Cornwall’s management of the first day of the Olympic Torch Relay has been praised by the organisers of the London 2012 Olympics.
After months of hard work and planning by the community task force set up by Cornwall Council to lead preparations for the event, up to a billion people from across the world watched as the Olympic Flame was flown by a helicopter from RNAS Culdrose to Land’s End for the official launch of the Olympic Torch Relay on Saturday (May 19).
More than 5,000 people, including hundreds of representatives of international, national, regional and local media, watched as three times Olympic Gold medallist Ben Ainslie lit the first torch at the iconic finger post at Land’s End.
More than 240 reporters, photographers and film crews from around the world were at Land’s End to mark the historic moment when the flame was transferred from the Humphry Davy style lantern to the first Olympic Torch just after 7am.
Similar numbers of the world’s media had also been at RNAS Culdrose the previous day when the Olympic Flame was landed at the naval air base aboard BA flight 2012 accompanied by The Princess Royal, Lord Coe, Chairman of Olympic organisers, London Mayor Boris Johnson and footballer David Beckham.
“This has been a very special time for everyone in Cornwall,” said Cornwall Council Leader Alec Robertson, who provided financial support from his contingency fund, and was at RNAS Culdrose for the arrival of the Flame and at both Land’s End and the Tamar Bridge to mark the beginning and the end of the Olympic Torch Relay in Cornwall.
“We said from the start that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to showcase the very best we have to offer and we certainly achieved our aim.”
“I am very proud of Cornwall for coming out and supporting this event in such an incredible way and want to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this happen.”
“There was a fantastic atmosphere across the whole of Cornwall,” added Chris Ridgers, the Council’s portfolio holder for economy and regeneration. “Everywhere you went you saw smiling, happy faces with thousands of people having fun. The communities along the route worked very hard to organise events in their local areas and I would like to congratulate and thank them for helping to make this a real day to remember.”
“We were asked to make regular reports about what was happening in Cornwall to representatives of the Government Olympic Executive,” he added. “When we finally signed off at 8 pm as the Torch crossed over the Tamar Bridge into Devon, we were told that they were delighted with how it had gone and praised for our hard work and organisation.”
The combination of the huge numbers of people who did watch the arrival of the Flame and the start of the Relay together with the impact of the world-wide media coverage is expected to generate millions of pounds for the Cornish economy.
The Olympic Torch relay section of the VisitCornwall website had received 38,000 additional visits by 5pm on Friday and officers from CDC are currently evaluating the impact of this whole event on the economy of Cornwall.