Leicester’s official Flame Celebrations for the Paralympic Games, the international sporting competition featuring disabled athletes, took place at this afternoon at Humberstone Gate. The city is just one of 33 communities across the UK that will host celebrations as part of the London 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay.
From 11 am onwards a packed programme of events took place to celebrate the occasion including displays by the Hinckley Gymnastics Club, Black Eagles Acrobats and Desi Masti Dance.
Many stalls lined the city streets including the Change 4 Life stand which was there to promote an active lifestyle and healthy eating.
Baljit Smith from Change 4 Life said:
“We are trying to get more people to become fitter and healthier through everyday activities. If people fill in our questionnaire they will receive a freebie gift bag which is full of healthy recipes, summer packs for children and games, all simple ideas to help people to lead a healthy life. We’ve also got people on exercise bikes to see how far they can peddle within 30 seconds, lots of fun stuff. We’ve had lots of people come along to our stall today. The atmosphere has been fantastic”.
At 1.30 pm huge crowds gathered to watch Leicester’s inspirational flame ambassador 18 year old Paige Murray lead a parade from Gallowtree Gate to the stage in front of the BBC Big Screen on Humberstone Gate.
Paige, who has cerebral palsy, has devoted much of her free time to highlighting the experience of disabled youngsters through a range of activities and projects such as the Streetvibe Youth Inclusion Project and Braunstone’s Youth Panel. In 2010 Paige received the Honoured Citizen Award from the Lord Mayor in acknowledgement of her achievements, she said:
“Today has been really hard to describe but it was very exciting and quite an overwhelming experience. I was very surprised by the sheer volume of people that came along. I’m really looking forward to Paralympic Games. I’ll be attending the swimming and the wheelchair basketball, I can’t wait”.
Once Paige reached Humberstone Gate she presented to the torch Deputy City Mayor Rory Palmer, he said:
“This is a unique and special occasion for Leicester. We are delighted to be the only city in the East Midlands, one of 33 nationally to host a Paralympic flame event. Today a celebration our city’s long commitment to disability sport. We hope that today’s event will illustrate the power of the games and inspire a new generation of people across the region”.
This year’s Paralympic Games take place between August 29 – September 9th