OLYMPIC TORCH 4.12pm: “Staggering” numbers of people line streets for the torch

The Maskell family, waiting for the Olympic torch to go past
The Maskell family, waiting for the Olympic torch to go past

THOUSANDS of flag-waving children and cheering crowds have welcomed Olympic Torch to Eastbourne.

People lined the roadside along Kings Drive as the torch arrived in the town and set off from Kings Close to Enys Road.

Scouting stalwart Sue Barber was the first torch bearer, running from Kings Close to Prideaux Road.

Then it was the turn of Robert Dryer, who finished his stint amid loud cheers at Enys Road when he handed over the flame to Sue O’Hara.

Robert said, “It was absolutely fantastic. Best thing I’ve ever done.”

Further along the route, on the seafront, Sandy Hardwick was watching the relay with her mum and dad, Les and Margaret Collins.

Sandy said, “I thought the atmosphere was amazing. We’ve been here since 1.30pm to get a space and it was worth the wait. A great opportunity.”

Her mum Margaret added, “It was a carnival atmosphere.”

People lined the prom and watched from hotel balconies, then spilled into the street to run after the flame as it went past.

Sussex Police reported “staggering numbers” of people turned out in Eastbourne to see the torch as it weaved its way through the town, with massive crowds on both sides of the street witnessing this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Police said that crowds were being held back to allow to torchbearers to run along the seafront with the torch. People were even running alongside and behind it as the parade slowly moved out of Susans Road and into Cavendish Place among huge crowds.

“Everyone wants to see that torch,” report the police on their website.

Ironically, though the torch run through Eastbourne began in brilliant sunshine, a mist blew in from across the South Downs to cover the town as it neared the seafront.