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‘My moment to shine carrying the Olympic Torch’ by Ian Sockett

What an amazing day! Thursday 24th May 2012 was quite simply an experience which words alone cannot hope to convey. The volume and warmth of the crowds in Gloucestershire,

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from where I began the day was evident from the moment the Torch Relay bus departed, with all 20 torch bearers aboard.

I was scheduled to run my leg of the relay through Hartpury, however a late absentee meant that I actually got to run a double leg; the last leg of the relay before the flame was returned to it’s lantern for the journey to Ledbury.

During the minutes before I began the run the electric crowd cheered and beckoned for

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photos and for a touch of the golden torch. I weaved desperately across the road, back and forth trying to

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let as many of the supporters have their own personal moment with the torch. What an overwhelming feeling of support, excitement and anticipation from those lining the streets. As my fellow torch bearer ‘kissed’ my torch and transferred the flame I was away. It was my moment to shine.

What followed was an incredibly humbling few minutes.

Adults and Children. Teenagers, Mums and Dads, Grannies and Grandad’s. School kids and students. Everyone was cheering and shouting, waving and bouncing with super-charged energy all along the route.

Once the leg was over and flame safely returned to its lantern, there was just time to share the torch with more of the crown before the relay bus scooped me up – the last of the torch bearers, and I was greeted with more applause and “whoops”.

I use the word humbling because it is difficult to understand just how I came to be honoured in this way.

On my return to Hereford I hurried in to High Town to catch a glimpse of the flame passing through my home town. My torch (now decommissioned) accompanied me to the city centre and I was soon forced to remove it from it’s sleeve to let the fantastically supportive people of Hereford have a touch, hold or photo with the impressive ‘golden wand’. Two hours and one very hoarse torch bearer later, people were still lining up. From babies just weeks old to folks who had glimpsed the torch relay of 1948, everyone was buzzing with excitement. It was impossible to refuse any of them. If all it costs is my time to see people so happy then that is a tiny, tiny sacrifice.

At this point I should say a massive and heartfelt THANK YOU to the two police officers who unprompted, stayed with me throughout the photo-thon. One Officer became an expert phone-camera-man. Nothing was too much trouble and no one was turned away. He took charge of Samsungs, iPhones, Nokia’s and the like, ensuring that everyone got their picture. Officer No.2 meanwhile spontaneously took care of my rucksack which soon became an impromtu collection bucket. Knowing that I have been fund raising for Macmillan Cancer Support for a number of years the Officer invited donations. Before I finally left, the generosity of local people once again overwhelmed with over £250 amassed in my now weighty rucksack.

Officers – you know who you are. I can’t name you for obvious reasons however, you are a credit to Hereford and you are a credit to the West Murcia Constabulary.Thank you so much for your efforts, which stretched way beyond the call of duty.

So that’s all I can say, at least all I can say without welling-up for N’th time!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past few years. YOU are the reason that I got to carry the torch and YOU are the hero’s in all this.

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