Witnesham: ‘Alternative’ torch relay tours six villages

ORGANISERS of an “alternative” Olympic torch relay around six Suffolk villages have said the event was a runaway success.

Just under 200 people took part in the event, which involved Witnesham, Otley, Swilland, Tuddenham, Westerfield and Ashbocking.

The relay started and finished at the Barley Mow pub in Witnesham and used two genuine torches leant to organisers by runner from the Suffolk and Norfolk leg of the official relay on Thursday.

Organiser Steve Henley said they day had been “absolutely brilliant”.

He said: “The weather stayed good for us. Through a number of villages the crowds came out to cheer the runners on.

“We had all sorts, from an 87-year-old to a three-year-old running. Parents with babies, a man in a wheelchair, groups of families and friends.

“The key to the day was enjoyment and participation and, perhaps more than anything, a real feeling of inter village togetherness.

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“There were moments on the relay when problems arose but they were overcome with runners willing to step in and do another lap. From the 205 runners signed up we had only eight no shows, not bad.”

Runners were awarded with medals for their efforts, presented by Ipswich Town hero Roger Osborne, brother of Barley Mow landlord Les. The medals were kindly donated by Roger Leeke, another of the organisers.

As well as the Barley Mow, the run took in stops at the Crockery barn in Ashbocking, the White Hart pub in Otley, the Moon and Mushroom in Swilland and then the Fountain in Tuddenham. Further stops were at the Swan and Railway pubs in Westerfield and Fynn Valley Golf Club. At each stop people posed with the official torches for photographs. An evening event was also held at the Barley Mow with live music.

Mr Henley added: “We just want to say a massive thank you to all the runners who made the day such a wonderful success.”

The event will also boost East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), with the total amount raised from the collection buckets still to be calculated.

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