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North Devon goes wild for the Olympic Torch



[Wednesday 23 May 2012]

Photo - Jonathan Edwards entering Ilfracombe rugby club

Thousands of people lined the streets yesterday (Monday 21 May) to cheer on the Olympic Torch and the inspiring Torchbearers through North Devon.

There was a great turnout in every community the Torch passed through, with massive crowds gathering on The Strand in Barnstaple and also in Ilfracombe, where Olympian Jonathan Edwards returned to his hometown to carry the Torch to the rugby club.

Local ward member for Fremington, Councillor Frank Biederman, was also well supported in Sticklepath, when he carried the Torch at the start of its journey through North Devon. Frank says: "It was an amazing experience and it was so brilliant to share the moment with family and friends and all the children from Fremington and Sticklepath schools, who were there to cheer me on. I was running for all the people of Fremington who have been involved, in so many ways, in the community projects and events in our village."

The day featured widely on both local and national media, in what is hoped will be a fantastic boost for the area's reputation and economy.

North Devon Council spent months planning for the big day, with its main responsibility being managing crowds in the district.

Council leader, Councillor Brian Greenslade, who was cheering the Torch on at The Strand, says: "Yesterday really couldn't have gone much better for North Devon - the sun was shining and the streets were packed, with about 8,000 people thought to be on The Square, The Strand and North Walk alone. Many thanks to all those involved with the preparations and, of course, to the thousands who gave the Torch such a fantastic North Devon welcome."

Executive Member for Culture, Councillor Derrick Spear, who shared the fantastic experience in Braunton, says: "What an amazing day! There was a brilliant turnout across the district and an overwhelming feeling of pride and community spirit. It was such an honour to host the Olympic Torch in North Devon and really satisfying to see all the preparations that the council has made over the past few months come to such an amazing climax."

North Devon Council's London2012 webpage saw almost 3,000 unique hits in the week leading up to the big day, with most web visitors checking out the times and locations of the Torch as it passed through the district.

The council also used social media to cover North Devon's Olympic Torch Relay, tweeting every step of the Flame's journey in real-time, so that followers on Twitter could track progress and get a sense of anticipation as the Torch drew closer.

Jonathan Edwards was also tweeting. Yesterday he said: "I'm an emotional wreck - amazing day. Roots matter!" and "it was an amazing few hours - love Ilfracombe!"

See a round-up of the day in photos, tweets and videos, on Storify. Add your own photos to the council's Flickr group.

Follow North Devon Council on Twitter or join the council's sports and leisure group on Facebook.
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