Gallery: Thousands turn out to see Paralympic Flame at Needham Market

THOUSANDS of people descended on Needham Market yesterday to welcome the Paralympic Flame to Suffolk.

The celebration, at Needham Lake, allowed youngsters to try out a variety of Paralympic sports including wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.

The flame had travelled from London and earlier in the day a ceremonial cauldron was lit in Trafalgar Square to mark the arrival of the Games.

The torch will be carried 92 miles by 580 torch-bearers across the UK, working in teams of five, to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford where it will be used to light the cauldron at Wednesday’s opening ceremony.

The torch was taken to Needham Market by Amy Nettleton, 26, a disabled artist from nearby Great Finborough, who was also commissioned by Suffolk County Council to design three sports-inspired benches.

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She said: “It’s been fantastic for Needham Market as the central town in mid-Suffolk. It’s a real honour and it’s really exciting as people have worked hard for the event to take place.”

The fun day, which also included arts and crafts and musical and creative workshops, ended in a carnival procession and the torch relay, led by Brian Alldis, a Paralympian athlete from Bury St Edmunds. He said: “It’s a great honour just to be near the flame – it’s amazing and exciting.”

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Also taking part in the 2km procession around the town was the Rwandan Paralympic team, who have been based in Bury for the past two weeks.

Jeanmarie Nsengiyumva, the coach of their sitting volleyball team, said: “It’s been fantastic and my first time in Suffolk. We have been lucky with the weather, the sun was here – not too cloudy, not too hot.”

A spectacular fireworks show at the lake closed the day. The event, which was in part organised by councils at town, district and county level even saw Charlie Adan, chief executive for Mid Suffolk District Council, mucking in as one of the parking attendants.

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