Jun 8 2012
Olympic torch bearer Ross McClelland
CROWDS have been lining the streets of towns and villages across Scotland to welcome the Olympic flame.
The torch is winding its way to Glasgow on a 138-mile (222km) route which has taken it through communities such as Alloway and Kilmarnock in Ayrshire.
In the seaside port of Stranraer, on the south-west coast, the build-up began at dawn with music in Castle Square where bearers carrying flags of the 200 countries taking part in the London Games greeted the torch procession.
The relay set off at 6am, carried by soldier Ross McClelland from Ayr, the first person to run with the torch on Scottish soil.
The 20-year-old, who serves with A Company 2 Scots, returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan earlier this year.
He said the experience of carrying the torch was brilliant.
“I’m still on a high right now.
“My big sister nominated me when I was in Afghanistan. I do a lot of running in the Army and she thought it would be right up my street.
“When I’m not serving overseas all I really do is running over here.”
The soldier was 19 when he was sent to Afghanistan with his company, where he faced enemy fire.
His mother, Diane, said: “I can’t tell you how proud I am. It seems such a short time since that was all happening to this. He deserves today. We all deserve it because it was such a relief getting him home.
“To see him doing this – the first in Scotland – is just fabulous. It’s fantastic. I’m so proud of him.”
Also running were Doreen Bowie, 62, the principal of Stranraer’s Wallace School of Dance, and Carol Harwood, from the Isle of Arran.
It was the second time Mrs Bowie had got her hands on the torch – she was picked to carry it off the ferry from Northern Ireland last night.
The torch was met off the boat by Scotland Office Minister David Mundell and Shona Robison, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport.
After leaving Stranraer, the torch wound its way to Cairnryan and Ballantrae. It is being taken to Glasgow through Ayrshire and onwards via Lochwinnoch, Kilmacolm, Port Glasgow and Rutherglen.
In Alloway, crowds lined the streets to watch as the flame was handed over at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.
Kirsty Kane, 17, from Saltcoats, carried it through the town. She was nominated for her courage and determination in dealing with cerebral palsy.
In front of the museum she passed the flame to Olympian Suzanne Otterson, 38, from Ayr, who represented Great Britain in the figure skating at the Albertville Winter Olympics in 1992.
Crowds cheered and waved flags as the torch was handed over.
Actor James McAvoy and Olympic curler Rhona Martin are among those who will carry the flame when it reaches Glasgow, where celebrations will take place in George Square. Festivities there will include music from Eliza Doolittle, Emeli Sande and General Fiasco.
The torch is touring Scotland for the next seven days, taking in some of the UK’s farthest-flung places, including Orkney and Shetland, and the Outer Hebrides.