Scottish crowds greet Olympic Torch

3:28pm Friday 8th June 2012

© Press Association 2014

Crowds have lined the streets to welcome the Olympic flame as it began its tour of Scotland.

The torch is winding its way to Glasgow on a 138-mile 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." 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."

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 on Thursday 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.

The crowd in Glasgow city centre grew steadily after the gates opened and the moment of the torch's arrival drew ever closer. Onlookers watched dance performances from Scottish Ballet and Gaelic community groups, interspersed with countdowns to the torch's arrival. Indie rockers General Fiasco also took to the stage as men, women and children cheered and waved flags.

Soul-pop star Emeli Sande will be performing her best-known hits shortly before the flame arrives in George Square where the crowd could reach 16,000. Skinny Genes singer Eliza Doolittle will be the final big-name act at the free event, for which tickets were allocated in a public ballot.

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