It was miles of smiles as the Olympic Torch arrived in Fareham

PATRIOTIC Crowds watching from balconies along the A32 Gosport Road. (122398-8565)
PATRIOTIC Crowds watching from balconies along the A32 Gosport Road. (122398-8565)
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THE Olympic torch relay had begun in our region a few minutes earlier than planned when Kim Hosier stepped off the bus at East Street in Fareham.

The flame had been brought in a lantern from its last stop in Jersey, and was carried carefully over to light Kim’s torch, at 4.25pm.

The 52-year-old from Portsmouth said: ‘I had such a fantastic day and it was great being the first person to start it all off for this stage.

‘I got to meet so many other interesting people on the bus, and being able to watch everyone. As one of the others said: “It was miles of smiles”.

‘Just everybody waving, everybody out and lots of parties going on. It felt like a huge community event.’

Earlier in the afternoon, Fareham’s Westbury Manor Museum had opened a special Olympic exhibition, and there was a community parade, led by the mayor of Fareham, Cllr Dennis Steadman. Scouts, sports clubs and community groups marched through the town centre in front of the huge crowds.

Cllr Steadman said: ‘The crowds were six, seven, eight deep in places and cheering everybody on.

‘The cheers of those people was absolutely fantastic, it was such an unbelievable feeling. It made me feel very humble, it was an honour and a privilege.

‘It was all so happy and relaxed, and the people were so responsive.

‘I was pleasantly surprised by how many people turned up, it definitely ran into the thousands and thousands.’

Pavements were completely packed as the torch headed up towards West Street.

Among those in the crowd were Ian and Lynda Hardwick, of Warsash with granddaughter Alesha Bryant, 11.

Mrs Bryant said: ‘It just brought all the community together – it is something really special.’

John Hayward, 40, of Whiteley, was there with partner Davina Stander and son Kaeden Stander, nine. He said: ‘There was a good atmosphere and it was great to see so many people coming along.’

From the town centre, it headed towards Bridgemary and Gosport on the A32.

Cathy Holc-Thomson, of Leigh Park, took the torch with her walker down A32. The 45-year-old said: ‘I can’t believe I held the torch, it’s mindblowing. I couldn’t hold it all of the way, but I did do the kiss at the beginning and the end. I’m never usually lost for words, but I’ve run out of superlatives.’