THE Olympic Torch will now travel through Galloway on its journey round Britain after the organising committee changed the original route to include Stranraer and Cairnryan.
Galloway MSP Alex Fergusson has welcomed the announcement, saying: “When the first details were announced some months ago, I was horrified to note that it seemed that the torch would have no presence at all in the South of Scotland. Having written to both Lord Coe and the Minister for Sport to point out that this omission was totally unjustified given that there was a spare day between the torch leaving Belfast and arriving in Glasgow, I am delighted that the powers that be have seen fit to ensure that the South West of Scotland is not to be left out when the torch comes to Scotland.
“Although its journey through this constituency will be confined to Stranraer and the A77, I am sure that thousands of my constituents will want to witness the procession – it is, after all, a genuinely once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said: “This is exciting news and a real tribute to all the local people who made our campaign to bring the Olympic Torch to Dumfries and Galloway such an enormous success. I was overwhelmed by the response to our campaign and it showed there is real enthusiasm to see the Torch here. I was disappointed when our region wasn’t included in the initial list of stops and I’m delighted that the fight to bring it here has paid off.
“The eyes of the world will be on the Olympic Torch Relay and the fact it visits our region for two days, with six stops in total, is a tremendous opportunity to showcase Dumfries and Galloway to hundreds of millions of people across the globe. There is already a lot of anticipation about the Olympics and this will now create a real buzz because the Olympic Torch will be right on our doorstep. With the first and last stops in Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway has a special place in the Relay route as we first welcome the Torch to Scotland and then proudly send it on its way to the Games. I know that between now and next summer local people will enjoy planning how we give the Torch a fantastic welcome and make Dumfries and Galloway’s leg of the Relay the best of anywhere in the country.”
SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod said: “I am delighted that Dumfries & Galloway will be welcoming the Olympic Torch to Scotland and that six locations in the region will be destinations on its route.
“The indications in May were that the Torch might be taken from Belfast straight to Glasgow, missing out Dumfries & Galloway entirely.
“I wrote to the UK Minister then to impress on him the importance of the torch travelling through Dumfries & Galloway, not least because it will bring people much closer to an event which would otherwise be very far away from them.
“Clearly the Organising Committee has reconsidered and I am very pleased with the result.”
Local Conservative Councillor John Dougan also warmly welcomes the news that Stranraer will be hosting the Olympic Torch as it tours the UK next year,
He said: “This is great news and allows locals to be part of making history, the torch will arrive in Scotland and Stranraer on the 8th June 2012.”
Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG said: ‘We are thrilled to confirm that Dumfries and Galloway will act as host locations for the Olympic Flame, extending an invitation to people in Dumfries and Galloway to welcome the Olympic Torch Relay during its journey around the UK. This is the UK’s moment to shine and I want to encourage people across Dumfries and Galloway to start planning how they can be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity and show their support for the inspirational Torchbearers chosen to carry the Olympic Flame as we count down to the start of the Olympic Games.”
The 70 day Olympic Torch Relay, will start at Land’s End, Cornwall on the morning of 19 May 2012. On leaving Land’s End, the Olympic Flame will travel an estimated 8,000 miles around the UK giving thousands of communities and individuals their moment to shine as the Olympic Flame comes to a place near them.