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Olympic Torch Relay: Crowds flock to cheer on their heroes in Christchurch
HOME-town hero Jacqui Seymour was the star of the show as the Olympic Torch relay bandwagon rolled into Christchurch on Saturday.
Teacher Jacqui, 27, was supported by most of her class from St Mark’s School, Highcliffe, as she took her turn as runner starting outside the Mayor’s parlour in the High Street.
As she waited, Jacqui hugged and posed for photos with the youngsters and also with fiancé Sam Fuller, before setting off.
With tears in her eyes she said: “I am very emotional and very excited.”
Mum Gerri, from Mudeford said: “This a really amazing day.
“We are all so proud of her.”
Jacqui took over from Patricia Harris who jogged into the centre of town to huge cheers.
Around 7,000 people packed the High Street with more along Barrack Road as the torch finished its swing through Dorset and carried on through Hampshire on Day 57.
Locals began taking up position by the side of the road as early as 7am.
Maureen and David Thirkhill from Highcliffe stopped their camper van in a nearby car park and had breakfast inside before bagging their spot.
David said: “We’re not going to see this again in our lifetime so it was something not to be missed.”
Among the well wishers were Catherine and Stephen Lea of Highcliffe with Ben, six, and Ava, three. The children came with homemade torches.
Catherine said: “Ben is in Miss Seymour’s class and we wanted to be here to support her.”
Ben added: “I am really looking forward to seeing her.”
There was a carnival atmosphere as the rain held off.
The band of the Christchurch Royal British Legion played some stirring numbers to help the party go with a swing.
Mayor Cllr Peter Hall, who addressed the crowd from the balcony of the parlour described it as a fantastic day for the Priory town.
“It will go down in our history as a momentous occasion.”
He said Christchurch was the only ancient borough on the torch route. The runners in the Christchurch section of the relay included Anne Nugent of Ringwood, Caron Rogers and Pat Harris, both of Bournemouth.
All our coverage and pictures at bournemouthecho.co.uk/torchrelay