THE Olympic Flame arrived on Journal and Gazette soil this week when Queensferry’s John Beaton carried the torch to Hopetoun House on Wednesday.
Prior to its arrival around 4.45pm, hundreds of schoolchildren across West Lothian and Queensferry took part in games, races and musical entertainment in a carnival atmosphere at Hopetoun House.
Pupils ran the Eric Liddell one mile race and made Olympic torches and, ahead of the flame, horse drawn carriages and three-day eventing stars Ian Stark and Lucinda Green rode up to the Hopetoun forecourt before the torch arrived in all its splendour just before 5pm.
Torchbearer John said: “The atmosphere was electric and it was great that I knew so many faces in the crowd.
‘‘It was an honour to be involved and it was so special, it is something I will remember all my life.”
John will continue his Olympic dream next month as a Gamesmaker in London.
Mary Eagers of Trinlaymire Farm on the Hopetoun House estate had one of her own horses ridden by equestrian Lucinda Green and she said: “It’s so exciting and such a lovely day. We spent a lot of time getting the horses ready but it was worth it.”
Pupils from Echline Primary could hardly wait to see the Olympic flame as they gathered on Hopetoun’s drive.
Adam Burke (11) said: “I’m really excited - it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Hannah Baillie (12) added: “It’s amazing. It feels quite important to be here.”
Calum King (11) said: “It’s different to other torches. It’s great to have the Olympics in London and I’ll be watching it on TV.”
Bernardene Coyle, pupil support worker at Holy Family Primary in Winchburgh, said: “It’s great to be part of the whole event.”
Pupil Derek Sly (11) said: “This is the first time we have seen it and we can tell our grandchildren about it.”
And Charlotte Borthwick (10) said the whole day of games had been great fun.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Torch passed through Falkirk, where groups of Bo’ness and Blackness schoolchildren witnessed the event and took part in activities at Falkirk Stadium.
Matthew Duncan (12) cheered with his Blackness Primary friends as the torch appeared, saying: “It was exhilarating, exciting and just really fun.”
The torch then headed to Fife where Linlithgow’s Andrew Slack carried the torch through Dunfermline and Queensferry’s community champion Joyce Faulkner carried the torch for 300 metres through Crossford before it made the journey back over the Forth.
She said: “It was a marvellous experience. I couldn’t believe how many people turned out. Their enthusiasm was infectious. This is a day I won’t forget in a hurry.”
On leaving Hopetoun, the torch went to a 12,000-strong street party in Broxburn then made its way to Edinburgh, where Linlithgow’s Sarah Williamson and Claire Tattersall of Bo’ness carried the flame on its route to Edinburgh Castle.
Craig Hannah of Bo’ness ran a relay leg in Glasgow on Friday and as did Linlithgow’s Beth Macleod on the Isle of Lewis. Craig, who rubbed shoulders with actor James McAvoy, Olympic curler Rhona Martin and cyclist Danny MacAskill, described his day as “phenomenal”.
See P19 for pictures of this momentous occasion.