Hackney prepares to welcome the Paralympic Flame

Massive crowds are expected to welcome the arrival of the Paralympic flame as it is carried through the streets of Hackney this evening, bound for the spectacular opening ceremony a few hours later at the Olympic Stadium.

Five weeks after the arrival of the Olympic flame brought an estimated 100,000 spectators onto the borough’s streets, it is anticipated that the Paralympic torch will also draw large crowds, though not in such vast numbers as this time the route through Hackney is considerably shorter.

The torch is visiting all six host Olympic boroughs on a 24-hour relay following its 92-mile overnight journey from Stoke Mandeville in Buckingshamshire, the spiritual home of the Paralympic movement.

The Hackney leg begins at 6.09pm at the Ash Grove bus garage entrance in Mare Street, close to the junction of Victoria Park Road

A team of five torchbearers will take the flame to Hackney Town Hall, arriving there at about 6.20pm.

Deaf comedian and event host Steve Day will welcome Mayor Jules Pipe onto the stage in the Town Hall Square to welcome the Torch.

From there it will be carried along Reading Lane, down Eleanor Road and into Richmond Road before finishing the Hackney leg of the relay in London Fields at 6.34pm.

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At 6.39pm the torch will then be taken to the start of the relay’s next leg in Waltham Forest.

Among the 116 teams of five disabled and non-disabled torchbearers who will carry the flame on the various legs from Stoke Mandeville are four from Hackney.

They include 22-year-old blind fitness instructor John Craig as well as, tax and legal advice worker Robert Powell, 29, and sports coaches Kyum Choudhury and Sharon Jones Barnes, both from Shoreditch,

Mr Craig, who recently appeared in the BBC TV series Saints and Scroungers, with presenter Dominic Littlewood, as someone deserving of local authority or government help, said: “I am pleased to be selected, although it does hold mixed emotions for me as I was hoping to be part of the GB Paralympic judo team but lost my chance due to a knee injury.”