Crowds welcome Paralympic torch relay as it visits Capital

Crowds go wild as XFactor winner Joe McElderry performs
Crowds go wild as XFactor winner Joe McElderry performs
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MORE than four thousand people turned out for the “Flame Festival” at Meadowbank Sports Centre which welcomed the torch relay for the Paralympic Games as it visited the Capital.

The highlight of the festival saw a lantern procession where 200 children and their families lined the route for eight torchbearers to carry the torch into the event.

Martin Dougan lights the caldron at Meadowbank

Martin Dougan lights the caldron at Meadowbank

A crowd also gathered to hear the Pulse of the Place Samba band alongside Sing in the City and the Edinburgh Signing Choir as they performed.

Well-wishers from across the country, some planning to travel to London to watch the Games when it gets underway on Wednesday, gathered to celebrate.

Julia Twist, 41, attended last night’s event with her 12-year-old son Jack, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair. The pair, decked out in Union Jack hats and flags, waited to pose with a Paralympic torch.

The full-time carer said: “I’m astounded so many people have turned out. It’s great to see the Paralympics given such great support in Edinburgh.

“Myself and Jack are really excited because we’re travelling down to 
London on September 4. We got the chance from the Muscle Help Foundation, which is a charity which makes dreams come true for people with muscular dystrophy. We’re going to see the athletics in the morning then the wheelchair rugby in the afternoon.

“Jack plays wheelchair football and loves sport so we’re very happy to get the chance to go there in person.”

Teresa Robertson, 40, travelled from Glasgow with her seven-year-old daughter Ellie to watch the ceremony.

Ellie was just two years old when she suffered complications from heart surgery which left her paraplegic.

Mrs Robertson, a full-time mother, said: “My daughter uses a wheelchair and crutches so we’re hoping that the Paralympic Games can inspire her. She loves horse-riding and wants to get into wheelchair basketball. We’re hoping if she sees all the athletes competing she will be encouraged to do that.”

Earlier in the day, a cauldron was lit on the Mound as part of the torch relay. The cauldron was ignited using a flame created by a team of Scouts on the 
summit of Ben Nevis.

The flame also visited the Sick Kids Hospital.

The honour of lighting the cauldron fell to Rosie Smith, from Glasgow, who was nominated by Capability Scotland. She led their first Ben Nevis event which involved disabled and non-disabled people working together in teams to conquer the UK’s highest peak.

One of those who went to see the cauldron being lit was Paralympic gold medal winning swimmer Maggie McEleny who said it was “amazing”.

She said: “We’re learning more about the athletes. They train as hard, sometimes harder.

Sebastian Coe, chairman of Locog (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games), said: “Created at the summit of Ben Nevis, the Flame is an achievement of human endeavour, something every Paralympian represents.”