Olympic torch: Rain changes torch plans but ballroom finale brightens day
- 22 June 2012
- From the section UK
Heavy rain and high winds momentarily put out the Olympic flame and forced Blackpool's evening celebration indoors as the relay reached its halfway point.
It was a wet journey from Kendal to Blackpool on day 35 but the crowds still turned out to see the flame.
War veterans Dave Watson and Richard Clement, who both lost limbs on tours of duty, carried the Olympic torch.
McFly's Harry Judd and dancer Aliona Vilani swept across the Blackpool Tower ballroom floor to light the cauldron.
A grand outdoor finale had been planned in the seaside town but torrential and wind reaching up to 50mph curtailed the day's events.
A trip to the top of Blackpool Tower was cancelled and, with the tower in sight, the flame went out as the squall worsened in the early evening. It was swiftly relit from one of the back-up lanterns.
Organisers of the Blackpool celebration, which had sold-out, said in a statement: "Unfortunately, the evening celebration that was due to take place on the Tower Festival headland can no longer go ahead due to the weather conditions.
"Obviously this is disappointing but the safety of spectators and performers has to be our number one priority."
The continuing storms also caused slight changes to the torch's progress through the resort. Earlier events in Garstang, Fleetwood and Cleveleys were also abandoned because of the weather.
The Olympic flame travelled 60 miles between Kendal to Blackpool and the conditions did not deter the crowds from showing their support for the relay participants.
Kendal local Michael Liptrot was the first of the day's 139 torchbearers as he started the relay at the 12th Century Kendal castle.
The 49-year-old represented Britain at judo and it is through his work that the Kendal dojo gained pre-Olympic training camp status ahead of the London Games, hosting boxers from the Pacific island of Nauru.
From Kendal, the torch also travelled to Milnthorpe and Carnforth.
It went to Bolton-le-Sands and Hest Bank before arriving at the seaside resort of Morecambe.
Here Victoria Brier, 54, carried the flame to the Eric Morecambe statue on the promenade.
Graham Ibbeson's bronze sculpture was erected in 1999 as a tribute to the late comedian, who adopted his hometown's name as his stage name.
Ms Brier has been nominated for her work at a residential college for young adults with cerebral palsy.
From Morecambe, it moved to Lancaster, the county town of Lancashire, before continuing its journey to Garstang, St Michael's on Wyre and Fleetwood.
In Lancaster, Mr Watson , a former soldier who lost three limbs in an explosion whilst on patrol in Afghanistan, carried the flame. The 25-year-old is now a Paralympian. He was accompanied by pipers from his old regiment, the Scots Guards.
Leila Hamrang from Manchester carried the flame in a rain-lashed Fleetwood. The 23-year-old has twice battled through leukaemia but has continued to work for charitable and voluntary organisations.
The relay then moved on to Cleveleys awhere it was carried on Britain's first electric tramway, from the Rossall School stop in Cleveleys to West Drive in Blackpool.
Southport's Peter Cunningham, a pastor who works with the homeless and young people, took the flame on board the tram.
Mr Clement also carried the flame in his hometown of Blackpool. The 32-year-old lost both his legs and suffered extensive injuries to his torso and an arm while on active service in Afghanistan in 2010.
Mr Clement now champions the cause of injured soldiers and has campaigned successfully for soldiers to have the right to have their sperm frozen before tours of duty.
Reigning BBC Strictly Come Dancing champions Mr Judd and professional dancer Ms Vilani carried the flame into the ballroom of the Blackpool Tower and danced across the floor to Queen's We Are the Champions before lighting the cauldron.
Judd is the drummer of the pop group McFly and he recently climbed Ben Nevis with his band-mate Tom Fletcher to raise funds for a children's charity.
A total of 8,000 people will carry the flame during its 8,000 mile, 70-day journey to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London on 27 July.