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Olympic torch wows the crowds in North Yorkshire
10:41am Wednesday 20th June 2012 in News
Helen Russell in Barnard Castle
THOUSANDS of people created a carnival atmosphere as the Olympic torch completed the last leg of its journey through the North-East.
Crowds of high-spirited spectators lined the streets of Barnard Castle, in County Durham, to cheer on the relay as it passed through the market town just after 3pm today.
Many people described feeling as though they were in London due to the large crowds and patriotic atmosphere in the town.
After finishing its journey through Barnard Castle, the torch departed for Cumbria.
Joe Willis in Leyburn & Aysgarth Falls
The flame arrived at Aysgarth Falls at noon.
The first torchbearer was 89-year-old Maurice Collett, Kendal, who admitted having nightmares about tripping as he carried the torch down the steep bank to the bridge over the River Ure.
Afterwards, he said: “I’m quite a long way from home but it’s been a delightful day.”
Children from primary schools across Wensleydale, Swaledale and Bishopdale squeezed into the national park centre car park to welcome the flame.
Natasha Hill, 11, from Reeth Primary School, said: “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it was really cool because I was able to touch it.”
The torch then moved on to Leyburn where crowds packed into the town centre and lined Richmond Road to get a glimpse of the flame and relay procession.
Children from Leyburn Primary School and the Wensleydale School cheered and waved flags from the roadside, alongside pensioners from Brentwood Lodge care home.
Among the three torchbearers was 19-year-old Megan Fearnley, who said afterwards: “It was overwhelming.”
Mother-of-two Kate Jakobsons, 21, said: “It was such a nice day for it and something you can tell the kids about.”
Ashley Barnard in Richmond
In Richmond, thousands of primary school children lined the route of the torch. Councillor Stuart Parsons said he thought the population of Richmond, and more, had turned out for the occasion.
"It was a fantastic turn out and makes me proud to be from Richmond," he said.
At Richmond School, the town's final torch bearer, John Hacking, from Tunstall, completed a lap of honour.
"It was the most wonderful day and the best experience that I could have had," he said.
An hour before the torch's arrival in Richmond, Olympics chief Sebastian Coe performed the official opening of new buildings at the town's secondary school, which has undergone a mtuli-million pound refurbishment.
He said: "It was fantastic that we have had a double celebration for the school opening and the torch arriving on the same day."
Emily Flanagan & Ashley Barnard in Northallerton
The Olympic torch was carried into Northallerton at 10.15am by 14-year-old George Conway, from Easingwold, whose mother Rachel recently lost her fight with cancer.
The teenager, who has a rare muscular disease, was pushed in his wheelchair along Thirsk Road by his dad, Shaun.
His dad, who said earlier that ‘proud doesn’t even come close to describing about how I feel’ was close to tears after his son handed over the Olympic flame and too emotional to talk.
George was cheered along by the crowds and by his school friends from Easingwold School, who walked alongside him on the pavement.
People packed into Northallerton High Street and hung out of upstairs windows to catch a glimpse of the torch as it progressed through the town.
Jackie Taylor, who with friends Jean Purvis and Doris Carr-West had managed to get some garden chairs lined up on the pavement from where they could watch the relay as it arrived in the town.
She said: “It was a wonderful atmosphere and we were blessed with the weather.”
The torch left the town at 10.50am.
Stuart Minting in Thirsk
OLYMPIC torch mania arrived in Thirsk on board the locomotive The Scots Guardsman this morning.
Thousands of school children turned out to cheer the flame as it passed through the town on the 33rd day of the relay.
Josephine Loughran, who carried the torch on the train between York and Thirsk, said: "It was really exhilarating.
"I feel very privileged to have taken the torch on one of its longest legs."