay will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase all that is great about the East of England. From Colchester Castle to the beach at Southwold, the very best of the region will be in the global spotlight.
“The East of England is making a huge contribution to the Games. More than 400 local companies have won Olympic construction projects, the region is home to two Olympic venues and will host a fantastic range of cultural events.
“I’m sure that the people of the East of England will give the Torch an amazing reception.”
Mark Prisk, Minister for Business and Enterprise and local MP, said:
“Many local businesses have demonstrated the innovative and advanced skills they have to offer through the Games. Three have played key roles in the construction and design of Olympic venues – the Olympic stadium, the Velodrome and the Aquatic Centre. In total over 400 games related-contracts worth over £1 billion have been awarded to Eastern businesses.
“Our region is steeped in history, culture and stunning scenery, from the colleges of Cambridge University to Duxford Air Museum and the Norfolk Broads. The arrival of the Flame enables us to showcase that and celebrate our regional heritage as people flock in their thousands to watch the torch here.”
Whilst in the region the Olympic Torch will also visit Colchester Castle and Southwold Beach, even testing out an Olympic venue as it shoots along the white water rapids for the canoe event in Broxbourne. It will be greeted with evening celebrations when it reaches Peterborough, Norwich, Ipswich, Chelmsford, Cambridge and Luton.
Aaron Bettoney, aged 13, from Bury St Edmunds will carry the Flame through Aylsham in Norfolk.
Aaron was chosen to carry the Flame in recognition of his inspirational determination to recover from a road traffic incident which left him with life-changing injuries. In 2009 Aaron was playing with friends when he was knocked off his bike and had to be airlifted to hospital with brain damage and possible paralysis. But he was determined to be up and about as quickly as he could. Aaron lost the hearing in his right ear and suffers minor effects from brain damage, but has not let it hold him back. He achieved his karate black belt one year on, now plays for a local football team and is a member of the sea cadets. Friends and family have been inspired by his positive attitude and ability to try anything.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to carry the Torch and I feel very honoured to have been selected. I hope I am a good role model to people my age and that I can inspire others facing similar challenges to the one I did three years ago that they can overcome them.”
He is hoping to raise funds for the East Anglian Air Ambulance and a school event by selling photos with his torch after his relay stint.
The East of England has a key role in helping to prepare for the Games.
Businesses across the East have won over £1 billion worth of tenders supplying the 2012 Games and related projects. These contracts include essential products and services such as
- The cladding for the Velodrome (Architecture Glazed Facades in Cambridge);
- The seats for the Olympic stadium (Certwood in Luton); and
- The concrete for the Aquatics Centre (AJ Morrisoe in Borehamwood).
Many more have picked up other Olympic related contracts – from manufacturing official Games merchandise to creating the signs that will guide spectators around the Olympic Park.
Lee Valley White Water Centre in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, will host the Canoe Slalom Olympic event in 2012. Construction of the centre started in July 2009 and was completed in December 2010. It opened in spring 2011 as the only brand new London 2012 venue that the public have been able to use ahead of the Games. Following the Games, the venue will remain as a facility for all people to use for canoeing, kayaking and white water rafting. In 2015 the Canoe Slalom World Championships will be held there.
Hadleigh Farm in Essex is a 550-acre site of grassland and woodland that has been selected to hold the Cycling (Mountain Bike) event for the Games. Construction work began on developing the site in July 2010 and was completed on time and within budget in March 2011. The five kilometre circuit is situated on open hillside – a new concept for Mountain Bike events, which are typically held in forested areas. After the Games, Essex County
Council and the Salvation Army, who own the site, are looking into proposals to ensure a lasting legacy for the site.
The East of England is hosting 35 Pre-Games training camps for teams including the Australian gymnastics team, the Rwandan athletics squad, Tunisia and the British Virgin Islands.
Camps are being hosted across the region including:
- Bedford International Athletics Stadium, Bedfordshire
- Basildon Sporting Village, Essex
- Hertfordshire Sports Village, Hertfordshire
- Lynnsport and Leisure Park, Norfolk
- Waveney Gymnastics Club, Suffolk
The Inspire programme, which brings together events inspired by the 2012 Games, has recognised 225 projects and events in the East of England. Of these 69 are culture, 156 are legacy which encompasses sport (83), education (47), volunteering (12), business (10) and sustainability (4). The East of England has the 2nd highest number of education Inspire projects across all regions.
Cambridgeshire’s Striking Together for Gold is a cultural project which brings together over 200 percussionists of all ages, walks of life and abilities to create a never-before-attempted large-scale percussion orchestra. They meet for workshops, rehearsals and performances.
In Hertfordshire young people have been gaining valuable skills through a project designed to enhance, design and create public areas in readiness for the Olympic celebrations. Green Team – Growing Communities is a sustainability initiative led by local charity Groundworks that takes the young people through a 16-week programme of regeneration projects. Groundworks seeks to better the local community whilst offering people life skills and encouraging them to better where they live.
Cultural project It’s Our Theatre in Norfolk is encouraging young people to lead and produce their own cultural events, from dance to acting and music. One aim is to provide positive engagement for those who are isolated, disadvantaged, at risk, unengaged or uninspired, as well as creating professional artists of the future.
Athletes in Essex have been visiting schools and colleges in the county to act as role models and inspire athletes of the future in exchange for council grants to support their Olympic and Paralympic training. The Team Essex Ambassador’s Award is a sports project which has supported 27 athletes from 18 different sports and they have carried out 75 ambassadorial duties since 2011. So far eight ambassadors have qualified for the Games since the scheme began in 2008 and 16 have been part of the Olympics inspired art project ‘Journey to the Podium’.
Major cultural events in the regional include:
- Aldeburgh World Orchestra Project – Conductor Mark Elder and 124 young musicians from across the globe have created a world orchestra, based in Suffolk, with concerts at Snape Maltings and London.
- Carnival Crossroads – This brings together local artists, community groups and schools from Luton, Norwich, Ipswich, Southend and Cambridge to take part in Luton’s annual Carnival on July 8 – the day the Flame also comes to the town. Supported by Arts Council England and the Olympic Legacy Trust UK, the theme will be ‘East Bound’ and showcase history, pride and creativity in the region.
More than 2,600 schools and colleges in the East of England are taking part in the Get Set Network education programme. It provides ideas, opportunities and resources to encourage young people to engage with and celebrate the Olympic and Paralympic Games through their education.
The Government Olympic Communication (GOC) provides an integrated press office service on behalf of all UK Government Departments and Agencies from the arrival of the Olympic Torch on 18 May to the end of the Paralympic Games on 9 September. Visit our news website at www.goc2012.culture.gov.uk or follow us on Twitter @2012govpress