Legacy of the Olympic Torch in Sunderland

Torchbearer 037 Claire Paczko kisses her Torch as she carries the Olympic Flame on the Torch Relay leg between Whitburn and Sunderland.
Torchbearer 037 Claire Paczko kisses her Torch as she carries the Olympic Flame on the Torch Relay leg between Whitburn and Sunderland.
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IT WAS the day the city came together to revel in its own piece of Olympic glory.

One year ago tomorrow, the Olympic Torch was held aloft as it made its way through Wearside.

Arriving in the city early on a Saturday morning, 23 lucky torchbearers carried the flame from Whitburn, through the city centre and into Herrington Country Park for a day of festivities.

Thousands lined the relay route to cheer the torch on before it made its way south to Durham.

Claire Paczko, 32, (pictured) was nominated to carry the torch for her work with charities across the North East, in particular Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Crisis and St Oswald’s Hospice.

The day was a life-changing experience for Claire, who says interest in her Olympic Flame has barely diminished.

“I’ve been into a few schools and I went into supermarkets too, people donated to have their picture taken with the torch,” she said. “People were queueing for ages for it, I’m sure their frozen goods were all ruined.

“The torch is still alive and well and people still get excited about holding it and being close to it, both grown adults and children.

“It brings people joy and that’s part of the legacy for me. The whole day was completely overwhelming and no one could prepare me for how it felt.

“For just a few minutes, to be the only person in the world carrying the flame is a feeling I doubt will ever be replicated for me and it’s something I’ll hold on to dearly.”

Another with similar reflections on last Summer is Kaye Dixon, who was nominated to carry the flame in recognition of her work in the community as a football referee as well her fund-raising efforts on behalf of ABF The Soldier’s Charity.

“It’s been a busy year,” said the 34-year-old. “I’ve done a few schools and I’ve also done a big summer fair in Silksworth, so people could get their pictures with it and donate money.

“My kid’s football team have all had pictures with it too, they were all over the moon about it.

“I still get asked now if I can take it to all sorts of places.

“The amount of people out on Chester Road was unbelievable and to be recognised in that was great, it’s nice to be given something back.”