Cracknell and Olympic torch put Hook on the map
1:19pm Tuesday 24th July 2012 in News
Hundreds of people gathered at the Hook Centre to watch double Olympic gold medal winner James Cracknell start the torch relay.
Crowds began to line the barriers on Hook Road from 7am as the hour long build up to the day began.
Children from the Kingston Youth Concert band performed musical pieces to get spectators in the mood.
They were followed by the 30-strong Thames Youth Choir who sang their hearts out to a specially commissioned Olympic anthem.
Gareth Barmaby, 25, of Curtis Road, Chessington, who got a front row view said: "I got here at 7am. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Barbara Connors, 80, of Roebuck Road in Chessington said: "I am very excited - I am 80 and I have never seen the torch before and I will never see the torch again."
Former Olympic rower and the first torchbearer James Cracknell, a former Kingston Grammar School boy, appeared with the torch and the crowd was buzzing as he held up the lit flame.
He said: "We can really feel the excitement here. So many people have turned up enthusiastic at 7am - you don't really get to feel all this as an athlete. It's not often I get to run in double o one."
Sporting fan Josephine Campbell who is in her 80s said she was not too bothered about seeing the torch as long as she got a glimpse of Mr Cracknell.
Kingston MP Edward Davey also took time-out of his busy schedule to see the torch-off at the Hook Centre before he rushed off to Whitehall.
Born Too Soon founder Pauline Woods who was in crowd, said "After seeing it all on television for days it is pretty marvellous to have the torch here in Hook.
"I am surprised that so many people have turned up."
Councillor Margaret Thompson echoed her thoughts and said: "Hook was mentioned in the Domesday book. It has since led a quiet life.
"This is probably the biggest thing to ever happen in Hook."
The Hook Centre first opened its doors in January 2007 and this was its first major event.
Mayor Mary Heathcote who presented each torchbearer with a torchpin badge, said: "It has been a privilege to meet all the runners - they have all done something amazing for their communities.
"Even though they are not all from the royal borough they all deserve to be recognised."