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Thousands line the streets to cheer on the Olympic Torch in the Chichester District


Thousands of people lined the streets when the Olympic Torch travelled through the Chichester District on Monday (16 July). People, young and old, came out to cheer on the Torch, which started in Rogate and travelled through Midhurst, Easebourne, Tillington, Petworth, Duncton and Chichester, despite the rain.

"We'd like to thank everyone who came out on Monday to support the Olympic Torchbearers. Literally thousands of people across the district braved the weather to show their support. We know that the Torchbearers really appreciated this," says Cllr Eileen Lintill, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Wellbeing, and Community Services at Chichester District Council. "As well as supporting the Torchbearers, many communities held special events to celebrate the torch relay. In Petworth Park, in excess of 1,500 schoolchildren welcomed the torch and held their own Olympic Games.

"We'd also like to thank all of the volunteers who helped to make the day happen."

In Chichester, about 200 children aged 8-12 took part in a mini-Olympics, which is an Inspire marked project, and participated in various sporting activities during the morning in Oaklands Park.

Another 2,350 children, plus torchbearers, Morris dancers, Chichester Festival Youth Theatre members, and the Olympic Mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, then joined in as the Olympic torch relay took its lunchtime stop in Oaklands Park. Members of Chichester Festival Youth Theatre's Street Art company performed a Changing the Guard sequence at the theatre's Theatre on the Fly before torchbearer for the theatre leg, Mary Pearce, 65, mingled with the schoolchildren.

Cllr Lintill says: "The children who came to the event were impeccably behaved. It was such a shame that the weather was so dreadful because we had hoped that they would picnic in the park and meet all of the Torchbearers who had come down from earlier communities. However, Mary Pearce, the Torchbearer who ran into Oaklands Park, tried to run around the children, so that they could get a closer glimpse. We hope that they enjoyed their day.

Ross Harper, was one of the Torchbearers who came down to the lunchtime event. Ross is from Brighton and ran in Rogate. He said "Running with the Olympic Torch was very exciting and a real honour. It was lovely to see so many people lining the streets with smiles on their faces."

A Torch from 1948 even made an appearance. Ella Humphreys, who was with her granddaughter Cassie Bailey, brought along the 1948 Torch that her husband ran with for two and a quarter miles! The old and the new Torches were pictured together, when Ella and Torchbearer, Ross Harper, had the opportunity to swap stories.

The torch then continued on its journey through Chichester, including past the Market Cross, before heading onto Arun.