st ANDREWS will be at the forefront of the celebrations for the 2012 London Olympic Games as one of a select few towns specifically chosen to host a torch lighting ceremony, as it travels some 8000 miles across the length and breadth of the country.
As first exclusively revealed in the Citizen last year, the Olympic Torch Relay is coming to St Andrews this summer - and plans to make the occasion another stunning red-letter day for the university town are already taking shape.
The torch will pass through more than 1000 communities during its 70-day journey around the United Kingdom.
However, St Andrews will have the added honour of hosting a torch lighting on June 13 - an event that is sure to attract huge breakfast-time crowds to line the streets as it travels through the town at the start of its eventual day-long journey to Edinburgh.
Local charity, the St Andrews Partnership, is helping to co-ordinate the exciting programme, with support being provided by key partners Fife Council, St Andrews University and members of St Andrews Community Council and the goal is to make the occasion an accessible and enjoyable spectacle for as many people as possible to share in the Olympic spirit.
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Many of the historic day’s festivities are still being finalised, but it has been confirmed that the torch-lighting will take place within the centuries-old St Salvator’s Quadrangle in North Street during a sports-themed event with community-wide participation and a particular focus on young people.
Admission will be by ticket only, with final arrangements to be publicised nearer the date.
The timetable will be meticulously planned to the second and the torch will be lit shortly after 7.30am and then immediately handed to the first of several relay runners who will carry it through the St Andrews streets.
The exact route will be announced shortly by the London Games Organising Committee (LOCOG), who have been working closely with council officials and Fife Constabulary to devise a smooth passage for the relay, allowing it to be viewed safely by as many people as possible.
Then, following literally in the footsteps of the torch, scores of local schoolchildren will take part in their own relay run through the town, starting and finishing at the quadrangle where they will be cheered on by friends and family.
Local organisations and businesses will be encouraged to enter into the spirit of the occasion, both during the build-up period and on the day itself, and it is hoped that a carnival-like atmosphere can be created. With the relay due to take place at breakfast time it should mean minimal disruption to the working and school day, explained Patrick Laughlin, of the St Andrews Partnership.
The identity of the torchbearers themselves will be announced by the LOCOG in March. It is anticipated that there will be around five torchbearers for the St Andrews section of the relay and they have been selected following an extensive public nomination process held in late 2011. Each will carry the torch for a few hundred metres through the town, preceded by a special convoy of vehicles.
Mr Laughlin told the Citizen: ”This genuinely unique occasion will be another opportunity for the whole St Andrews community to come together to create and participate in a town-wide spectacle. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Olympic Torch - one of sport’s truly iconic images - in our own town.”
As more details of the day are finalised, information will be widely publicised locally, and a dedicated website for the event is currently in the early stages of preparation.
He added: “While we do expect to attract considerable media coverage for St Andrews on the back of the torch relay - and some additional visitors - our focus is to ensure that this fantastic occasion has a distinctively St Andrews feel. This will be a day that is organised primarily for the town, by the town.”
The Olympic Torch Relay will also pass through other parts of North East Fife - including Newburgh, Cupar, Dairsie, Guardbridge and Leuchars - on the afternoon of June 12, en route to its overnight stop in Dundee.
The Olympic Flame is due to arrive at the Olympic Stadium on July 27 for the lighting of the cauldron at the opening ceremony, signifying the start of the London Games.