WITH Suffolk bearers running as far apart as Spalding and Chelmsford, many faced an early start.
But the sheer exhilaration buoyed them up through the day.
Holly Sheffield, 12, from Brandon, had to be in Spalding by 7.15am, but what she remembers most about the day is the big cheer she got from the crowd. Screens on leading vehicle named each bearer and Holly said: “They’re shouting out your name, it was amazing.
“My school couldn’t get there because it was too early, but all my family were there.”
In fact, several generations of her family were there, from her brothers to her great grandmother, plus uncles and aunts.
Back at Methwold High School her friends watched on television and the internet.
A friend gave Martin Rice a lift from Bury to Chelmsford on Saturday, leaving at 3am because, having had four operations for brain tumours, he cannot drive. But he said: “It was absolutely fantastic. It was a day in your life to mark down.
“We were warming up outside the university at about quarter to seven and there were so many people there. From then on it was just wonderful. I can’t thank everyone enough.”
His brother Norman travelled from Dorset with his wife Avril to see Martin do his bit.
Any nerves torch bearers had soon disappeared. Debbie Cadman, 48, from Needham Market, also ran on Thursday but in Wrentham. She admitted: “I’ve been having nightmares – I thought, it’s going to go out, I’ll miss the bus, drop it, all those sorts of things.
“But it was a fantastic day from start to finish. It was a wonderful atmosphere with people smiling everywhere and so much pride and respect for the Torch. I could see friends and family in the crowd.”
Claire Scarff, 44, from Feltwell, has recently been treated for skin cancer on her face and was self-conscious about it, but soon forgot that with the torch in her hands in Haverhill on Saturday.
She had planned to do it in her mobility scooter, but a mix up meant there was only one torch bracket available for two scooter users, so Locog provided a wheelchair pushed by a policeman.
“It meant I could hold the torch and wave and not have to look at where I was going,” said Claire.
It meant she had time to see the banners the Scout troops she runs in Feltwell had made and to wave to family and friends.Mina Welsh, from Bury, ran in Kelsale, near Saxmundham, on Thursday and admitted: “I was hyper and over excited, waving at the crowd. It felt absolutely awesome.”
There were so many people at the start in Newmarket on Saturday that Andy McGowan had to begin his run 150m early. The same happened next day when he took his torch into Bury McDonald’s, where he is a shift manager, to raise money for the McDonald House Charities. “We planned to start at 2pm but had to start early because the queue went down the stairs and out the door,” he said. He raised £161.
Ryan Tutthill, 15, from Bury, a member of the Barbarian Explorer Scout unit, also ran in Haverhill. He said: “I wouldn’t have believed that this would happen to me it was amazing really, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Ravenwood Hotel owner Craig Jarvis carried the Torch in Southwold on Thursday, only two days after arriving home from a charity motorbike trek across the Himalayas. He said he was proud of taking part and delighted with the warm welcome the bearers received.