Proud flag day for Lochwinnoch
SMILING youngsters waved flags from countries around the world as they paraded through the centre of Lochwinnoch.
The Stars and Stripes of America fluttered alongside the French Tricolour and Japan’s Circle of the Sun.
The banners of Brazil, Germany and the rest of the 204 nations that will take part in the Olympics were all there as the Lochwinnoch Primary schoolkids put on a flag day to remember.
It was their very own Opening Ceremony ahead of the main attraction that had drawn a huge 9,000 crowd to the village.
But ask any of the people who were there to see the Olympic Torch Relay light up Lochwinnoch and they will tell you it’s the red, white and blue of the Union Jack they hope to see being hoisted above the medal podium when this summer’s Games kick-off in London.
Olympic fever well and truly gripped Renfrewshire as yesterday’s fun-filled event proved to be a smash hit.
And, if our athletes can match the enthusiasm shown by those who turned out yesterday, Team GB is destined for another gold rush.
With the crowds almost five deep at some points along the way, pupils grasped home-made torches and mini-Union Jacks.
They stood side by side with OAPs and proud parents who were busily snapping away with digital cameras as they sought keep-sake mementos of an historic day.
The bunting used to help celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was given a second outing as the village’s main thoroughfare was draped in colour.
Many of the youngsters lining the streets sported plastic cagoules but thankfully, apart from a bit of early drizzle, there was no rain to dampen the spirits – or the torch!
Pipe bands added to the noise of the day but they had to crank their musical offerings up a notch as they struggled to match the volume created by hundreds of excited schoolkids.
And the cheers grew louder as Johnstone teenager Natalie Still strode down the High Street, proudly hoisting the blazing torch.
The flame had made its big entrance shortly after 2pm, when it was handed to 56-year-old Janice Hendrie, from Greenock.
She then sealed Natalie’s big moment with a ‘torch kiss’ as she handed over control.
The third torchbearer was Jennifer Sundqvist, 27, from Sweden, who passed it on to Vegard Sjursen, 27, from Norway, before the Lochwinnoch leg of the relay moved on to Kilmacolm.
Renfrewshire Provost Anne Hall unveiled a commemorative plaque at the McKillop Institute after the relay left Lochwinnoch.
She said: “The local community will remember this day forever. The crowds that turned out had a fantastic time and thoroughly enjoyed the street entertainment.
“It was a wonderful spectacle for those watching in Lochwinnoch, across Britain and the world, via the web.
“My congratulations go to Natalie Still on what must have been a very proud moment as she carried the flame through her area and to the other torchbearers who travelled here to help make this an unforgettable day.”
Among the massive crowd were 3,300 Renfrewshire schoolkids who were all given the afternoon off from lessons to join in the fun.
Before the Olympic Torch Relay arrived, the big crowd enjoyed entertainment from Johnstone Pipe Band, Johnstone Band, the Sudden Impact dance group, the Plastic Beats drumming group, Wallace Primary School Choir, Big Rory and Ochie the Dog and other attractions, including jugglers, balloon-makers, stilt-walkers and unicyclists.
Provost Hall added: “I’d like to thank the local community and everyone else who took part in or helped to organise what proved to be a very special day for Lochwinnoch and Renfrewshire as a whole.”