OVER 3,000 people lined the streets of Stranraer and many more gathered at Cairnryan early this morning to see the Olympic Torch Relay pass through on its journey around the United Kingdom ahead of the start of the London 2012 Olympics.
The people of Wigtownshire definitely got the Olympic bug and it seemed the most of the County had turned out to clap and cheer every step the Olympic Torch Bearers took.
As dawn broke on a dull, showery day, lines of cars and buses streamed into Stranraer from all corners of the ’Shire and every parking space in the entire town was taken as young and old filed into the streets surrounding Castle Green where the Torch was to be lit at 6am. Shops opened extra early and there was a carnival atmosphere in the air as Stranraer’s moment in the spotlight drew closer.
All the great and the good of the region were there and, shortly after 6am, a great cheer went up as 20-year-old serving soldier Ross McClelland from Ayr set off with his Torch ablaze, jogging from the Green down Charlotte Street and onto Cairnryan Road. AS the first Olympic Torch bearer in Scotland, Ross had the honour of running two legs. Further along, local dance teacher Doreen Bowie from Stranraer ran the final leg in the town, receiving the Torch from Carol Harwood from the Isle of Arran.
Watching as history was made were Lisa Murdoch from Stranraer with her children Laila and Darcie. Lisa said: “It’s been a lovely moment. I will be able to tell to the kids when they are older that they were there.”
Stranraer man David McCrae added: “It’s brilliant. A once in a lifetime moment.”
Linda Barbour, also from Stranraer said: “It was an early start but it was something you wouldn’t want to miss.”
And then, after all the build up and anticipation, it was all over and the Olympic Relay rolled out of town. The Mother Flame was put onto one of the fleet of trucks accompanying the Olympic Torch Relay on its round-Britain route and with an escort of police motorcycles, blue lights flashing, the Olympic Flame headed up the A77 to its next destination - Cairnryan.
In the village the cheering started as the convoy came into view. Then the next Torch Bearer sports coach Harry Waugh, aged 67, from New Luce, got into position. He held his torch up proudly to the leaden skies overhead as the Flame was ignited. Harry set off along the main street in the village at a brisk pace before handing of to 27-year-old charity fundraiser Anne Barclay from Wigtown who completed the Cairnryan leg of the relay at the Stena ferry terminal.
As the flame moved on up the coast to Ballantrae, those in Cairnryan reflected on what they had just witnessed.
Ian and Margaret McKenzie from the village said: “That was so exciting. The Olympic Flame in Cairnryan - that is something we will never see again.”
Three ladies from Wigtown, Betty Smith, Nanette Craig and May McKie had an extra early start to be able to say “I was there”. They described the experience as “brilliant” and “worth getting up for”, but May added they had almost missed the big moment as they were initially standing in the wrong place!
Gavin and Isobel Campbell had travelled all the way over from Creetown to Cairnryan. Gavin summed up the occasion for everyone lucky enough see the Olympic Flame in Stranraer and Cairnryan on Friday, June 8, 2012, calling it a “moment in history”.
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said: “Despite the early hour, many hundreds of people were waiting for the torch at Castle Green, as well as lining the route out of the Stranraer and in Cairnryan. This phenomenal and inspiring turnout made it an extra special morning that will live in peoples’ memories for years to come.
“The people of Wigtownshire have given the torch a fantastic welcome to Scotland. It shows that my campaign, along with local people, to bring the torch to the local area was exactly that right thing to do.
“I spoke with many people on the streets around the Castle Green and people were so enthusiastic about being there, especially parents with their young children. This was a tremendous start for the Scottish leg of the torch’s journey and I am confident that it will be met with the same excited anticipation wherever it appears.”