Today the Olympic Flame will arrive in Milton Keynes as part of its ten-day journey through the South East of England.
The Torch relay is a chance to “shine a spotlight” on the very best of the South East of England as it make is way through 120 communities across the region including Oxford, Portsmouth, Dover, Brighton and Guildford, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said today.
Mr Hunt said:
“The Torch relay will show off the very best of the South East of England – from the Thames at Henley to Brands Hatch and Bletchley Park – to a worldwide audience.
“I’m sure that the Flame will get a fantastic reception in all 120 of the South East communities it will visit.”
Whilst in the region the Olympic Flame will travel by rowing boat along the Thames at Henley, by chair lift on the Needle in the Isle of White and by Paralympic cycle at Brands Hatch as well as key attractions including Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes and Battle Abbey in East Sussex.
Gemma Collis, 19, a member of the GB team for the Paralympic Games who is carrying the flame through Aylesbury said:
“It is an honour to be selected to carry the Flame, this really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“To know that for those few minutes you are the only person in the country carrying the Flame is really special. I have always been a massive fan of the Olympics and to be part of it, even in a small way, is amazing.”
The South East of England has a key role in helping to prepare for the Games.
Businesses across the South East have won an estimated £2.6 billion worth of tenders supplying the 2012 Games and related projects, and more than 600 have played a role in construction of the Olympic Park, including:
- Flooring and paint for the Velodrome (Floortrak in Romsey, Hampshire)
- Dive boards to the Aquatics Centre (Cordek in West Sussex)
- Cladding for the Olympic Stadium (Prater Ltd in Surrey)
Many more have picked up other Olympic related contracts – from manufacturing publishing official Games programmes to providing trees for the surrounding parkland.
The South will host a number of Olympic events including the Cycle Time Trial and Road Cycling in Surrey, the Canoe Spring and Rowing events at Eton Dorney, two Paralympic rowing events at Eton Dorney and Paralympic cycling at Brands Hatch.
The region has 60 Pre-Games training camps confirmed, including the Barbados Paralympics Squad based at Medway Park in Kent and the New Zealand triathlon team which will train at the University of Oxford.
To add to the region’s reputation for nurturing some of the finest Olympic talent, such as Dame Kelly Holmes (Tonbridge) and Sir Steve Redgrave (Marlow) a number of South East stars will be among Britain’s brightest hopes for Olympic and Paralympics including:
- Southampton’s Iain Percy OBE, who is hoping to add to the Olympic sailing golds he won in Sydney and Beijing
- Hockey player Ashley Jackson from Chatham, who is the first English player ever to be named World Young Player of the Year, and looking to build on the European bronze he won in 2011
- Dani King, from Southampton, who at 20 years of age in 2011 became World Champion as part of Women’s Cycling Team Pursuit
- David Smith, Paralympics GB Boccia Team, from Hampshire
- Aaron Phipps, Paralympics GB Wheelchair Rugby Team, Hampshire
The Inspire programme, which brings together events inspired by the 2012 Games, has recognised 264 projects and events in the South East of England.
In Hampshire and the Isle of White, Capture the Wave is helping school children with physical, sensory and learning difficulties to take up Paralympic sailing, swimming and rowing. Boccia Revolution has been teaching community groups across Oxfordshire to play the Paralympic sport of Boccia.
Across the region there have already been more than 60 locally funded and managed cultural projects officially inspired by London 2012, including Driving Inspiration which has helped disabled arts and journalists working with schools across the UK and internationally to create a living archive for Stoke Mandeville, capturing the inspiration of Paralympians past and present.
Other major cultural events planned for 2012 include:
- Stories of the World: World Stories in Brighton – Young Voices (23 Jun – 31 Dec 2012) – young people design a new permanent gallery for Brighton’s world art collection, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
- Tracy Emin’s ‘She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea’ (Margate Turner Contemporary, May – Sep 2012) – which will see the renowned artist creating a one-off exhibition for Margate, the place where she grew up and from which she has drawn inspiration for many of her most famous art works
- The English Flower Garden (various, summer 2012) – highly rated ceramic artist Paul Cummins’ celebration of the nation’s love of flowers will come to the Garden of England, with special installations at ‘The Secret Gardens of Sandwich’ in Kent and Blenheim Palace
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 Flame 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
- Business and tourism key facts and briefing
- View and embed our Tripline map following the torch relay around the UK: http://bit.ly/KvSTv0