DOREEN Bowie, a much loved dancing teacher from Stranraer, was given the honour of carrying the Olympic Flame onto Scottish soil on Thursday night when it arrived via the ferry from Larne in Northern Ireland.
The iconic flame arrived off the evening sailing in the teeth of a summer storm. Wind and rain buffeted local politicians, representatives and members of the national media as they waited on the rain lashed quayside.
Dressed in her spotless white Olympic tracksuit, 62-year-old Doreen disappeared into the bowels of the huge P&O Irish Sea European Highlander car ferry at 6.30pm, before reappearing holding the ‘Mother Flame’ in its safety lantern.
Having negotiated the gangplank, she was soon surrounded by television cameras and microphones. It seemed the world wanted to hear what Doreen had to say about carrying the Olympic Flame onto Scottish soil for the very first time.
Back in the warm dry terminal the umbrellas were put away as Doreen stood for pictures with the Flame, flanked by London Olympic 2012 officials.
Doreen, who will carry the torch through the streets of Stranraer after 6am on Friday morning, said she felt “wonderful” to be the bearer of the flame and handled the media storm that engulfed her at the quayside with aplomb.
She said: “Do you know I hardly noticed them! I was on such a high I didn’t even feel the cold and the rain. It was such an honour and I am really looking forward to tomorrow now.”
Especially delighted to be there were seven-year-old Bronagh Gibb, and her mum, Lyndsay. Bronagh is one of Doreen’s pupils at the Wallace School of Dance and the family nominated Doreen for the honour in recognition of her years of dedication to children who want to learn to dance.
One sour note was the decision to use the Dumfries Branch of the National Youth Choir of Scotland to welcome the Flame instead of the more local Galloway Branch at a time when they are fighting for their survival.
The NYCoS Dumfries choir sang the Going for Gold Cantata “Faster, Higher, Stronger” as the Flame arrived.
NYCoS announced in April that the Galloway Branch, based in Newton Stewart, would be merged after the summer with the Dumfries Choir, meaning a long weekly journey for choristers from the west of the region. After strong objections were raised by parents, the new chief executive of NYCoS has agreed to meet local families later this month to discuss options.
One mother of a NYCoS Galloway member said: “There are some very angry and very devastated choir members and their parents after watching NYCoS Dumfries sing as the Olympic Torch arrived in Cairnryan. This was ridiculous - even to merge the choirs would have been fine but to ignore Galloway completely really is the final straw.”
A NYCoS spokesman said: “The Galloway Branch of NYCoS were already performing at a concert on Thursday night that had been booked for a while so it would have meant them having to cancel the concert.”
On hearing the NYCoS stance, a parent told The Galloway Gazette that she thought the Galloway Choir could have cancelled or postponed their concert as they had organised it themselves.
She added: “I can’t think of a parent who would have complained - lets face it I’m sure the decision wasn’t made in the last week - we had plenty of time to reschedule.”