Olympian Paul Evans to kick start Olympic torch route around West Norfolk tomorrow

Residents of West Norfolk are limbering up ready to carry the 1948 Olympic torch which will be on a 170-mile journey around the borough this weekend.

The 1948 Torch Trail, organised by the West Norfolk Sports Council to bring communities together to celebrate the jubilee year, will begin and end at Lynnsport.

Leaving the King’s Lynn leisure centre at 9.15 am tomorrow, the torch will go on to pass through 80 of the area’s towns and villages before returning to Lynn three days later.

They include Snettisham, Heacham, Hunstanton, Docking, North Creake, the Massinghams, Marham, Barton Bendish, Methwold, Feltwell, Southery, Wimbotsham, Nordelph, Upwell, Marshland and the Walpoles.

Former Olympian Paul Evans and Ray Harding, chief executive of West Norfolk council, will be the first to carry the torch.

Some 170 torchbearers on foot and cycle will then carry the torch over the four-day event. These people, who range in age from 14 to 98, have been nominated by their local communities.

Mr Evans, who ran the 10,000m track final at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and 1996 Atlanta Olympics, said: “The Olympics start in six weeks time and there won’t be too many people from here going down to London to watch the action but this is bringing the Olympics to West Norfolk and is really kick starting a summer of great sport.”

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Event organiser Paul Brandon has been delighted by the interest in the event.

“The response has been fantastic. I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed so much time and effort to putting together such a fun-packed programme of events.”

Among those carrying the torch are 98-year-old Winnifred Smith and 14-year-old Joe Long, both from Old Hunstanton.

Mrs Smith, who has 12 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and three great great grandchildren, will carry the torch in her wheelchair and be assisted by David Shaw. Joe Shaw, a pupil at Smithdon, is the joint-youngest with Jack Easter from West Acre.

West Norfolk council cabinet member Elizabeth Nockolds will carry the torch on the second leg.

“I am really looking forward to being part of the trail and think it will be a fantastic way for local people to get involved in celebrating Olympic year,” she said.

Sixteen villages on the route will be holding special sports taster sessions, where people can try a range of sports for free. The taster sessions are being organised by Active Norfolk.

Ellen Vanlint, from Active Norfolk, said: “All the activities planned in West Norfolk sound fantastic. It’s great we are able to deliver Village Games roadshows along the route to help celebrate the occasion. I’m sure it’ll be a really fun-filled and exciting few days”.

The Stoke Association is also supporting the initiative and is inviting people to take part in sponsored events over the extended holiday weekend.

The events will raise money for the Stroke Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Stroke Association.

Look out for the next edition of London Calling, a free monthly guide to the Games, which will appear in the EDP on Tuesday, June 26.

To see previous Olympic-related stories click on the London Calling logo on the top of this page.