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Thousands welcome Olympic Torch to Keighley
Crowds turned out in their thousands this afternoon to welcome the Olympic Torch to Keighley.
People were stood several deep along the route, cheering and applauding as the Torch Relay made its way through the town.
The flame set off at about 3.40pm and made its way along South Street - from the Worth Way junction - Bridge Street, High Street, North Street and Skipton Road.
The three torchbearers - Catherine Bull, Jerry Ward and Rodger Davies - each carried it for about 300 metres, urged on by enthusiastic flag-waving townspeople and visitors.
The trio was accompanied by a convoy including police vehicles, buses and a command car, preceded by three lorries representing official Olympic sponsors Coca-Cola, Samsung and Lloyds TSB.
The route was marshalled by Keighley Scout Service Team.
Among the crowd was Joan Ward, who had travelled from North Yorkshire with her husband and grandchildren to be there.
“We missed the relay when it was at York and we’ve got friends in Keighley so we thought we’d come down today to see it - there’s a fantastic atmosphere,” she said.
“It’s something we won’t see again in our lifetime.”
Michelle Cooper was there with her two young children. “I’ve watched the torch on the television and wanted to see it for real,” she said. “It was really good, we’ve had a great time.”
Several activities were held in the town to celebrate the torch’s arrival.
As the relay passed the Shared Church, the bells were rung, and members of several denominations combined for an event on Church Green.There was a free barbecue - which attracted a massive queue - sports and games, live music and craft activities.
And at 4pm there was an Olympic themed service.
Organiser Derek Walmsley, vicar of St Mark's at Utley, said: "It's great that the torch came to Keighley. We saw this as an opportunity to be at the heart of the community and this event was our gift to the town. The town council provided some funding and the churches have done the rest, especially all the volunteers needed to make the day successful.
“It’s been a fantastic afternoon.”
Keighley Town Council staged entertainment in Town Hall Square, where two bands - Foxes Faux and Night Patrol - performed. There were also jugglers and a stilt walker around the town.
And in the square behind the bus station, singers, dancers and other entertainers performed.
Also, budding entreprenuers were able to take a table in the Airedale Shopping Centre to display their products and services alongside 50 other businesses and organisations.
They are all working together to get young Keighley people back to work under the Our Town, Our Future, Our Voice initiative, a partnership led by Bradford Council.
Keighley town mayor Councillor George Metcalf praised people for turning out in such numbers along the route and said he was hugely proud.
“The weather is great and so many residents have come along to give their support - I am proud of them and proud to be mayor in this special year,” he said.
* For a full report and more photos, see next week's Keighley News