Pride burns bright across Fylde coast

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IT poured and it poured, but nothing could extinguish the pride as the Olympic Games arrived on the Fylde coast.

Thousands took to the streets in torrential rain and strong winds to cheer as the famous torch made its way around the coast and arrived in Blackpool.

Torchbearers carry the Olympic Flame on the Torch Relay leg through Blackpool

Torchbearers carry the Olympic Flame on the Torch Relay leg through Blackpool

The many deserving torchbearers got a drenching, but there was more than just the odd tear of pride as they made their way into the resort.

Yesterday’s leg saw 139 torchbearers being given their moment to shine on the flame’s 60-mile route from Cumbria to Blackpool Tower.

The flame’s arrival here marked the half-way point on its 70-day journey across the country.

Excited

St Annes Paralympic star Shelly Woods, who carried the torch down Bank Hey Street before it went into The Tower, said: “I was so excited. It’s an honour to carry the torch.

“As an athlete preparing for the Games, it’s getting really exciting.

“It’s great to see the torch in Blackpool and to celebrate the Olympic and Paralympics Games coming to London

“As a kid growing up I never thought I would see the torch in my hometown. It’s wonderful.

“It was an amazing experience, I had a great time. It’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Carrying the beacon along Dickson Road was a proud moment for injured soldier and charity fundraiser, Sgt Rick Clement.

The 32-year-old, from South Shore, who lost his legs when he stepped on an improvised explosive device while on routine foot patrol in Afghanistan, said: “It’s brilliant, I couldn’t wait to get out there.

“It’s great to see so many people supporting us, they get to be proud of their local community.

“The weather didn’t dampen their spirits.

“It makes us proud to be British.”

Eight people were given the honour of carrying the torch through Garstang and St Micahel’s, 21 held the beacon through Fleetwood, five others in Cleveleys and 24 people were given their chance to be part of the relay in Blackpool.

Ian Howson, 68, from Marton, was picked to carry the beacon from Knowle Avenue to Warbreck Hill in North Shore for his charity work for the disabled.

Mr Howson, a foster carer, said: “The weather isn’t deterring me. It’s a very great honour to be chosen – it’s a once in a lifetime. I feel very humbled, looking at the people around me. It’s great to have people here to watch – my wife, family and friends are here. We’ve been assured the flame won’t go out!”

And torchbearer Mark Ricketts, 44, from Wigan, held the torch from Derby Road to the Metropole.

He said: “I raised thousands of pounds for a little boy with cancer – it’s an honour to have been chosen.

“I’m so proud, I’m giving my torch to my local school.”