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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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The torch can light up region

So a funny looking torch is being carried round Cumbria for a few days in the build-up to the Olympic Games. So what?

Big deal!

So?

It is a big deal.

It is something we should get behind and support.

More than 50 Cumbrians from the north and west of the county will have the honour of carrying the Olympic torch through the streets of Cumbria on June 20 and 21.

These are people of all ages and all backgrounds and they rightly look on their selection as an honour.

It is so easy to knock something, to say all those millions spent turning waste land in the east of London into another sports stadium could have been spent across the nation on hospitals, schools, keeping petrol prices down and people in work.

And there is no doubt that this summer’s event will have a knock-on effect on the economy in the rest of the country.

It is the London Olympics.

All the kudos and tourism money will be swallowed up by the south and south east part of the country.

And that is likely to have a knock-on effect on our tourist businesses this year.

But if we manage to pull off what should be a spectacular event, it could be the springboard for a surge in visitors to our shores in future years – and not just those who want to see Buckingham Palace and get pockets picked in Piccadilly.

It isn’t just London that will be celebrated and promoted throughout the Olympics and the Paralympics, it is the whole nation.

Those who come for the sport will hopefully return for other reasons in the future – the countryside, heritage and outdoors we have in abundance elsewhere in this nation – and especially in this county.

The idea of the Olympic flame being carried around the country, however flaky, is to help people across the nation feel involved in the Games and to inspire people to achieve.

I’m not expecting people to organise coach trips and street parties to see the Olympic torch in Cumbria and witness what is unlikely to be a hugely spectacular event.

But we should turn out to support our local heroes who have been chosen to carry the flame.

To cheer them on for who they are, what they’ve accomplished and for what they could achieve.

Hopefully some of their inspiration and love of life will rub off on the rest of us.

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