Winslow Town Council Olympic Torch Relay 2012
“Thanks for all the planning and preparation which went into Winslow’s involvement must go to many people and first among those should be Janine Beattie of Optimum Business Support and Clare Beach of Azura Events. The passage of the Olympic Torch Relay through Winslow was a huge success and we have heard from people on the support vehicles that it was one of the best turnouts on the whole route to date. Janine and Clare gave their time freely to support Winslow Town Council by organising street entertainment, liasing with the schools and local sports organisations and also volunteered to be Local Lead Stewards working with Bucks County Council and AVDC…You did Winslow Proud!”
Llew Monger, Mayor of Winslow, Buckinghamshire
“Winslow Town Council worked with Clare Beach of Azura Events recently to organise events incidental to the Olympic Torch Relay coming through town on Monday 9th July 2012. The brief was to ensure that the town, and in particular the school got the most out of this once in a lifetime opportunity. Clare and her colleague Janine Beattie of Optimum Business Support worked particularly with the School who were encouraged to host schools from the surrounding areas thereby hopefully reducing the traffic impact on the town – there were several logistics required here, not least the toilet requirements of up to 1,000 under 11year olds! and ensuring access to school for coaches. It was agreed that entertainment during the long wait for the torch would be key – Clare organised a drumming group and various other volunteer street entertainment – but with no street closure except for the torch itself to pass this could have proved a logistical nightmare. Council was keen to keep visitors in town to fully appreciate what Winslow has to offer and to ensure local traders received a much needed boost to footfall. Within the tight strictures of the Olympic Movement – no one, private, public or charity may benefit from use of the logo or key words so a sports and fitness fair was organised on the Market Square. Aylesbury Vale District Council (owners of the Square which is usually a car park) agreed to lose revenue for the day, local organisations were invited to attend and showcase their activities – football and tennis clubs and many others attended signing up new members and putting on displays before and after the torch itself passed by. Refreshments for the long wait were needed and so to fill in the gaps not provided for by local cafes and pubs, local coffee and ice cream vendors were brought in and strategically placed along the route.
Next came mementos – together we settled on school children attending local schools receiving a commemorative bookmark (IOC compliant of course!) – this was achieved through securing sponsorship from local businesses, and were delivered to the relevant schools, playgroups and residential homes for distribution before the end of term. Finally, decorating the town ready to welcome the torch… we were very fortunate to have been donated 2.8miles of bunting, hundreds of flags, tableware and other patriotic and symbolic goodies by a local party company Amscan. The donors, pubs and the usual organisers joined the committee in stringing the bunting and distributing the flags.
Every opportunity for publicity was considerately fed to local news editors, but it had to be exceptional to get any column inches – pub regulars up ladders with bunting and flags finally did the trick. In the final weeks of preparation Clare & Janine also took on the Local County Council Organising Committee role of Lead Stewards for Winslow, recruiting and briefing some 50 volunteers to keep the crowds informed and safe, ensure that traffic flowed until the torch arrived and provide/supervise off street parking. The day dawned and all was ready – despite the atrocious weather of previous weeks it was dry! but off street parking was to be scarce due to torrential rain the afternoon before – whilst putting up the final decorations of course! Volunteers all arrived on time and with enthusiasm, were briefed and even breakfasted thanks to Clare’s foresight – and were sent out at 8.30am to keep the streets safe. About 15 minutes before planned, crowds were such that Clare decided to implement the road closure and informed the county control room accordingly, the bells rang, the band marched, jugglers and acrobats performed for the crowds and then the police outriders arrived high fiving and heralding that the torch was imminent. It came and was gone in a flash, carried through town by 4 people – 3 from relatively nearby whose supporters were well located to capture the relevant handover/”kiss” points.
Children were given priority to return to school for picnic lunches under strategically placed gazebos and an afternoon of Olympic activities – including visits from the drummers and torchbearers – and the crowds followed the torch to the centre of town to exchange Torch stories and sample the activities on the Market Square. Lead Stewards Clare & Janine eventually stood the stewards down and headed off to Aylesbury for the County debrief – no time for them to enjoy the buzz they had created! For some weeks Council has been receiving positive feedback about the day (not one single complaint!) and the final paperwork has now been completed – all this really was achieved within budget thanks to the ingenuity and persuasive skills of the organising team.
Clare’s unflagging enthusiasm throughout the frustrations of officialdom and changing goalposts ensured that Winslow very definitely had a day to remember – recorded by her band of skilled photographers we now have the most wonderful electronic scrapbook to remind us just how much Winslow enjoyed the day that residents felt more proud than usual to say they live Winslow – the place that gave the best welcome to the Torch. AVDC Chairman Derek Isham, from Buckingham, reported to his next meeting that Winslow had really pulled out all the stops and put their larger neighbours Buckingham and Aylesbury in the shade.”
Bridget Bradford, Winslow Town Council, Buckinghamshire