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24 August 2012, 06:00
After the success of the London 2012 Olympic games, people across Norfolk and Suffolk are getting ready to welcome the Paralympic flame to the area.
The torch’s journey across the East begins today at Needham Lake and finishes in Bury St. Edmunds on Monday – before heading to London for the start of the games on Wednesday.
Stilt-walkers, magicians, creative workshops and a lantern procession are today expected to entertain crowds at the Flame Festival at Needham Lake.
The free event will begin at 2pm and run until 9.30pm.
To ensure that the event is accessible for people with disabilities the event has been granted a Big Lottery grant of £7,480
David Finn, Leisure Services Manager for Disability charity Optua, which is helping to organise the event, said: “This event will be a fantastic day for Suffolk and we want to ensure that as many disabled people and their families can get there.
“Any outdoor event poses challenges for disabled people in terms of getting there and getting about.
“Many disabled people do not normally have the opportunity to attend large scale events of this kind so we wanted to make sure we provided really excellent facilities so everyone can celebrate the Paralympic Flame coming to Suffolk.”
After visiting Needham Lake, a private event has been organised by Norfolk County Council, alongside Active Norfolk and the Sportspark. Tickets have been given out through local sports clubs. The flame will arrive at 12.30 followed by speeches, including from Norfolk’s Flame Ambassador, Will Smith.
Sixteen-year-old Westfield (near East Dereham) resident, Will, is a T54 wheelchair racer - the fastest and most competitive racing class.
Will was selected by UK Athletics to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the 2011 World Junior Championships in Dubai - where he won 4 gold medals (100m, 200m, 400m and 1500m) and 1 silver medal (1500m) in the under-18 age group.
He currently holds the national under-17 record times over 200m, 400m and 800m.
The celebrations will then continue on Sunday when the flame travels to Bury Leisure Centre where people can try out number of disability sports. Between 3pm and 4pm they can take pictures of themselves with the flame.
It will then move to Moyse’s Hall Museum where it will burn on a special stand in the Great Hall, at the heart of the Suffolk Lap of Honour exhibition.
It will stay there until Tuesday, where it will join the other flames at their birthplace at Stoke Mandeville Hospital before a 24 hour relay takes it to the 2012 Paralympic Games starting in London on Wednesday.
Alan Baxter, Heritage Services Manager for the borough council, which runs Moyse’s Hall Museum said: “The Lap of Honour exhibition is part of the national Cultural Olympiad and tells the stories of Suffolk individuals who have participated in the games, over the years.
“They can experience a little of what it is like to be a participant, using objects contributed by the individuals. There is the chance to take a photo on the podium, wearing the London 2012 track suit, to the sound of the crowd in the arena.”
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