Wakefield celebrates its part in Olympics history

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THE bells of Wakefield Cathedral chimed as the Olympic torch passed through the city.

Thousands of people lined the streets to get a glimpse of the flame as part of its relay across the country ahead of the London Games next month.

Karen Townend of Sandal carries the Olympic torch on its final leg through the city to The Hepworth Wakefield

Karen Townend of Sandal carries the Olympic torch on its final leg through the city to The Hepworth Wakefield

Children were allowed out of school and businesses closed so as many people as possible could enjoy the historic event.

And as the flame made its way into the Bull Ring, children sat on their dads’ shoulders and people stood on cafe tables and chairs to get the best view of the torch.

Eight people carried a torch through the city after being nominated by the public.

Jono Lancaster, 27, of Normanton suffers from Treacher Collins Syndrome and has raised awareness about the facial disorder.

He said he was moved by his experience of carrying the torch.

Mr Lancaster said: “I have been overwhelmed by the response - it has been surreal.

“I didn’t quite realise what a huge event it was until this morning and then when I saw the crowds it hit me.

“I think it is great that the community came out to support us and I shed a few tears.

“I used to get children calling me Mr Scary and people doing a second look when they saw my face, but now they run up to me and call me Jono and want to congratulate me.”

The flame arrived on Wentworth Street shortly before 11.30am to cheers.

Officers on bikes high-fived people, who had been waiting at the roadside since first thing this morning (Monday), and street sellers and clowns provided street entertainment.

Chants of “Harry” were screamed by excited children as Harry Crowther, 13, of Mirfield, took hold of his torch.

He has a genetic disorder which means he is aging five times faster than his classmates.

The flame made its way down Burton Street, Bond Street and past the town hall on Wood Street, before arriving in the Bull Ring.

A wave of cheers then followed it on its journey from Westmorland Street to Teall Street and Kirkgate precinct, before it finally arrived at The Hepworth Wakefield.

The flame was then continued on its route to Castleford, Pontefract and Ackworth, before leaving the district.

Karen Townend, 50, of Sandal carried the flame on its last leg through Wakefield.

The city centre practice nurse was nominated by her patients who she has helped through cancer treatment after overcoming the disease herself.

She said: “I think the torch is magnificent and beautiful.

“It was absolutely fantastic, the atmosphere was amazing and it was great to see the whole community come together.”

The other torchbearers were Gayna Goalby, Per-magne Lillenes, Kieran Burke, Matthew Greaves and Sam Grundy.