Dereham grandfather braves torrential rain in north-west England to carry Olympic flame

A Dereham grandfather yesterday braved torrential rain in north-west England to carry the Olympic flame after a computer glitch sent him to the other side of the country.

John Richardson, 58, was forced to make the five-and-a-half hour trip to Blackpool because a computer misread his address as Vienna Walk in Dereham, Lancashire, instead of Dereham, Norfolk.

The county yesterday received one month's worth of rainfall in a single day and homes in two Lancashire towns had to be evacuated, but the atrocious weather was not allowed to slow the torch's progress.

Mr Richardson said: 'It was coming straight off the sea. The sea was so rough it was just gale force with squally showers and rain coming right at you.'

He said the storm had closed the Blackpool Tower because of safety concerns, and meant the torch kissing ceremony when the flame is transferred from one carrier to the next took longer than normal because of the cold.

However, Mr Richardson, who was nominated to join the relay by his grandson Harry Monument and selected because of his commitment to Dereham Runners, said the downpour did not dampen spirits.

He said: 'My natural instinct was to go off sprinting, but you just wanted to wave to the crowd and the children.

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'It was a great atmosphere. Being far from London, the people here are so up for it. It's a national thing. It's not just a southern thing, it's a national rejoycing. There's a great pride that we can put it on.

'It's the emotion of it. When you see that flame coming toward you it's what it represents. I would have gone if it was in the Shetlands. It's one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.'

He added that although he was forced to make a 480 mile round-trip to carry the flame in Lancashire, he would still go the 18 miles to see it when it comes to Norfolk next month.

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