Crowds flock to Canary Wharf for torch relay

By Rob Virtue on August 29, 2012 7:18 PM |

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Canary Wharf was awash with colour and full of cheers as Paralymic torchbearers made their way around the estate on Wednesday evening.

Although the relay faced a delay of nearly two hours, crowds of supporters and well-wishers lined the North and South Colonnades support for the individuals, grouped in teams of five, who were chosen to carry the aluminium torch.

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Mum Diane Coates talked of her excitement as her daughter, Joanna, a sports disability officer in Cardiff, carried the flame on the opening stint past Westferry Circus and Cabot Square.

The 40-year-old was nominated for her work in helping to set up a sledge hockey club in the Welsh capital, coaching basketball for children and also training others to perform her role.

"We have travelled up by train this morning and we have been wandering around trying to find the right spot," said Diane.

"We are very excited and she's really excited too - she had her hair dyed bright red for today."

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Andrea Johnstone, from the Australian Paralympic committee, was one of many yellow-clad supporters who lined the route to cheer Joanna on.

The committee met Joanna during a recent trip to Cardiff, when the Welsh resident helped with some training.

"We're cheering her and waving flags and bunting, just so she knows we have come to support her," she added.

Little Molly Coia, five and mum Sophie, 25, were following Sophie's grandmother Jane, as she too carried the flame for the Federation of Disabled Sport in Wales.

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"It was good and we had to run to chase up after it," said Sophie.

"My mother-in-law was nervous, but excited, and it has been great. It's good the rain held off too."

Spectator Emma Coope, 30, from Manchester, said she was determined to get a good spot in Canary Wharf to watch the torch relay, after missing out on seeing the Olympic Flame earlier this year.

"I just love a parade, I get quite emotional," she said. "I'm a bit of a soppy one when that kind of parade is going on.

"The Olympics was impressive and fantastic but when you have got to overcome something more than just training to be an athlete, I think that's what makes it all the more special."

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And Stoke-on-Trent-based torchbearer Trudi Beswick, CEO of Caudwell Children, was one of a team of five from the children's charity who completed the final stint in Canary Wharf, carrying the flame back to its starting point at Westferry Circus.

"It's just amazing and such a fantastic atmosphere," she said.

"Everybody is smiling and we are all in a team carrying the flame, we've been calling ourselves Team 109 all day.

"It's just such a special occasion to see people with disabilities inspiring the rest of the nation, and I think that's what they are going to do in the next two weeks."

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On its way to Canary Wharf, the torch arrived at Masthouse Pier at the south of the Isle of Dogs on the ship Havengore from Cutty Sark.

It then made its way up the Island where crowds there also lined the streets to wave it through.

Torchbearers then carried the flame under the DLR before heading to Westferry to begin the tour through Canary Wharf.

The Paralympic flame then made its way out of the Wharf, to continue its journey to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, where the opening ceremony will be held this evening.

Words by Beth Allcock

1 Comments

lesley Davison said:

WAS SO VERY PROUD TO BE A PART OF THE CROWD AT THE TORCH RELAY WHEN IT CAME INTO CANARY WHARF... TOOK SOME FAB PHOTOS AND WILL REMEMBER THIS ALWAYS.....