London 2012: 85,000 people watched Barking and Dagenham Olympic Torch Relay
Around 85,000 people watched and cheered as the Olympic Flame passed through a gloriously sunny Barking and Dagenham.
Entering the borough at Barking Park just before 10am on Sunday, the torch was carried on the historic miniature light railway before being passed over to the next torch bearer – Paul Freedman MBE – at the “kissing point” near the Longbridge Road main entrance of the park.
Jubilant visitors of all ages cheered on as the Hornchurch pensioner and marathon runner passed them, flanked by the London 2012 convoy.
The moment was given a fitting tribute by Barking Samba band Ripple Escola de Samba who performed an electrifying set of dance and drumming after the flame had passed through the park.
The relay continued in Lodge Avenue and Porters Avenue before joining the colourful Town Show carnival parade at the corner of Hedgemans Road.
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One of the torchbearers Dilip Roy, 70, spoke to the Post after running along Hedgemans Road. He said: “I’m lost for words. I can’t believe I was part of this – it was the most incredible experience. The support I got was amazing. I’ll always remember this.”
Mr Roy, of West Ham, was nominated after spearheading a project to build the first Hindu temple in Mile End.
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After Hedgemans Road the torch made its way to the Dagenham Town Show in Central Park, where the Flame was handed to Dagenham street dance crew Diversity.
The Britain’s Got Talent winners ran through an enthusiastic crowd, ending their leg at the Town Show stage.
Here the torch remained for a short lunch break before being carried out of the grounds, along Whalebone Lane South, before leaving the borough at London Road.
In total more than 30 people carried the Olympic Flame through the borough.
Juanita Dias, 38, travelled from Ongar in Essex and said: “It was absolutely brilliant. I’m so glad we came to watch the Flame – the borough has put on such a good show.
“My seven-year-old son Dylan actually got to hold one of the torches. It made his day.”
Linda Rhodes, librarian at Valence House Local Archives and Studies Centre, watched the torch at Heathway. She said: “The atmosphere was fantastic. There were so many people and everyone was cheering the Flame on. It really was a very special and memorable occasion.”
n Visit www.bdpost.co.uk to see picture galleries from the torch relay and Town Show.