So it’s a warm, sunny Monday lunch time and I’m sat in Old No.7 supping on a pint of porter and having a ham sandwich watching the Market Hill line itself with hundreds of people.
It’s rare you see so many people in town. I think the last time I saw so many, was when Barnsley was in the premiership. Of course, along with the throngs of people, events like this also bring out those taking the opportunity to sell tat (cheap flags and inflatable torches) and gym membership!
All kinds were out; parents and toddlers, classes of school children, old folk, students… it was nice to see everyone coming together. Workers were even hanging out of shop windows hoping to get a glimpse of the torch.
I secured a place directly outside the war memorial at the Town Hall. To me immediate right was the major, a few people from the Newham Barnsley Partnership and the council along with folk from The Civic. In front of us was a load of young junior school kids holding banners and singing pop hits and chanting.
At the top of the steps were two big confetti cannons, which I assumed would go off when the torch-bearer passed the Town Hall. You could hear the crowd’s roar get loud and move up the street like an audio mexican wave. First you had police cars and motorcycles, then an Olympic bus telling you the torch was six minutes away, then buses emblazoned with sponsor’s logo throwing inflatables out into the crowd and then eventually came the torch bearers and the now recognisable people who accompany the bearer; security guards in leggings!
Unless you are at a point where the torch changes hands, it’s all very brief and over within a flash …and it was. The confetti cannons went to about 30 seconds too late but the atmosphere was amazing. The relay made its way up to Barnsley College where it was to have a short break and I made my way up Huddersfield Road / Woodstock Road, where I would watch again with my mum, brother and nephew.
This time we got a much better view and also to see the changeover, which was great. We were near Wilthorpe School, so you can imagine the excited oozing from those school kids. A wonderful day.
We have an interview with one of Barnsley’s torch-bearers, local musician and arts and health worker, Hayley Youell. You can read that interview in full here.