Southsea Common packed as the cauldron is lit with the Olympic Flame

BUSY The evening celebrations at Southsea Common. Picture: Malcolm Wells (122387-5830)
BUSY The evening celebrations at Southsea Common. Picture: Malcolm Wells (122387-5830)

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PEOPLE were waving flags, wearing hats and sporting medals as the Olympic torch came through Portsmouth.

Hundreds of people crammed into Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, yesterday, to see the flame.

Build up for the event started at 5pm with radio DJ Paul Bunker warming up the crowd.

Live performances also entertained the crowds, from acts including Southzone Dance Academy and the Portsmouth Branch of the British Bangladeshi Cultural Academy.

Shelina Richardson, 40, came along with her husband Tony, 46, and their two children Tia, seven, and Keira, three.

They had come over from Chaplains Avenue, Cowplain, to see the torch.

Sheila said: ‘This is the first opportunity we had to see the torch, especially as it wasn’t coming through Havant.

‘Tia had been studying the Olympics in school and done a project on it so she really wanted to come and see the torch. The atmosphere was amazing and there were so many people – it was wonderful.’

Tia said: ‘We have done a project on athletics and the Olympics so I was excited to see the torch closer.’

The Olympic flame was brought in by Simon Coutaud, 29, of Portsmouth.

It was passed on to Margaret Hyde, 63, from Stubbington.

The crowd let out a jubilant cheer as the flames ‘kissed’.

A special ‘red carpet’ had been painted in front of the steps to the Guildhall as a guide for the torchbearers to run down.

Jill Lovett, 66, of Wendover Road, Havant, said: ‘It was worth the wait to see the torch as it was absolutely fantastic.

‘The whole build-up was very good with the music and dancing. Portsmouth always does very well with coming together like this and the crowd was enthusiastic about it all.’

And Tim Hunt, 54, of Cross Way, Havant, came along with his daughters Katie, 16, and Abbie, 11.

He said: ‘It was amazing. We got here two hours earlier to make sure we were at the front. The wait was worthwhile as it’s something I won’t be seeing again in my lifetime.

‘I took lots of pictures and enjoyed the entertainment. The girls had a great time too.’

From there the torch went down Landport Terrace, King’s Terrace and Duisburg Way, before getting to its final destination – Southsea Common.

Around 65,000 people packed out the common, who were entertained by pop duo Rizzle Kicks and dance act Twist and Pulse.