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Cornwall's Olympic Torch Countdown

Olympic Torch
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5:49am 19th May 2012
(Updated 5:49am 19th May 2012)

Cornwall counts down the arrival of the Olympic Torch.

The flame has been flown into Culdrose on board a British Airways jet.

It has been guarded by police from Scotland Yard in the officers' mess.

771 Search and Rescue crews fly it by helicopter to Land's End, ahead of the 70 day Relay.

Captain Andy Berryman, who grew up in St Austell will fly the Olympic flame into Culdrose.

He is describing it as his 'most precious cargo':

"It's only going to happen once, certainly in my lifetime. I'm really lucky to be sat in the front for that to happen. It's nice to be able to come home, because it's not many opportunities that we have to be able to fly a jet into the airfield at Culdrose.

"I'll just be focussed as we normally are for every landing, just to make sure it's safe and in the right place on the runway, but it will be a different environment on the aircraft, a different atmosphere but still underneath all that, professional, to get the job done."

culdrose runwayculdrose chopper

Commander Jerry Ovens says, "It's a great honour in this once in a lifetime event that it should come through Culdrose. Particularly when we've got people deployed across the world. We've got aircraft in ships east of Suez. We've got aircraft in Afghanistan and, of course, we supply the Search and Rescue Squadron so it's an absolutely great thing to be involved as we are. We're absolutely delighted.

"Culdrose is three thousand people. It's completely embedded in the community. The naval personnel here can be based at Culdrose for very long periods of time. We feel very much a part of the local community and we're delighted that we can bring them on board as well".

Olympic Torch
Image source: LOCOG

On board the plane from Athens will be Princess Anne, David Beckham and Cornish schoolgirl Georgia Higgs.

The 15 year old county badminton player from Leedstown was nominated for her commitment to sport, and says her mates are jealous: " Completely surreal. It's amazing. Every day just gets better really. We haven't been able to tell anyone, literally, until we were at the airport. I got a couple of calls from them there. They're excited, well, they didn't believe me at first, but very excited.

"It's very surreal. Meeting Princess Anne, that was just crazy because you never think that something like that will ever happen. Especially being from Cornwall, we don't get much of the stuff happening down there and bringing it back to Culdrose as well, it's really, really good".

Goonhilly Earth Station is being lit up red, white and blue to mark the flame's arrival into the Helston base.

goonhilly2goonhilly1

It has been confirmed the Torch WILL be carried across the Tamar Bridge on foot.

Organisers have done a u-turn on plans to drive the flame part-way from Saltash to Plymouth, after an outcry.

The 70 day Torch Relay will start at Land's End at 7am on Saturday morning and Pirate FM will be following the route around Cornwall.

Olympics Front Page copy

Around one billion people will watch the event unfold.

It is estimated it will bring five and a half million pounds into Cornwall.

Malcolm Bell is Chairman of Visit Cornwall and says David Beckham is the icing on the cake: "You know, he is a world class figure, so I think that endorsement and him just coming in and just adding to the sort of, pre-day one excitement on Friday night will be very significant and I think get everybody ready for a great day on Saturday".

5:49am 19th May 2012

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