The Olympic Flame briefly visited Eastleighyesterday having taken off and landed at Southampton Airport on its way to and from the Channel Islands on-board the special liveried British Airways Airbus A319 ‘The Fireﬂy’.
Celebrations at the airport involved pupils from nearby Bitteme Park School, Eastleigh College catering students, Eastleigh based athletes and award winning airport staff.
Airport Managing Director, Dave Lees, commented,
“lt’s a great honour to be involved in the Torch Relay and to be able to host such a warm welcome from the local community here at the airport”
The ﬂame was waved off early on Sunday morning by 23 young athletes from Eastleigh, many of them hopefuls for the games in Rio de Janeiro 2016.
On its return later in the afternoon, 2012 Paralympic athletes Adam and David Knott joined fellow athletes and lined up at the airport steps along with the Mayor of Eastleigh Councillor, Cllr Rupert Kyrle, and the Mayor of Southampton Cllr Derek Burke. Also present were airport staff who over the last year have won internal al awards for customer service, innovation and charity work.
As the aircraft taxied towards the flag waving crowd of welcoming dignitaries and young athletes, two of the airport’s fire tenders used their water canons to create an arch of water by way of a salute.
Cheers an applause broke out as an LOCOG official stepped off the plane carrying the flame in a safety lantern.
The Mayor of Eastleigh Councillor Rupert Kyrle said:
“lt’s a great honour and a once in a lifetime opportunity for myself and our local Paralympic and Olympic athletes to welcome the Olympic ﬂame back into the borough from the Channel lslands. We are all hoping that our local athletes have a great and successful games this summer.”
After the flame departure from the airport, to resume the Torch Relay in Fareham and Portsmouth, guests enjoyed a special ﬂame cake baked by former Eastleigh College student Margaret Helliwell, who runs her own speciality cake business from her home in Chandler’s Ford.
Union jack cupcakes which had been baked by current Eastleigh College catering students were assembled into a giant Union Jack and and music was provided by students from Bitteme Park School who performed a song they had penned themselves to celebrate the olympics entitled ‘You have got to fight for the Gold.
Headteacher Susan Trigger, visibily bristled with pride as she told Eastleigh News how the students had won a national competition with the song.
Passengers disembarking aircraft seemed surprised to find themselves being greeted by a band and by airport staff offering cupcakes.
Eastleigh College, Course Lecturer, Rob Strachan, commented:
‘The students and staff are very excited to be involved today. We are very proud to see the students showcase their abilities for such a prestigious occasion. A lot of thought, planning and preparation has been required from them and it’s great to see their skills put to the test like this!”
Sally Lynskey. CEO of Business Solent said:
“It is a fantastic opportunity for Southampton Airport and the region to be involved in such a momentous occasion. The Olympic Torch relay is a once in a lifetime event and it is a great honour that Southampton Airport and the Solent region has been able to witness it over the past few days.’
A Union jack signed by all the young athletes present will be sent on to the GB Olympic Team to wish them good luck in the games.
Listen to Bitterne Parks School’s specially composed Olympic song.
Read Ray Tuner on Lord Coe’s travelling circus
Photos: © Eastleigh News 2012