6:17pm Monday 9th July 2012
By Simon Moss
FOR most people, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime event – and next Wednes-day, July 11, history will be made, and seen, in Basingstoke as the Olympic Torch passes through the town.
It is hoped that hundreds of people will line the streets to cheer on the lucky few torchbearers who will carry the famous flame, which was lit from the sun’s rays in Mount Olympus, in Greece.
One of those chosen few who get to carry the flame during its 21-minute journey will be 81-year-old Margie Doherty, from Abbey Road, Popley, Basingstoke.
She and the other torchbearers will be following in the footsteps of Bill Plester, the then 21-year-old athlete who carried the torch through the town the last time London hosted the Olympics in the summer of 1948.
For Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council leader Councillor Clive Sanders, July 11, 2012 will be another proud day in the history of the town and borough.
Cllr Sanders said: “It will be a truly memorable day for Basingstoke, and I hope as many people as possible come out to share this special moment.”
The Olympic flame is coming to Basingstoke on day 54 of the 70-day trip across Britain, and months of careful planning has been undertaken to ensure as many people as possible can enjoy the landmark moment.
Staff at Phillips Solicitors will have a fine view from their offices at Town Gate, in London Road, as the torch will pass right outside.
Howard Gardener, director at Phillips Solicitors, told The Gazette: “Having the torch relay pass through Basingstoke is simply brilliant for our town and businesses.
“It is not just about sport. It is also good for the arts, tourism our environment and a very good reason to bring communities together in celebration.
“Phillips is in a great position at Town Gate to see the whole event and our members of staff will certainly be waving our flags on July 11.”
Anyone wishing to watch the torch relays is being advised to prepare for all weather conditions on the day, as well as bringing water and snacks if they plan to arrive early.
People with dogs are also being asked not to bring them along, while parents are requested not to bring buggies and pushchairs unless absolutely necessary.
The event will lead to some road closures. Winchester Road will be completely closed between Pittard Road and the Winchester Road Roundabout from 9am to 2pm, while a westbound one-way system will operate between Winton Square and Penrith Road during the same hours.
All other roads will remain open for traffic but motorists travelling around these areas are being advised to proceed with caution.
As the torch actually passes along the route, police and stewards will stop traffic at key junctions and side roads, which could lead to stationary traffic for 10 to 15 minutes. However, it is expected that traffic disruption will clear by 2pm.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council street teams will be out along the torch route in high-visibility jackets, and other event management teams will also be on hand to offer advice and information as the torch passes through the town.
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