Live Blog: The Olympic Torch Relay in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
THE Olympic Torch Relay headed through Staffordshire today, starting in Gnosall before going on to Haughton, Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent.
Throughout the day, we’ll be updating the torch’s progress through the county on this live blog, so don't forget to send your pictures to email@example.com, upload them straight to www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk or tweet us on @thisisstaffs.
• GALLERY: Olympic torch relay in Gnosall
• GALLERY: Olympic torch relay in Stafford
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Evening update: Here's a link to our report on the torch in Stoke-on-Trent this evening.
Missed the torch today? There's another chance to see it tomorrow. The relay starts early in Stoke-on-Trent before heading to Crewe and Congleton.
Thursday, June 31 schedule
7.01am Potteries Museum and Art Gallery
7.30pm UPDATE: A fantastic day in Staffordshire. The torch relay ended in a packed Hanley Park with thousands of people cheering it on. A great atmosphere is now being topped of with great entertainment.
Check out some of our favourite pictures from the day in the Staffordshire Olympic Torch picture gallery.
Shaun Jones, of Haughton, has sent us some excellent pictures which can be seen in the slideshow above. Thanks Shaun! Email us pictures, via firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll add them.
6.55pm UPDATE: Andy Wood has received the flame at the first "kiss" in Stoke-on-Trent.
Reporter Carly Baldwin was in Gnosall today to welcome the torch to Staffordshire. Here's her report.
And here's video, via YouTube, of some of the crowds at a "kiss" in a grey but jubilant Stafford:
Meanwhile, Brian Taylor has posted a great slideshow of the Stafford leg of the relay.
6.40pm UPDATE: The Olympic Torch relay has reached Stoke-on-Trent and the runners are in place. People are flocking to have pictures taken with the torch bearers. The atmosphere is fantastic.
Meanwhile, the whole of Stafford seemed to be out to welcome the torch ... unfortunately the folk on the Lloyds TSB bus seemed to think they were in Stratford! (via YouTube):
6.30pm UPDATE: The torch is now just a few minutes away from the city and the excitement is building.
Ian Mayland, of Sneyd Green, who is here with his six year old son Michael, said: "I did not expect to see so many people.
"We know lots of people from school who have come down."
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has posted a video of the Olympic Torch community parade:
Meanwhile, the party is in full swing in Hanley Park where live bands are entertaining crowds waiting for the torch.
6pm UPDATE: Newcastle-under-Lyme teenager Zahraa Bangee is taking her turn to carry the Olympic Torch.
Crowds are growing in Shelton. Among them is souvenir flag-seller Gavyn Macer, from Cardiff, who has been following the flame for much of its route so far. He says: "I have never seen anything like it. It's a special atmosphere and it is getting bigger. It's bringing communities together."
The torch is travelling from Stafford via the M6 and A500, so expect delays northbound.
5:55pm UPDATE: This is Staffordshire is based in Shelton right now, where the weather is holding off. It's a bit overcast but the crowds are in great spirits. There are people lining the streets that lead to Hanley Park, ready to give the torch a great welcome to Stoke-on-Trent. Around 40 mins until the torch appears.
Meanwhile, the whole of Stafford seems to have turned out to greet the torch. Lorna BB tweets: "Seen more people from Stafford in the last 5 minutes than in the last 3 years waiting for the Olympic Torch."
The torch has made its way through the town centre and now heading up Greyfriars. "Huge cheers and a proud day for Stafford," tweets @StaffsNews.
5:30pm UPDATE The Olympic torch reaches Stafford!
Reporter Charlie Phair says the atmosphere is amazing. "We have people leading a singsong on the Newport Road. God Save The Queen and wartime classics. The Noir et Blanc nightclub is pumping out the classics."
Charlotte Crellin agrees. She tweets: "Loving the Olympic Torch Relay fever in Stafford today!"
Meanwhile, back in Gnosall, reporter Carly Baldwin says no sooner did the torch leave than it started to rain! Fingers crossed it's just a shower and isn't too bad for the party-goers in Hanley later.
Carly adds: "The torch got a fantastic reception at Gnosall as it crossed into Staffordshire for the first time. The village was dressed up beautifully with union flags and the crowds were 15 to 20 people deep in places. They made lots of noise."
5:12pm UPDATE John Glover, from Dudley, runs the final leg of the relay in Gnosall and the torch is now on its way to Stafford.
Staffordshire Police say the A34 between Stafford and Redhill roundabout is now closed.
5:06pm UPDATE The first kiss! The second torch is being lit and passed in Gnosall.
5pm UPDATE The torch relay has arrived in Gnosall! "Some of the crowd is following the procession down the street," says Charlotte Cross on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Stoke on Trent City Council says the big evening show in Hanley Park has been delayed by 20 mins.
4:45pm UPDATE Only moments to go before the torch arrives in Staffordshire. Charlotte Cross says on Twitter: "There are cheers & clapping and the Olympic Torch Relay hasn't even arrived yet!"
4:35pm UPDATE Meanwhile, in Stafford the crowds are also gathering. And the good news is the rain is holding off. For the time at least!
Our reporter in the town Charlie Phair says: "The sky is slightly overcast, but it is still a hot summer's day. People have lined either side of the high street awaiting the arrival of the Olympic Torch. At around 4pm we had a marching band walk down through the high street accompanied with cheerleaders, street entertainers and children from local schools."
4:25pm UPDATE The torch is just 20 minutes away from Gnosall. Our reporter on the ground Carly Baldwin says the crowds are out in force.
4:10pm UPDATE The clouds are darkening over Gnosall. So far the Olympic torch has had a rain free journey. Is this about the change?
@Queen_Em on twitter: "It's gone awfully dark....Gnosall don't you dare be the first village to rain on the #olympictorch."
3:55pm UPDATE The Olympic Torch Relay is now just an hour away from entering Gnosall. Excitement is now also building in Stoke-on-Trent. Crowds are gathering along the route from Staffordshire University to Hanley Park.
2:40pm UPDATE Anticipation is starting to build in Gnosall, which is the first town the torch will visit in Staffordshire.
Roger Greatrex, the Chairman of Gnosall Parish Council, said: "Everybody is looking forward to it coming through. Yesterday the bunting and various bits and pieces were put up.
"The kids are staying at school and having their tea at school and then joining the road side activities.
"I'm 65 and the last Olympics in the UK were the year after I was born so at that rate it's going to be another 65 yers before the Olympics come to the UK again."
1:55pm UPDATE Here's a video interview with former Olympic Gold medallist and Stoke-on-Trent hockey legend Imran Sherwani, courtesy of Stoke-on-Trent City Council. Imran is the torchbearer who will carry the Olympic flame to Hanley Park tonight.
1:48pm UPDATE For those of you wondering about road closures today here are some handy links.
12:30pm UPDATE The torch is on its way to Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent for this evening’s celebration at Hanley Park. It left Chester this morning and has already passed through Wrexham, Oswestry and Shrewsbury.
It is will be arriving in Gnosall at 4.52pm, Haughton at 5.12pm, Stafford at 5.25pm and Shelton at 6.34pm before entering Hanley Park at around 6.45pm. For a full list of the streets it’ll be passing through as well as the names of torchbearers, check out the map below. Stay tuned for more updates.