Olympic Torch Relay Ruminations

The Olympic Torch arrived in the UK on May 18th from Greece, and has been taking the very long way around the UK to London for the 2012 Olympic games. It has been travelling through the stormy summer weather to our glorious capital, in time for Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony on 27th July, which apparently is going to feature some sheep and the theme tune to Coronation Street.

Bear Grylls zips across the Tyne Bridge

The Flame is on a circuitous 70 day journey across the UK, carried by 8000 Torchbearers from all walks of life. It has already been up and down the country like a fiddler’s elbow and apparently has come within a one hour journey of  95 per cent of the population of the UK. A one hour journey by helicopter that is. The torch has been carried along by a variety of transport options, as well as the regular jogging along one. Here in Newcastle, ex SAS action man Bear Grylls the TV ‘English Adventurer’ took it across our iconic Tyne Bridge on a zip wire. It has also travelled by horse, bike and steam train. It has been carried by ordinary folk and some lucky celebrities. Some notable suspects have been that great British institution, Will I am, and for Ireland that Irish singing talent duo, Jedward.

Flaming Jedward 

Because most of the population of the UK will not be attending the Olympic Games, the appearance of the torch at-a -street near you has proved to be very popular, and will surely make the 11billion cost to the British tax payer much easier to swallow. In fact, bizarrely, it now looks as though there are going to be tickets left unsold. Sales of tickets to the games has been a cock up of Olympic proportions. At first, you could only be entered into a lottery draw for tickets and you couldn’t specify which events you wanted them for. Then, when you got allocated tickets you didn’t want, you weren’t allowed to swap them for ones that you did want. Then it appeared that all the best tickets had gone to corporate sponsors already. And then, surprise! more tickets were released via a special website that kept crashing. Finally it turned out that the tickets that were left were the really really expensive ones and everyone was so fed up with the whole thing that they decided to stay at home and watch it on the telly anyway..

Mal carries the torch through Durham

As part of one of the projects I mastermind, I decided to nominate a member of NHS staff to carry the torch through our region. Mal Glass is an unassuming finance guy, grandad and Ju Jitsu blackbelt. He would rather have spent his life doing sporty things than balancing books but as a responsible family man he had to pay the bills. He was a big help to me when I set up the staff fitness programme Workforce Workfit which resulted in over 60% of staff getting involved in some kind of physical activity or other within just six months. So, I made a successful nomination and Mal has just had a fantastic day carrying the torch through the local environs. His family were so proud and grateful that it brought a lump to my throat. 






Some of the first torch bearer folk were keen to flog their Olympic Torches (or giant gold cheese graters) on ebay for £50,000 and more. One guy said he needed the money and that it was too big for his mantelpiece anyway. There’s one up for auction on ebay currently for a ‘buy it now’ price of £8k, so they’ve come down a bit if you fancy one. Mal is not selling his torch on ebay but is about to take it and his special torch bearer’s outfit into his grand daughter’s primary school to talk about his experience. Maybe this is what it’s really meant to be about. 

Making the family proud


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One comment

  1. I'm becoming more Canadian by the day – because I think all those folk who complain about this stuff have got nothing better to do. How nice that Mal and his family were all thrilled. They deserve the honour for being pleased. Jolly good show.

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