A moment to shine for our historic city

Olympic torchbearer Lena Conlin in Ripon 120619AMpic16
Olympic torchbearer Lena Conlin in Ripon 120619AMpic16

Cheering crowds greeted the Olympic flame as glorious sunshine transformed the city into an Olympic celebration Ripon will remember for years to come.

The torch relay arrived on Mallorie Park Drive just after 4pm, where spectators were strung along the roadside ready to see the historic event. There was a relaxed and expectant atmosphere at the “family zone” in Ripon’s rugby club and football club grounds and residents had set up camp hours before the relay’s arrival to get the best possible view of the torch’s journey past their homes.

Torchbearer Lewis Birkinshaw carried the flame from Fountains Abbey and passed it on to Robert Heaton – a pupil at Nidderdale High School – who carried the flame into the heart of Ripon’s historic city.

Huge cheers greeted the 12-year-old as he ran towards High Skellgate, and dozens of school children ran into the road to follow the torch.

Lena Conlin, who works at Outwood Academy Ripon and volunteers with youth theatre groups in the city, carried the flame round the market square waving to the crowds packed into the market square as she went.

John Skinner, who has volunteered with North Stainley’s junior cricket club for 10 years, ran along Bedern Bank towards Ripon Cathedral’s West Door, where the city’s hornblowers, a military guard, the Dean and the mayor were waiting to greet the flame.

The carefully choreographed events were interrupted for a moment when an eccentric spectator dressed as a robot ran in front of the torchbearer before being rapidly ushered off by the relay’s security.

Hornblowers George Pickles and Paul Schofield and bellman Brian Rushworth were waiting to greet the torch with three blasts of the horn.

John handed the flame over with a “kiss of the torches” outside the cathedral to 13-year-old Izzie Fenny from Yarm, who ran along Minster Road and passed it on to the final torchbearer in Ripon’s stretch of the relay.

Ripon woman Helen Mackezie carried the torch through Harrogate but made it back to Ripon in time for photographs outside the cathedral.

She said “I am ecstatic. The camaraderie with the other torchbearers was amazing.

“My children had a banner saying ‘That’s our Mum’. It’s been brilliant to see people who are just thrilled to bits to even be within sight of the torch, let alone hold it, and I am all smiled out.”

Read about events as they happened through our live tweet stream or for more pictures see the Ripon Gazette, out Thursday, June 21.