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Sea of smiles greets torch in Chippenham
The sun beamed down on almost 16,000 people thronging the streets as the Olympic torch arrived in Chippenham yesterday.
With crowds gathering from 8am, there was a late start for the convoy, hampered by taking a wrong turn in Bristol.
Chippenham fireman Rob Warwick took the first leg of the journey from the Chippenham Sports and Social Club on Bristol Road, while Tom Perkins, who works for Invensys, ran the last leg on London Road to the junction with Hardens Close.
Monkton Park School pupils had made their own paper torches and crowns to mark the occasion.
Deputy head Jan Douglas said: “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“We’re lucky to be close to the town and it’s lovely to bring the whole school out so it’s something they can all celebrate.”
Mayor David Powell, who presented certificates to torch bearers on the steps of the town hall after the relay, said: “What a wonderful day. There’s wonderful weather, a wonderful atmosphere, and wonderful people.
“This is such a fantastic, unique occasion.”
Tracy Kernan and her children Josh, Dominic and Harry, who live in the town, had taken their places on the High Street early.
“We’ve been here since about 7.30am, and it was like a ghost town, but now there are so many people trying to get a place,” said Mrs Kernan.
Sam Badger and children Beatrix, four, and Maisy, one and a half, were waiting on the corner of New Road for the convoy to pass by.
“It’s all about celebrating the Olympics,” said Ms Badger.
“The children are so excited to wave their flags.”
MP Duncan Hames said: “This is a fantastic day for Chippenham.
“It really brings people together, and there is such a strong feeling of goodwill, so that’s a real bonus.”
Catherine Weston, 12, and Charlotte Williams, 11, who attend Abbeyfield School, stood by the town hall to watch the torch.
Catherine said: “It is very exciting.
“We don’t have to go into school until a bit later, so it’s nice to be able to watch the torch go by.”