Video: 1948 Olympic Torch lights the way for Downham Market carnival parade

Holding aloft the 1948 Olympic Torch, Cath Duhig and Tina Cawkwell led the annual carnival parade in Downham Market today.

The torch arrived in the town just before 1pm to take part in the parade as part of a 170-mile route around West Norfolk which will finish at Lynnsport, in King's Lynn, on Tuesday.

British, European and world champion racewalker Mrs Duhig and Ms Cawkwell, a member of women-only running group Downham Dollies, were nominated to carry the torch as they both work to promote and support sports and activity in the area.

The sight of the iconic torch was a hit with those who took part in the event and the thousands who lined the streets to watch the parade snake its way from the Heygates Mill to the Howdale.

Students from Downham Market High School then carried the torch to Wimbotsham as it made its way through to Upwell – its final stop of the day.

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The parade is one of the highlights of the Downham Market Festival which started on Sunday and ends on Sunday, June 10.

This year's theme was Olympic Jubilee.

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Speaking after carrying the torch, Mrs Duhig said: 'It was great. There really was a good atmosphere in the town. I'm feeling very privileged right now. It was a wonderful experience and it just feels so special to have been part of this day.'

Ms Cawkwell added: 'It was an absolute honour to carry the torch. It was just an awesome experience.

'The official Olympic torch isn't coming through Downham so this is really bringing the Games to the town which I think is fantastic.'

Downham Market resident Geoff Hall has taken part in the parade for the 38 years it has been held in the town.

The 85-year-old never fails to impress with his fancy dress and this year dressed up as a Beefeater and decorated his mobility scooter with red, white and blue ribbon and balloons.

He said: 'I did this all myself and tried not to put too much on. I love being part of this parade – I never want to stop.'

He added: 'I send the Queen a birthday card every year and I always get a letter back from Buckingham Palace to say thank you. I have sent her a special card for her diamond jubilee which I hope she likes.'

Susan Gooding-Lewis, owner of Downham caf� Knicat, enjoyed watching the parade with her daughter Sophie, five, who was dressed as a princess.

Mrs Gooding-Lewis said: 'I really enjoy the parade. I have watched it for years and it's always so nice to see the whole town come out and support this event and the hard work that goes into this.

'It has been great to have the sun shining, which I think has put everyone in a great mood, and the theme of the diamond jubilee and the Olympics is fantastic.'

Her daughter added: 'I like getting dressed up for the parade because I just like dressing up. I liked the parade and enjoyed walking behind the fire engine and following the parade.'

After arriving at the Howdale, newly-elected town Robin Pegg officially open the Carnival Day events on the park which had plenty to offer in the main arena.

Mr Pegg said: 'The parade was brilliant and we had a fantastic trip through the town. It was brilliant to see so many people lining the streets. Without them coming out to show their support, this event would not happen and it was a fabulous turnout.

'It was great to have the torch lead the parade. It's a unique thing - it won't be done again in my lifetime. I feel on top of the world.'

He added: 'This is just one day. There are lots of events going on throughout the week around the town so I hope these people can also get along to a few more events.'

Other events in the 38th Downham Market Festival include a live screening of the diamond jubilee celebrations in London at the Town Hall today. There will also be free rides for children, face painting, a jubilee town trial, a prince and princess competition, and much more in the Town Square and Market Place.

Tomorrow people can go along to the Town Hall for the festival cake-cutting event from 10am or enjoy performances from Rachel Duffield and the West Norfolk Gilbert and Sullivan singers from 7.30pm.

A festival baby show will take place at the Salvation Army meeting place in Bridge Street on Thursday, from 1.30pm, which will be followed by an evening of entertainment in the Town Hall which is being organised by Downham Amateur Drama Society (DADS).

People can also have a great evening of music at the Downham Market Methodist Church hall on Friday which will showcase the talents of young local singers with music ranging from pop to musical theatre.

Next Saturday there will be a children's fancy dress disco in the Town Hall from 1.30pm. The final day of the festival will see songs of praise and a flag lowering ceremony on the Town Square at 1pm.

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