PEOPLE in Bicester were out in full force this week as the Olympic Torch relay snaked its way across the country.
On day 51 the relay started in Luton before heading north to Milton Keynes, then west through Buckingham, through Winslow, south again to Aylesbury and by the middle of the afternoon it had reached Bicester.
Bicester residents showed the same enthusiasm for the spectacle that every town has shown along the route, some grabbing the best vantage points two hours before the torch arrived.
The excitement of the event surprised a lot of people.
Bicester resident, John Walton, said: “I must admit until today I wasn’t that bothered by the Olympics but I’m glad I came.
“It’s been quite emotional to be honest, seeing the support from the people of Bicester.
“I thought it would be a quiet affair but the there has been a good turn out and it’s been very well supported.”
The relay convoy arrived roughly on schedule at around 2.45pm and was welcomed by a contingent from Bicester Town Council at the Talisman Road roundabout. Together with Cherwell District Council they were responsible for much of the organisation.
Mayor Dan Sames thanked the 50 members of the 23 Pioneer Regiment who turned up at their request to act as marshals. The council also set out all the bollards and bunting to help manage the spectators.
Mr Sames said he had never seen such a big crowd in the town and added: “The turnout was brilliant. It was really exciting as we watched people coming out and seeing the crowd just build and build.
“I was there at the start and saw it all kick off and the atmosphere in Sheep Street was electric.
“It tops the crowd we had for the Pioneers homecoming parade, that’s the next biggest crowd we’ve had.
“I think it really inspired people and has really set things up for the Olympics.”
Laura Farrow, from Bicester, bought along her three-year-old daughter Billie and 11-year-old son Owen who was let out early from Longfields School to enjoy the torch relay.
They were camped out on the corner of Middleton Stoney Road for the final stint of the Bicester leg.
Mrs Farrow described the atmosphere as busy, noisy and lots of fun. She added: “Hundreds of people are out to support it which is fantastic. It is a once in a lifetime chance to see something like this, so I thought it was important to bring the kids.
“But it’s been really good entertainment for them and the police have been really good as well.
“I think it’s definitely something to be proud of and it is nice to be able to be part of it.”
There were five people carrying the torch through Bicester, each with their own inspirational story.
They were Amie Ing, from Aylesbury, Carly Castle, from Banbury, Simon Cruden, from Kidlington, Dr William Zoghbi, from Houston, Texas, and Tom Rollason, from Deddington.
n See page 12 for their stories.