The Olympic Torch in Sandwell
Published on 30th June 2012
The Olympic Flame has come to Sandwell - travelling through Oldbury, West Bromwich and Smethwick on its way to the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Thousands of people lined the route today (Saturday 30 June) to cheer along 16 inspirational torchbearers as they carried the Flame.
Council leader Councillor Darren Cooper hailed the day as "momentous for the borough".
Arriving in Oldbury just before 5.55pm, the torch was greeted by roars from the crowd gathered in Oldbury Civic Square. Many had stayed on from the Armed Forces Day event earlier in the afternoon. You can see photos from the Armed Forces Day event.
The torch was first carried in Halesowen Street, Oldbury, by South African John Ovis, aged 35, who helps impoverished communities with basic amenities.
He handed the torch over to TV and radio celebrity and fundraiser Kate Lawler, aged 32, by the Big House in Church Street and she carried it onto Bromford Road.
Heading towards West Bromwich, the torch was carried by Birmingham's 24-year-old Jonathan Brittle, who has overcome serious physical disabilities to achieve and help others; Doug Chamberlain, aged 55 from Coventry, who is an amazing ambassador for people with a learning disability; and Matt Bridge, aged 35 from Birmingham, who is an inspirational lecturer in sports coaching.
Athlete Adele Lassu, aged 22 from Birmingham, took the torch past Sandwell College, where there was a One World Day cultural event with music and food from around the world.
And Jessica Gripton, aged 81 from Cradley Heath, who has dedicated years to local tennis and swimming clubs, carried it on West Bromwich High Street, where the Guru Har Rai Gurdwara, West Bromwich, served free food prepared by the temple to people lining the street.
On its leg through Smethwick, the torch was greeted by many thousands of people, a large number of whom had been at the Birmingham & Sandwell Mela and Olympic Torch Celebration in Victoria Park which attracted around 55,000 to 60,000 people.
The Mela also saw a new world record set for bhangra and giddha dancing as part of the Lawk Naach Cultural Olympiad programme, with 1,500 people dancing together.
Along Smethwick High Street, the Flame was carried by Team GB squad captain Kristian Thomas, aged 23, from Wolverhampton; Benjamin Lee; Peter Moss, aged 19 from Birmingham, who works to protect the local environment and run holiday schemes for young people; and Dave Waldron, aged 28 from Birmingham, who is a fundraiser and nurser working with young people.
Oldbury's Juanita Williams, aged 51, who grew up in Smethwick and raises money for charity through her cycling challenges, carried the torch for the last Sandwell leg along Cape Hill, handing the torch over to Birmingham just before 7pm along the Dudley Road, where an Irish pipe band played along.
Councillor Cooper said: "I haven't seen as many people on Smethwick High Street since the Queen's Silver Jubilee over 30 years ago - and the atmosphere was incredible.
"What a fantastic day - and thank you to everyone for making it such a proud moment for Sandwell."
Residents and businesses along the route helped to keep the roads clear of parked cars to enable the torch to pass through safely and smoothly.
Over 150 volunteers as well as many staff from the council and other partners gave up their time to help out at events.
And community groups and places of worship all got involved.
Several inspirational Sandwell residents carried the torch in other areas today too - Ron Nicholls, from Yew Tree, in Willenhall; Ravendar Bangar, from Wednesbury in Willenhall; Lewis Leone, from Rowley Regis, in Wolverhampton; Dennis Sanders, from Great Barr, in Dudley; and Jodie Stimpson, from Oldbury, in Birmingham. You can read their stories at our torchbearers web page.
Councillor Cooper added: "We are proud of all these Sandwell residents who are ambassadors for the borough and richly deserved their 'moment to shine'."