EMMA HOLLINGWORTH: Torch day will stay with us

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I think my daughter and son have just had the most memorable experience ever of their lives – when they saw the Olympic torch travelling through the streets of Sheffield.

I had always been planning to try and get to see the torch as it made its way through the city but I was worried that I wouldn’t make it because of work commitments.

Then the worst rain for months began falling and I feared the worst.

The torch would be a wash out.

We would be the only place in the country where the flame went out and no one would turn out to see it.

Thank heavens that didn’t happen.

The sun shone and the people of Sheffield came out in force to see the legend of the flame for themselves. Me included.

And I am so glad I did.

In the run up to the day all I heard was people moaning about how they were sick of the Olympics already – even before it had even been.

But I knew that for my children this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for them to go to see something which they may never get a chance to do again.

Well, certainly not in this country.

I dashed madly home to pick up the gang and waited with them zipped into their coats and shoes at the back door for hubby to finally arrive home.

Thrusting the baby into his hands I said “We’re off.”

Another last minute change was ditching the car in favour of the bus after seeing the crowds start to throng down the road towards Hunters Bar.

And as last minute decisions go, that was one of my better ones, was as I would never have found anywhere to park.

Getting off the bus was hard enough as the crowds were at least ten deep as we arrived and there was still nearly an hour before the flame was due to pass that way.

However, the happy atmosphere and the good weather and the fact that the cars were no longer coming down one of the city’s busiest roads made those last few minutes fly past.

That and the fact there were freebies being given out which appealed greatly to my two children helped keep us all going as we waited with bated breath for the arrival of the relay.

And then when the police motorcyclists came past, giving the children high fives, they were all thrilled.

I think that was probably one of the highlights for my daughter.

The big buses filled with torchbearers and other famous faces as well as the ones carrying singers and bands also helped carry the carnival atmosphere.

We could hear the flame coming before it arrived as more and more people piled into the part of the road where we were standing, making the crowds the biggest I had ever seen.

They were clearly following the flame form the previous road it had just been down.

Suddenly a roar went up and I held my four-year-old up as high as I could so he could see the flame for himself.

And luckily he saw it – pointing it out to all the people in his excited way: “Here comes the fire mummy!”

The person running with it suddenly came into view – flanked by at least six burly officers in grey suits moving the crowd away from the torchbearer as he came running past.

Not one of us knew who he was but the cheer that went up for him was like something you would only usually hear at a rock concert.

He must have been elated with this reaction.

Then he was gone and the crowds slowly started to drift away back home, knowing the party was over, for now.

It did take at least an hour before the next bus came but this didn’t matter as the new friends my daughter had made while she was waiting helped while away that time.

Everyone was talking to each other as if we had all known each other for years.

We had all shared in something special and historic and we all knew it.

Even my eight-year-old knew it, saying to me as we went home: “This is something I will tell my children and grandchildren, isn’t it mummy?”

“Yes,” I agreed, “It most certainly will be.”

For more details and pictures of the flame as it made its way through Sheffield visit: welcometosheffield.co.uk