A CARNIVAL atmosphere embraced the Yorkshire coast on Monday as Olympic fever came to Hinderwell, Lythe, Sandsend and Whitby.
Thousands lined the streets to cheer on the 13 torchbearers who were given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to carry the Olympic flame.
Lythe resident Louise Hegarty, a teaching assistant and secretary at St Hedda’s School in Egton Bridge, normally avoids the limelight, so she was apprehensive when she discovered she was to carry the torch down Chubb Hill and on to Bagdale.
She said: “I was very nervous, but amazingly calm when it happened.
“Once you started running with it, it was over too soon. It was an absolutely amazing experience and I didn’t want it to end.”
Louise was nominated by St Hedda’s headteacher Mari Palmer due to her work at the school and in the wider community.
“It was such an honour and a privilege, a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” added Louise.
Vanessa Buckle (44), who lives in Whitby, carried the torch in Pickering. She was nominated after completing 10 marathons in 10 days to raise more than £5,000 for charity in memory of her mother.
Sohail Mohammed (30) was born in Whitby and was given the opportunity to carry the torch through his hometown.
A barrister, now based in Newcastle, he said: “I was worried that no one would be there and I would be running by myself.
“However, when I approached the drop off point I found an enormous amount of people waiting and cheering for me. I saw one of my primary school teachers, Mrs Reynolds, and people I went to school with. I felt so honoured to be given the opportunity to run with the torch.”
The flame began its journey through Hinderwell at just after 9am and was preceded by a convoy of vehicles, including motorcycle policemen who gave children a high-five as they passed.
Eleven-year-old Harvey Clacherty and the other pupils of Danby School were given the morning off so they could watch the procession.
Harvey said: “It’s mint because it’s once-in-a-lifetime.
“We’re going to take lots of pictures because it’s probably not going to happen again in this country.”
As the torch passed through Lythe the bearer was greeted by a thunderous bang as the stiddy was fired.
The torch headed down Lythe Bank and through Sandsend, then on to Whitby where it travelled down Upgang Lane, Chubb Hill Road and Bagdale.
At the end of her turn, Louise Hegarty passed the flame on to 25-year-old PE teacher Kelly Williams, from Scarborough, who carried it in to Whitby Station at around 10am and boarded the North York Moors Railway’s steam train, the Green Knight, accompanied by 220 local schoolchildren.
All 18 pupils at Goathland School were invited on board the train and headteacher Susan Chadwick said: “We have been learning a lot about the Olympics so the children understood how important it was and we were all very excited.”
The Olympic flame will travel more than 8,000 miles around the UK, before arriving in London on 27 July for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games.
A degree of chaos has surrounded the identification of torchbearers and LOCOG, the organising committee, has been heavily criticised for their unwillingness to identify many of the carriers, leading local authorities and the media unsure of who would be carrying the torch.
It was for this reason that the identity of Whitby torchbearers was not published prior to Monday’s event.
Get Friday’s Gazette to see all the Olympic torch pictures.