Flame takes off for northern tour

Flame takes off for northern tour

Torchbearer Matthew Cox carries the Olympic Flame on the torch relay leg through Lerwick

Torchbearer Andrea Strachan carrying the Olympic Flame on the torch relay leg through Lerwick

Torchbearer Faye Richardson lights the cauldron with the Olympic Flame following the torch relay leg through Lerwick

Torchbearers Andrew Sinclair and Louis MacKinnon pose with the Olympic Flame in John O'Groats, Scotland

First published in National News © by

The Olympic Flame visited its most northern destination as it continued its tour of the UK.

The torch reached the Orkney and Shetland islands as it travelled by land, boat and plane.

The relay covered just under 30 miles on the ground, but involved three flights, first to Kirkwall in Orkney, then on to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, and finally to Stornoway in the Western Isles.

Inga Kemp, 22, from Orkney, was the first of 20 Orkney torchbearers, chosen for their contributions to sport and their communities. She was chosen due to her involvement in the local development of netball and hockey and started the relay in front of the medieval St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, to cheers from large crowds.

Torchbearers who followed her included Sean Mcfedries, 24, who has Down's Syndrome. He represented Orkney last year at the Commonwealth Games in India as part of the youth group that took part in the handover ceremony, and is a volunteer in the local community.

The visit to Orkney concluded with a free open air concert, and the final torchbearer, William Sichel, 58, from Sanday, lit the Orkney Cauldron. The ultra distance running record holder at world, British and Scottish level, was nominated for Orkney's Citizen of the Year award in 2006 and 2007. He completed his sporting achievements despite previously having had cancer.

Around 90 local children performed a specially commissioned song marking the visit, which they wrote with local musicians Brian Cromarty and Douglas Montgomery.

The torch then began its journey to the Shetland Islands, arriving in the town of Lerwick. It was carried by a further 20 torchbearers including Zoe Buchanan, 16, who won a gold medal for badminton and four other medals at the British Transplant Games in Belfast in 2011, 17 months after having a transplant operation where her mother donated a kidney.

The torch was also taken across Clickimin Loch by boat by Matthew Cox, 42, from Shetland, before making a visit to the town's community festival, and then leaving by helicopter.

It was then lit at John O'Groats by two torchbearers, Andrew Sinclair and Louis MacKinnon, both 18, as they were cheered on by a large crowd. The torch was flown to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.

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