Truly magical: Flame brings spirit of the Olympics to the Borders
"IT was absolutely tremendous and something we will all remember forever."
Local authority Leader David Parker summed up the visit of the Olympic flame to the region on Thursday which, he said, had brought the whole community together.
He was among the crowd of almost 2000, mostly local schoolchildren, who packed inside the 3G Arena at Netherdale in Galashiels to see the torch, which was carried into the stadium by Scottish rugby star Chris Paterson, as it blazed a trail across the Borders.
Speaking to the Border Telegraph, Councillor Parker said: "It's been a really fantastic and memorable day.
"It's wonderful the flame was in the Borders and great that Chris Paterson could bring it to Netherdale. All the kids here really enjoyed themselves and helped create a really brilliant atmosphere - and that is what the Olympics is all about. This will probably never happen again in the Borders in my lifetime."
Day 27 of the relay started in Edinburgh as the flame set out for its 140-mile trip through the Borders into England north of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Councillor Graham Garvie, the convener of the Council, welcomed the flame to our region. But his voice could hardly be heard among the excited screams of the flag-waving spectators in Galashiels after he announced that local archer Kate Murray had been selected to compete for Great Britain in her second Paralympics in August.
Councillor Garvie said: "To me this is one of the most fantastic occasions I have ever taken part in. It is truly a unique event and it's just fantastic that we've been chosen for part for the Olympic Torch relay route."
The Olympic cavalcade passed through Peebles, Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Selkirk, before stopping in Galashiels and then going on to Earlston and Duns, as crowds of well-wishers lined the streets.
The highlight of the visit to the region was the mini-mascot Olympic Games held at Gala Fairydean's ground. During the ceremony, which involved some fun games involving costumed mascots, schoolchildren competed in relay races.
Local MP Michael Moore said it was a terrific day for the region. The Secretary of State for Scotland claimed the event in Galashiels - the biggest of its kind in the Borders - rivalled the Olympic celebrations at Edinburgh Castle the night before.
Mr Moore said: "These kids will never forget this. It will be one of these things that they will take with them throughout the whole of their lives. And, going by the number of folk who have turned out and the great fun that it has been, I think the Borders has done the country and the Olympics proud."
A total of 8,000 people will carry the flame during its 8,000 mile, 70-day journey to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London on July 27.
Paterson, Scottish rugby's record points and caps holder, was among the more notable of the 130 torchbearers on Thursday. And the former Galashiels Academy pupil, who kicked off his career at Netherdale, admitted carrying the torch was one of the highlights of his distinguished career.
He revealed he now plans to take it on a tour of schools to inspire the next generation of sporting stars.
Paterson said: "It's absolutely amazing and I'm struggling to find the words to describe it. To feel that I am bringing the Olympic spirit to the people of the Borders and Gala, especially children, is truly magical.
"Like everyone, since the games were awarded to London, I have been thinking about 2012 as if the day would never come. Well, the day has arrived for the Borders and I hope it will go on to inspire some of the kids here today to become Olympians of the future."
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