Olympic Torch

Thousands turned out and lined Torquay Road, Bridge Road and the Bridge itself to watch the Olympic Torch on its journey through the village.
Shaldon resident and stalwart of the Dartmoor search and rescue team, Alec Collyer, carried the torch from Fonthill to Hunter’s Lodge. He passed it on to local youth worker Lee Manning who carried it along Bridge Road and then passed it on to surprise celebrity torch bearers, Muse, the world famous band from Teignmouth.
A truly memorable day and honour for Shaldon. Here is Alec Collyers account of his day.

TORCH DAY

It all seemed so long in coming, and then went in a flash!!

I'd known that I'd be carrying the torch since before Christmas, when I was sworn to secrecy not to reveal the fact to anyone other than trusted family. Then March came with the formal announcements of names, the actual routes still unclear. Even when the route became available online I still wasn't sure exactly where I'd run.

When I submitted my security documents I had written "If my bit was in Shaldon, my home village, that would be great", I guess someone saw that.

About two weeks before, we got our packs with the very fetching "Elvis's Pyjamas" running suit, and instructions to be at Torre Abbey at 2.15pm latest on the day, and actual route details of starting at the top of Commons Old Road. That spot is so meaningful, just above "Whitstone", now James and Emma's "River House" where I was for 50 years, and just below "Fonthill, where Mum's family have been since the 1840s and now sold for a new beginning we hope.

I had previously met Lee Manning who was next on to me, and we met to discuss the route on Bridge Road and then in the ferryboat garden, beer in hand.

There was an announcement that the MUSE boys were joining us, and in came Matt, Chris and Dom, all in their white suits! We had a briefing on the bus about the sequence of the relay, how we passed the flame across by "kissing" the torches. Then suddenly the Police escort motorbikes started and we were off, as soon as we pulled out of Torre Abbey we were confronted by a wall of cheers and flags….amazing…!!

All along Torquay seafront, up into St Marychurch and Babbacombe, it was unbelievable, thousands and thousands of waving cheering people as we stopped every 300 metres to let the next Torchbearer out. Then we left Babbacombe and headed along the coast road, still people in driveways waving.

Suddenly we were in Shaldon, "OK Alec, you're number 104" and I jumped out into a small crowd around the top of Commons Old Road / Oak Tree Grove. Lots of familiar faces, Tony Graeme, Paul and Molly Cayless, Eileen Pile, Fi from work, loads of cheering and photos needed with the still cold torch.

Another few convoy vehicles arrived and then the torch runner's escort with the flame in the Davey lamp, my torch was turned on and off we went, to many cheers. I walked the first bit at a brisk pace, until I was asked to speed up a bit! All down the Torquay Road, faces I recognised, shouts from friends and strangers alike, down the road, past Queen Victoria's memorial, around the bend, and there was Lee Manning, a quick handshake and the flame was transferred….it was over….all in a flash !

Pete from BBC Spotlight was there, a quick gasped chat, a quick kiss for Angie, Poppy and Verity, and then back in the bus. The crowds on both sides along Bridge road amazing! Loads of boats in the river below, we looked behind the bus out along the Bridge, thousands and thousands there, we all said "We'll never see anything like this again".

Picking Paul Ruff up on the Bishopsteignton Road we headed back to Torre Abbey through Newton Abbot, not so quiet and nervous now, jokes, smiles and promises to meet up again for a beer sometime.

Alec Collyer 22 May 2012


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