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Derbyshire’s Olympic welcome exceeded expectations

The number of local people who came to see the Olympic flame in Derbyshire has been described as “extraordinary” by the county’s Olympic legacy co-ordinator.

Around a quarter of a million people witnessed the iconic flame’s visit to the county.

Rory Slater, who helped organize the day said that seeing the huge crowds has been a highlight of his career.

He said: “It surpassed all expectations. Our biggest, overriding thought is to say a massive ‘thank-you’ to the people of Derby and Derbyshire for turning out in their tens of thousands.

“Even on an extremely wet Saturday morning, at 6.30am, there were in excess of 12,000 people lining the streets between the Market Place and the Royal Derby Hospital to wave the flame off.

“It was an extraordinary event and something that people can look back on in many years to come and say ‘I was there'”.

Mr Slater’s role as Derbyshire 2012 Legacy Coordinator is funded by local authorities. He believes that the Olympic torch has capture the public’s imagination.

He said: “They knew this was their opportunity to see an integral part of the Olympic Games come to where they live.

“The Olympic flame is an iconic element of the Games, as it is used to light the cauldron in London.

“People seemed to understand that.

“Not only was it fantastic to see so many people line the streets when the torch relay came, it was also absolutely wonderful to see 15,000 pupils in Derby take part in the Community Torch Relay, building up to the flame coming.

“Those pupils will remember that – and the day the Olympic torch came – for the rest of their lives.

“Hopefully it will inspire them to achieve great things in the years to come. It will certainly outlive my lifetime. People were saying it was among the best days of their lives.

“Certainly, for me, it was the most wonderful day of my working life and to be part of it was a great privilege.”

It was also a great day for local businesses, shops restaurants and hotels in Derby:”The feedback we’ve had from local businesses, hotels and shops is it was their best ever Friday in terms of business. That is really pleasing news in these challenging times.

“We need to carry on organising more events that can involve the whole community – days like Feste – as it is great for the people and great for the local economy.”

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