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Hundreds miss torch as procession starts early
HUNDREDS of people were left bitterly disappointed when the second day of the torch relay through Worcester started 15 minutes early.
Crowds had gathered from the Elgar statue to the river bridge and St John’s to see the torch embark on its second stretch of relay, which was supposed to start at 7.58am.
But many more followers who had turned out to witness the once-in-a-lifetime event missed out when organisers took the apparently last-minute decision to light the torch and set off at least 15 minutes before its advertised time.
Mark Reeves-Webb, from Warndon Villages, went into town with his partner and her 10-year-old daughter to catch a glimpse of the torch at the Elgar statue.
They parked in Sidbury at about 7.45am and were shocked to see people walking away and the cordon being removed.
He said: “We thought we would be more than early enough. We thought it would be better to see it today because it would have been cooler and less busy.
“Considering this is supposed to be the nation’s opportunity to see the flame, I can’t believe they started it early.
“It looks like my only ‘once in a lifetime’ Olympic experience was the olympic sized traffic jam trying to get back out of the city centre.”
Harvey Hudson, of Calgary Drive, Lower Wick saw the torch on Bromwich Road, St John’s, but said his son had missed it.
He said: “My son has given up a morning’s work to see it.
“He found his way through the traffic but it was gone. It’s not really right.
“Be a few minutes late by all means but never early.”
David Ogle, who works at Ogle’s Chemist in St John’s, was hoping to see the torch as it passed by the roundabout joining New Road and Bromwich Road.
He made the one or two minute walk down to the roundabout, only to be told the torch had already gone by.
He said: “It was not communicated at all not even on the radio.
“There’s no chance of me catching it anywhere else. It’s just disappointing.”
A spokesman from LOCOG said: “We identified seven people in the first 20 torchbearers who requested to walk and we needed to factor in extra time for that.
“On this occasion they were all in a group so we left a little bit early to make up that time.
“Looking at the pictures of the crowds, we do hope that people managed to catch up with us.”
l Hundreds more people had already been disappointed after they were directed to gather at the wrong place to welcome the torch into Worcester on Thursday.
A map published by Visit Worcester incorrectly said that the city leg of the relay would start at the park-and-ride in Droitwich Road, when in fact it began further towards the city centre at the junction with Coombs Road.
Head of Visit Worcester Georgia Smith admitted that the mistake was “a human failing”.
She said: “We apologise profusely to the people who were left inconvenienced.
“The leaflet passed lots of eyes and unfortunately no-one spotted it.”