2012 Summer Olympics torch relay: See the remarkable celebrations in Midhurst, Chichester and Bognor Regis

Ten years ago, the rain was lashing down but the spirits were high as a remarkable summer of celebrations brought the Olympic torch through Midhurst, Chichester and Bognor Regis, en route from Portsmouth to Brighton.

By Elaine Hammond
Thursday, 14th July 2022, 12:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th July 2022, 1:09 pm

Thousands of people turned out on Monday, July 16, 2012, to watch the once-in-a-lifetime occasion and cheer on the local torchbearers as the international sporting symbol lifted the spirits on streets swimming in rain under a sullen sky. It was day 59 of the 70-day journey around the British Isles.

Hundreds gathered in Petworh Park and a roar went up as Sara Tremlett from West Chiltington came into view, on her way to hand over to Martin Vogt from Munich. The torch then continued its journey through a town lined with cheering crowds. From Midhurst to Easebourne and on to Tillington, the torch was lauded every step of the way.

The relay swift journey to Chichester, where local resident Anthony Stewart gave an emotional response to his key role as a torchbearer in the city. He said: "I don't think there are any words to describe how I am feeling. The whole sensation of the experience was just absolutely phenomenal."

In Bognor Regis, the conditions were some of the worse the town had seen in July, with torrential rain and strong winds, but crowds were as thick as six deep in the centre of the High Street as Olympic champion Sally Gunnell took her turn carrying the flame. On to Woodgate and Westergate, where the heavy rain failed to blight the historic moment as the flickering flame brightened the gloomy day. Sheila Howard, who was there with her grandson, said: "Today is about celebrating something fantastic."

Those lucky enough to be standing near a change-over, known as a kissing point, were given close-up views of the torch and the bearers were more than happy to pose for pictures. Torchbearer Kevin Byrne from Middleton had a bonus when the Woodgate railway crossing closed, giving him an extra three minutes with the treasured sporting symbol. He said: "The reception I got when I was running was excellent. Everyone was cheering."

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