Plea for Olympic torch to visit Hastings sports college

A LETTER has been sent to the Secretary of State for Culture and Sport emploring him to allow the Olympic torch to be diverted to William Parker College during its visit to Hastings this summer.

The borough council has written to Jeremy Hunt asking him to intervene with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The letter asks that the famous symbol of the games be brought to the college for a few minutes as part of the annual town sports event on Wednesday July 18.

Hundreds of primary school children take part in the event and it is hoped a visit by the torch team would inspire everyone competing and provide them with an unforgettable experience.

At a recent meeting of the full council, a motion was brought by councillor John Hodges to write to Mr Hunt.

The move was seconded by councillor Peter Finch and unanimously approved by the 31 members present.

Thousands of people are expected to descend on the town centre on Tuesday July 17 when the torch arrives at the Stade for a special evening of celebration.

A Torch task force is currently busy preparing what is expected to be the biggest party ever staged in the town as the sympbol stays overnight before moving on towards the capital for the start of the biggest show on earth.

Cllr Hodge’s motion read: “This intervention should take the form of a request that the torch on its return from an early morning photo opportunity on July 18, is diverted for a few minutes to the William Parker Sports College. This will allow the young people of Hastings and St Leonards who will be gathered there for the annual town sports to be included in this once in a lifetime occasion.

“Many of these young people come from the most deprived parts of our town and this could be their only opportunity to be part of these celebrations.

“We as a council fully recognise the absolute need for the adherence to schedules and the observence of security procedures but feel that these essential requirements should not distract from the real opportunities to express the Olympic ideal.

“We sincerely believe the Olympic Games are all about sport, our young people, and the inclusion of all races, creeds, and those vastly differing backgrounds and that our request would allow those ideals to be better expressed within our town.”

And MP Amber Rudd lent her support to the plea during a debate in the House of Commons on Monday (February 27).

She asked Sports Minister Hugh Robertson whether a slight diversion to the route could be made to include a stop at William Parker on the morning of July 18 so that children attending the Town Sports event could see it.

The minister responded saying: “I will look into the question of the William Parker sports college. The problem is that, since the torch relay route was announced, she is about the 15th or 16th Member to press me to divert it just a tiny distance to take in some well-meaning group or other. I will look into her request.”

Afterwards, Ms Russ said:“I am delighted that the Olympic Torch will spend the night in Hastings and that local people will be able to come together to celebrate the countdown to the Olympics. I am hoping that the Minister will be able to intervene on the Torch route so that it includes a visit to William Parker Sports College.”