Community groups celebrate moment in the spotlight with music and dance
DANCERS, drummers, schoolchildren and bears helped give the Olympic Flame a rousing welcome to Congleton.
The town, one of four in Cheshire East to be included in the torch relay, organised a host of events to make the most of its moment in the Olympic spotlight.
And despite a grey and soggy start to the day, locals came out in force to witness the historic occasion.
Congleton's own Olympic medallists Robbie and Ann Brightwell were among the residents cheering on the torchbearers along the route.
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The couple, who won gold and silver medals in the 1964 Tokyo games, said seeing the Olympic flame would inspire the people of Congleton.
Robbie Brightwell, aged 72, of Moody Street, said: "I think it's fantastic to have the torch here because it's such a unique moment in the lives of Congleton and its people. It also shows to people the importance of the 2012 games.
"It was different for us back in 1964, as the Olympics weren't in this country, but it's always been something that has inspired people."
Ann, aged 70, added: "The organisers have done a great job with all the events happening in Congleton to welcome the Flame, with the dancers on the roundabout and the bears.
"They've tried really hard to get everybody involved."
Congleton High School's Samba band gave a musical accompaniment to the torch as it started its journey along Sandbach Road.
Pupils and parents from Quinta, Bosley and Black Firs primary schools greeted the flame on Sandbach Road, and then followed the torchbearers, including 14-year-old athlete Ailsa MacArthur, a pupil at Eaton Bank School in Congleton, along the route.
The crowds gathered at the Waggon and Horses roundabout on West Road were treated to a ribbon dance performed by the Jill Young Ballet School and My Theatre Group, accompanied by Mbollou African drummers.
Dancers from the Congleton-based Joanne Bayley School of Dance performed at the fire station roundabout, which also featured a display of bear sculptures to celebrate the town's cultural identity.
Dance school founder Joanne Bayley said: "This was a really great opportunity, and the girls were really looking forward to it."