Olympic torch: Iraq veteran takes flame on ferry across Mersey

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Media captionIraq war veteran Craig Lundberg said carrying the torch was the proudest moment of his life.

The Olympic flame has made a spectacular journey across the Mersey, to end day 14 of the torch relay in front of a huge crowd in Liverpool.

Iraq war veteran Craig Lundberg, who was blinded in Basra in 2007, took the torch off the Mersey Ferry and lit the cauldron beneath the Liver Building.

The 26-year-old Liverpudlian said: "Its so magical, I'm so proud you've picked me to carry the Olympic torch."

Earlier the flame visited Aintree racecourse and Knowsley Safari Park.

When asked what kept him going, Mr Lundberg, who recently became a father, said "I'm just a Scouser - plain and simple".

To rapturous applause from the estimated crowd of 20,000 at Pier Head he said: "Our city has the best skyline, and the best people and we have held the rest of the country to ransom - they have got to follow us now."

He said he would donate his torch to the new Liverpool museum as it was "part of our heritage".

Olympic track cycling champion Chris Boardman MBE and former Spice Girl Mel C were among the day's 157 torchbearers as the flame followed a tour of north-west England, from Bolton, through Lancashire and on to Merseyside.

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Media captionThe flame was shown to giraffes and elephants at Knowsley Safari Park

First up was swimmer Antony Evitts , 16, from Bolton, who attends Canon Slade School and won the Bolton Sport and Physical Activity Award (BOSPAA) for Sports Achiever of the Year in 2010.

He is hoping to represent Great Britain at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

Olympic cyclist

Among the Olympians carrying the torch was cyclist Boardman, born in Hoylake, who won the individual pursuit at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

He also went on to win two world titles on the track and three stages of the Tour de France.

And Olympian Earnest "Mike" Hatcliff, 78, carried the torch through Horwich.

The former swimmer represented Great Britain at the 1956 Games and in 1971 he started his own School of Swimming in Lytham St Annes.

He estimates he taught around 42,000 children to swim.

Norman Wells, 91, ran with the torch through Ormskirk. In 1946 he was a key founder of the Liverpool Trojans baseball club and in 2011 he won the Sefton Sport Lifetime Acheivement award.

Other torchbearers during the day included:

  • James Hughes, 39, from Liverpool. He has a condition called Anophthalmia, which means he was born with no eyes. He has run 41 marathons and 71 half marathons.
  • Joseph Shaw, 17, from Kirkby, carried the flame in Huyton. He has two younger sisters who both have special needs and despite his young age Joe he acts as a carer for them.
  • Kathleen Tyson, 63, carried the torch through Birkenhead. She has fostered more than 200 children over 25 years.
Image caption Singer and former Spice Girl Melanie C carried the flame in Birkenhead

On the journey from Bolton to Liverpool the flame travelled through Horwich, Chorley, Euxton, Croston, Burscough, Ormskirk, Southport, Ainsdale and Formby.

Then it was taken to Crosby where torchbearers carried it to Antony Gormley's Another Place .

It visited St Helens and Knowsley Safari Park before heading to Huyton, Knotty Ash and Old Swan on its way back to Liverpool.

Just before lunch, the flame made a stop at Aintree Racecourse where it was taken through the grandstands and out on to the racecourse, accompanied by this year's Grand National winner Neptune Collonges.

Later in the day it took the tunnel under the Mersey to Birkenhead before going back to Livepool on the ferry.

A total of 8,000 people will carry the flame on its 8,000 mile, 70-day journey around the UK to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on 27 July.

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