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The Olympic flame burns bright across Yorkshire, as Jo Haywood discovers
The Olympic torch has come within ten miles of 95 per cent of the people in the UK, but only a lucky few have actually been within touching distance.
Among the 8,000 torchbearers who carried the iconic flame around the nation in a 70-day relay from May 19th to July 27th was Janet Baker, 33, from Leeds, who donned the now familiar white tracksuit to carry the torch to Harewood House, where she was met by Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice, eldest daughter of the Duke of York.
Janet was selected for the time and dedication she gives to charity fundraising. To date, she has raised more than 19,000. She arrived at Harewood on day two of the Yorkshire leg of the flames journey, led by a knight in 15th century armour seated on a stallion.
Children from 12 regional schools performed their responses to the Olympics with a selection of sport, dance and music. They also got to spend some time with Princess Beatrice, who made a beeline to greet them after their performance in front of the historic West Yorkshire house.
David Lascelles, the 8th Earl of Harewood, said: Were an educational charitable trust and we always try to involve children in our events, so it was especially good to see so many schools welcoming the torch and meeting Princess Beatrice.
For me, thats what the Olympics should be an inspiration to young people to enjoy themselves and find out what theyre capable of. I hope theyve all had a day to remember.
Torchbearers have carried the flame through more than 1,000 cities, towns and villages in the UK in the last two months. The convoy accompanying them every step of the way comprised 14 core vehicles, including a pilot car, torchbearer drop-off and pick-up shuttles, presenting partner vehicles, a media vehicle, a command car and security vehicles.
A crew of about 350 people has been working hard every day for 70 days to make sure each leg of the epic relay has gone to plan. Their dedication to duty has gone largely unnoticed, but theyve been more than happy to let the spotlight shine on the 8,000 torchbearers, each with their own Olympian tale to tell.
Among Yorkshires clutch of inspirational torchbearers were young people like Hannah Harris, 22, from Leeds, who was nominated for triumphing over adversity following the death of both her parents when she was just 13; Steven Tomlinson, 15, also from Leeds, who is carrying on the incredible fundraising started by his mother Jane, founder of the Jane Tomlinson Charity, which has raised more than 3 million in ten years; and George Stocker, 13, from Wetherby, who underwent 48 gruelling weeks of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008 and has since raised more than 50,000 for Candlelighters to help other children.
Former Yorkshire Olympians have also been tempted to lace up their trainers again, including Dorothy Hyman, 71, from Barnsley, who was one of the most successful sprinters in the world in her day, winning a silver and two bronzes at the Rome Games in 1960 and Tokyo in 1964; and, of course, Sebastian Coe, who proudly held the flame aloft in Sheffield, where he trained with Hallamshire Harriers as a teenager, going on to strike gold at both the 1980 and 1984 Olympics.
Did you see the Olympic torch as it made its way through Yorkshire? Share your experiences by emailing email@example.com, tweeting @Yorkshire_life or writing to Yorkshire Life, PO Box 163 Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 9AG.
The London Olympic torch was designed by east Londoners Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby and put into production by engineers and manufacturers from Basildon, Birmingham and Coventry.
It is made up of an inner and outer aluminium alloy skin, held in place by a cast top piece and base, perforated by 8,000 circles, representing each of the inspirational torchbearers.
The circles also help to ensure heat is quickly dissipated, without being conducted down the handle, and provide extra grip.
The torch, which is 800mm high and weighs 800 grams, was tested at BMWs climatic testing facility in Munich to ensure it could withstand the unpredictable British weather. Which turned out to be a rather good idea.