On Tuesday Bexhill welcomed the Olympic Torch on the 60th day of the Torch relay around the country. Despite horrible weather weeks and days before, Tuesday was dry, warmish and most of the day was sunny. It was also very windy but we cannot expect miracles, as this is Britain after all!
The Museum had a Torch Cafe event going on in the Education Room from 2pm-7pm organised by my bezzie mate http://sutleress.blogspot.co.uk/. There was also a showing of a local oral history film at 4pm which featured interviews and photos with local people involved in sport. This film was part of the Museum's big exhibition for this year on Bexhill Sporting Heritage. The cafe was extremely successful and there were not many cakes and savouries left by the end and more importantly a decent amount of money in the donations box!
At 5.08pm we were told the Torch had arrived in Bexhill at Little Common following its journey from Eastbourne. As we wanted the volunteers to see the Torch go past as well as all our visitors the cafe was going to be shut for a short while when the Torch passed by. However in the end it was kept open by some willing helpers! The Torch was due to go along West Parade and pass by the Clock Tower at approximately 5.25pm. This was perfect for the Museum as it is situated just behind it so was very close by for getting a decent spot to watch the Torch go by without having to queue for hours! We gathered the various people and children together and went and took our spot next to the Clock Tower. This turned out to be a perfect spot to stand and provided an ideal place to watch everything.
Firstly we watched some guys on stilts who were doing jumps and various tricks as well as giving out Lloyds TSB streamers to kids (and some adults!) to wave. Lloyds is one of the official sponsors of the relay. This was then followed by a coach which stopped in front of where we were standing and out came one of the Torch bearers with her Torch in hand! She came and stood where we were standing and began to pose for photos. It turns out she was waiting for the flame to be passed to her so we were actually going to see the change over happening in front of us! While the coach doors were open we also saw the next Torch Bearer waiting to be dropped off who just happened to be Eddie Izzard who is our Museum Patron so that was very exciting and we got a wave from him! The coach then moved off. The poor woman with the Torch started to get a bit swamped by people trying to pose with her for photos and trying to touch the Torch!. She was very good about it all and happily posed for photos with the kids and let them touch the bottom of the Torch.
Then it was time for more official sponsors to parade past, so cue a huge lorry with Samsung emblazoned on it and a huge TV screen on the side blaring out some noisy film or advert. The kids were not impressed and a friend's son even commented it would be better if the screen was playing something decent like Dr Who! I have to agree that would have been very cool! Next was another huge lorry from Coca Cola that had a live band on it and an annoyingly positive person with a microphone who was getting the crowd to cheer things etc. They were also giving out Coca Cola drums to the kids which went down well. Kids do like something to make a noise with! Although confession time I did find myself holding one at one point and couldn't resist making some noise with it, which I think proves what a kid I am! As well as this parade there were also lots of police offers on bikes and in cars who were joining in with the spirit of the day while keeping some order!
Finally the crowd started to get very excited as the Torch had turned the corner onto West Parade and was making its way along to the next Torch Bearer. The atmosphere was fantastic and impossible not to get swept up in it. As predicted the guy stopped in front of us and started to transfer the flame to the next Torch Bearer's torch. This has been called "kissing" by the media so we got to see the Torch kiss! Then when the flame had been passed on the new Torch Bearer raised it proudly into the air receiving almighty cheers from the crowd. After a brief photo pose she was off jogging to the next Torch Bearer who just happened to be Eddie Izzard who had the honour of taking the Torch past the De La Warr Pavilion. Meanwhile the other Torch Bearer was picked up by another coach who was bringing up the rear of the parade.
It was a fantastic experience and I am really pleased I made the effort to go and see it as it really is a historic occasion. It is very unlikely that the Olympics will be in London again in my lifetime and even if it is there is no guarantee the Torch relay will come to Bexhill again. The atmosphere was really buzzing and it was great to share it with friends as well. Superb day!