Well, what was I thinking of? I had missed the opportunity recently to mention the fact that I, Richard McCann was excepted to carry the Olympic Torch. I can’t begin to tell you what that was like.
Actually iCan. It was amazing. From initially being accepted I was thrilled but nothing compared me with what occurred on 24th June in my home town of Leeds. I don’t usually write lengthy blogs but it was a special occasion so I bought I would tell you a little bit about it.
We were invited the the civic reception at Leeds Town Hall a couple of weeks earlier and we (thats me, my wife and Children) arrived fashionably late. It didn’t matter because as we arrived the official photographer was leaving and asked if we could stand with the torch as a family for a picture. Of course we would. You know me by now. It was the first time that I held one of the torched and it was fantastic. The picture was great especially to have my wife and children in the shot.
After a few words from some of the torch bearers and officials we were taken outside and asked to line up on the steps of Leeds Town Hall.
I’m the one with Ginger Hair. The pieces of paper each of us held was so that the photographers could identify us. They took a picture with us holding the pieces of paper and then asked us to drop them and took the picture again.
There were so many others each of whom had their own inspirational story to tell.
Two weeks later was the big day. I arrived alone at the pick up point with the others and met Wenlock, one of the mascots. We were greeted by the lovely team who would guide us through the process. We were checked in, given our number and shown a DVD about what to expect. I was getting excited by now. As we were being briefed I was aware that the torch was over in Ilkley before it was shipped over to Leeds for us to do our 300m stint.
Here we are making our way to the bus. You can’t see me so stop trying to find me. I’m at the back taking the picture.
When we got the the bus and car which was going to escort us to the start of the proceedings in Leeds we were greeted by a sight for sore eyes. 18 Torches lined up ready to be carried and looking quite majestical.
Wow. Now things were getting serious. This was beginning to hit home. We were going to carry the Olympic Torch. One that began it’s journey In Greece as few months earlier.
Whilst being escorted by the police we were each asked to stand up and say a few words about who we were. I was first. Well I was to be the first torchbearer in Leeds, which was thrilled at, so up I got. It was amazing as we drove through the streets seeing everyone beginning to line the streets. A few onlookers realised who we were and were taking pictures.
And then finally we arrived at the start. The crowds were amazing and far bigger than I had anticipated. I stepped off the bus and took a picture as we waited for the torch to make its way from Ilkley by coach.The tension was building and my sister Donna showed her face at the side of the bus. Great. I thought. At least some of the family are here. Then I spotted my father which I was thrilled at. He looked so pleased to see me there and I was him.
And then I was asked to get off the bus and wait for the lantern with the flame to make its way to where I was. The buys with the other torch bearers left me and then something incredible happened. People were rushing up to me to get a picture with me and the torch. Mums were pouncing on me and pushing their children towards me to have a picture taken. It was a bit overwhelming If i’m honest. Then someone came to ask if I would do a bit of a parade with the unlit torch as many of them couldn’t see the torch. I agreed to do a short run in a circle where we were. Luckily it was a t a cross roads so I could do a small loop but the crowds were closing in on me. Then before I knew it the bus arrived full of Met Police officers who had the flame safely contained in a lantern. You can see what happened next in this short video of the start of my 300m.
It was incredible.
The little kick that you saw there appeared in the local newspaper as a double spread picture and eventually on the Hello Magazine website.
As I carried out my torch bearing I couldn’t see my family anywhere. I ran at a very slow pace trying to see them but they were nowhere. The officer running alongside me asked me to speed things up but I pleased with him as I had not seen my family. As I got to the end of my stint he asked how he could spot them. I knew Helen my wife had made a poster saying ‘Run Daddy’ which I told him about. Thankfully he spotted it and I ran over to them, full of pride, and almost in tears as I saw the delight in the eyes of my three children.
It’s a day and an experience that I shall not forget whilst I am on this planet. I was incredibly proud of being involved and my torch experience was in memory of my mother Wilma McCann and her desperately missed daughter and my incredible sister, Sonia. RIP