THOUSANDS lined the streets of Portsmouth this morning to catch a glimpse of the Olympic torch.
Children from schools across the city and guests made sure they were bright-eyed and bushy tailed as they packed into Fratton Park for early morning entertainment.
They braved wet conditions to enjoy an impressive medley of songs from Portsmouth Voices before Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Frank Jonas addressed the crowd.
92-year-old John Jenkins was the first to carry the flame as he jogged out of the stadium to huge applause.
The torch made its way to April Hornsey, who collected the torch at the Pompey Study Centre, before John Ayton, still suffering the affects of a punctured lung, was the next to receive the iconic flame.
Gareth Ferguson ran with the torch from Fratton Road, before passing it on to John Barnes.
Franck Aragnou travelled with his family from Moret Sur Loing in France to take up the role, and passed on the baton to Victoria Berridge-Brown in Kingston Road.
Waterlooville’s Bronwin Carter received the torch in Kingston Road and was met by Mark Jago.
Pompey hero Linvoy Primus was also a proud recipient of the torch after he was given the opportunity by Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson.
Debora Baker, and her sons Lewis, 14, and Bradley, 12, witnessed the torch leave the stadium.
Mrs Baker said: ‘We all thought it was amazing. It was lovely to see the flame and it was nice to see what everyone got up early for the occasion.’
Deanne Lloyd brought her son Harrison, ten, along for the morning.
She said: ‘It’s good for Portsmouth, absolutely.
‘We enjoyed yesterday’s celebrations in Southsea, where we got to hold the torch.’
Portsmouth poet laureate Sam Cox said: ‘I was down on Southsea Common yesterday. It was an amazing event.
‘I was invited to write a poem which was performed by the New Theatre Royal Youth Group. It was a real honour.
‘The Olympics is about thinking about future generations and young people so the fact I had produced a poem for young people to interpret just felt right.’
Max Wallace, five, got up early to visit Fratton Park with sister Maisy, two, and Gill Wallace, 41. He said: ‘It was good. We saw the torch and we saw the policemen riding off first.’
Luca Daczo, seven, a pupil at Cumberland Infant School, said: ‘It was good to see the torch.’
Samm Hart, seven, saw the torch with fellow pupils from Westover Primary School. She saw her uncle carry a torch in Cornwall. Samm said: ‘We’ve had a good time.’
I’ve seen the torch three times. I saw it [in Southsea] as well.’
Jessica Vence-Gunstane, 11, from St Swithun’s Catholic Primary School, said: ‘The flame being lit on the torch was really exciting, a once in a lifetime experience. The atmosphere was really good.’
Fellow pupil George Ragg-Griffin, 10, said: ‘ I had a brilliant time. I recorded all the songs and the street dance. I also held the torch.’
April Hornsey, 16, of Winter Road, Southsea, was one of 10 people selected as a torch bearer today. She was nominated for her work with Pompey Sports and Education Foundation’s Respect programme.
April said: ‘It was amazing. It was overwhelming. My legs were like jelly to begin with, I had to shake them to stop it.
‘I got nominated by Julian Wadsworth from the Respect Programme. I do a lot of volunteering with them. I’ve been a member for five years.’