St Albans hosts Paralympic flame: with gallery

MORE than 5,000 people sporting Union Jack flags and smiles on their faces came together to celebrate the Parlaympic flame passing through St Albans on Saturday.

The festivities began with the flame ambassador and the UK’s number one wheelchair badminton player, Gobi Ranganathan, carrying the flame along St Peter’s Street in front of cheering crowds.

He was also joined by local children and representatives from disability community groups who held 89 brightly decorated banners.

The flame was then formally welcomed by the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Julie Bell, before the first inclusive Sports Festival got underway in Verulamium Park. Festival-goers were invited to try out different physical activities and watch demonstrations from local sports clubs.

They were also treated to a packed evening of entertainment, including dance displays and a music line up headed by MOBO award winner Tinchy Styder.

And it looked like the chart-topping rapper enjoyed himself, as he wrote on his official Twitter page: “St Albans... We had a lot of fun on stage today!!!”

The flame was on display throughout the day to mark the lead-up to the Paralympic Games and over 1,000 lucky residents had the opportunity to have their photo taken with it.

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Richard Shwe, head of community services at St Albans district council, said: “It was a really great event with lots of sport, entertainment and live music for everyone to enjoy. In a fantastic finale, headline act, Tinchy Stryder, gave a great performance against the dramatic backdrop of the St Albans Abbey.

“The event was dependent on significant community involvement and I wish to thank all the local sport clubs in the district who took part in Sports Fest 2012 and helped make it a success.

“Hopefully, the day will have inspired people to either take up a new sport or to become more active.”

St Albans was one of only 34 communities across the country chosen to host a Paralympic flame celebration event.