THE Olympic Torch Relay made its way through the city to Bletchley Park today on day 52 of the journey to London.
The torch travelled into Milton Keynes from Luton where today’s route was kicked off by British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.
The first torchbearer in the city was MK’s own Luke Webb, who accepted the torch just after 8.30am on the H6 Childs Way. He then had the honour of passing the torch over to badminton Olympic gold medallist Gail Emms.
He said: “It was amazing – the security was pushing people back, getting me through the crowds, it was brilliant.
“I was shocked to see so many people. Because I was running the first leg, I didn’t expect many people would be there to cheer me on, but it was incredible. There were so many faces in the crowd.”
The torch then made its way along Silbury Boulevard and through the main city centre where it was carried by city man Allan Grainger before it made it’s way to the historic site of Bletchley Park.
Jessica Stalley, from Bedford, made her way into the world renowned site at around 9am.
She said: “It was so exciting to run into Bletchley Park and see all the people. The kids absolutely loved it. I used to swim for a club in Bedford before I had to have an operation on my back in 2009 and it stopped me from doing it.
“But I went back and volunteered with the club and got my teaching qualifications. My gran nominated me for my work there. I’m so honoured to have been picked to do this.”
She then passed the torch over to city resident Hazel Staten who in turn ‘kissed’ the flame over to another Milton Keynes based runner in Sean Vendy.
City VIPs turned out on the morning to support torchbearers and they were excited and proud the torch had visited Milton Keynes.
Leader of Milton Keynes Council, Andrew Geary, said: “It’s a fantastic day for the city. It has been three years of hard work from the previous administration and another year from the current one to bring the Torch here to Milton Keynes. We don’t know how many people have come out to watch, but when I parked up early this morning, the car parks around the Civic Offices were absolutely packed.
“People joke about Milton Keynes not having any history. We’re stood outside Bletchley Park – those people are very wrong.”
Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South, said: “This event has brought the whole city together, even early on a Monday morning, and it is doubly special to have it come to Bletchley Park.
“I was so excited when it came past. This is the sort of thing that happens once in a lifetime. I remember when the Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee and came to my town, and this is another one of those memories.”
Mark Lancaster, MP for Milton Keynes North, added: “It’s not often you get to see something like this. It is one of the few occasions that the adults were making more noise than the children – we’re just as excited as they were to see the Olympic Torch come past.
“It’s fantastic for the city, and it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of it.
“I have tickets to the 800 metre men’s finals at the Olympic Stadium so I’m looking forward to that, and I’ll be watching a lot on television... when I’m not dealing with the concerns of my constituents of course.”
Crowds who turned out to watch the torch were equally excited.
Tuesday Pask, from Bletchley, said: “It’s really exciting. It’s the first time it has come to Milton Keynes so it’s good to see a lot of people here. My school is starting later today so that we could all come out and see it.”
Leanne Taylor, from MK College, said: “It’s brilliant for it to come here – there’s a real sense of togetherness at the moment. It’s really important for the history of Bletchley Park to be officially recognised, and for the people of Milton Keynes to be represented.”
Bob Horner, from Leighton Buzzard, works at Bletchley Park. He said: “The Olympics has history dating back thousands of years and it’s iconic. Bletchley Park is iconic in modern history, so it is great to see the two united.”
And Georgie Horner added: “It is a fantastic time for the whole country, with the Diamond Jubilee, Wimbledon and now the Olympics just around the corner. It’s a great moment for the children, who will remember it for the rest of their lives.”