Having lobbied Lord Coe personally for the Torch Relay to come to North Dorset when the planning began back in November 2010, Bob Walter was delighted to be invited to take part in the Mayor of Shaftesbury’s Torch Relay reception at the Town Hall.
Bob joined crowds of supporters lining the High Street to watch the local parade, which was led by the Town Silver Band. Bob then had the honour of receiving the Vancouver Games Olympic Torch from 1978 Torch Bearer Lisa Bevis outside the Town Hall, alongside Mayor of Shaftesbury, Cllr Simon Pritchard, former Olympian Anthony Nunn and new Olympian Hannah Biggs, who arrived in style, on horseback, with the Beijing Olympic Torch.
The official London 2012 Olympic Torch arrived in Shaftesbury just after 9.30am and took a tour of the town, with Torch Bearer Alan Surtees MBE, Cycling Advisor to the Duke of Edinburgh Award, carrying the flame up the iconic Gold Hill. Alan was awarded his MBE for Services to Cycling and Young People and has also been Cycling's ‘Volunteer of the Year’.
Many local people will also be going along to support Shaftesbury’s own David Taylor and Viv Budd as they carry the London 2012 torch through Hamworthy and Branksome on 13 July, as it makes its way along the south coast of Dorset to its Bournemouth stop-over.
North Dorset hosted the Olympic torch on day 54 of its 70-day journey around the UK. It travelled from the hill top town of Shaftesbury, passing through the villages of Fontmell Magna, Iwerne Minster and Stourpaine on the A350, before arriving at the market town of Blandford Forum just after 11am. The flame then headed South West along the A345 through the villages of Winterborne Whitechurch and Milborne St Andrew, also in Bob’s constituency, before making its way down via Dorchester to Dorset’s famous Jurassic Coast.
After the event Bob commented:
“I am thrilled that communities in North Dorset got the opportunity to participate in the Torch Relay first hand. It was great to see so many people turn out to support its arrival today and thankfully the rain stayed away in Shaftesbury and Blandford.
“My sincere thanks go once again to all of those involved – local community groups, schools and local authorities – who have worked so hard to create this fantastic and memorable event.
“London 2012 is our chance to showcase Dorset to the rest of the world and I have absolutely no doubt that all visitors to the county will be given a very warm Olympic welcome, just like the Torch itself.”