With Olympic fever now sweeping across Britain, the county council is playing a key role in bringing the spirit and lasting legacy of the world’s greatest sporting spectacle to Cumbria.
From staff taking part in the Torch Relay to local committees supporting Olympic-related activities in the county’s communities, Cumbria County Council is working to ensure Cumbria reaps the rewards and benefits the Olympic Games have to offer.
For many, the journey of the torch around the British Isles will be the key event for their community, and part of the job of ensuring the relay passes through Cumbria successfully falls on the county council.
County council highways teams in the areas the torch is passing through have been busy implementing traffic regulation orders (TROs) required to close certain roads and the county council’s local committees have been providing funding to pay for the required advertising of the TROs.
The traffic management engineers have been instrumental in developing the traffic management plan with each district council and they have detailed knowledge of the routes and of the specific times the torch enters each location.
County council Better Highways teams are also going to be on hand to carry out rapid repairs in the event of road issues that might interfere with the torch procession.
District councils act as host authority for the torch’s safe passage through the county but the county council has agreed to collate the full daily reports which summarise the key highlights and any issues arising as the torch passes through Cumbria as well as sending the reports to the Government Olympic Executive.
These reports contain a variety of information about the Torch Relay from spectator numbers to logging any incidents that might occur along the route.
The emergency control centre at Cumbria Police Headquarters at Carleton Hall is also going to be staffed when the torch is in the county with the county council ready to take on its emergency planning role should the need arise.
And when the flame does reach Cumbria on 20, 21 and 22 June, Cumbria County Council staff will be among those getting the honour of carrying the torch.
Kendal-based group manager for Cumbria County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service, Andrew Brodie is going to be carrying the torch through Keswick on 21 June.
Andrew has been nominated for his work with the Fire and Rescue Service and for helping motivate his fellow firefighters in Kendal to grow moustaches and raise nearly £10,000 for the Movember charity.
"It’s a real honour to be taking part in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I really never expected to be nominated,” said Andrew.
"The Torch Relay is a great way of making people up and down the country feel like they’re part of the Olympics, and being one of the Torchbearers is something I’ll never forget.”
Cumbria County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service will also be represented in the Torch Relay by Megan Fearnley and Penrith firefighter Stephen Reid.
Megan, 19, volunteers for the Fire Service in Kendal carrying out home safety visits and other Fire Service initiatives in addition to being a youth worker with Young Cumbria. She’ll be carrying the torch in Leyburn near the county boundary with Cumbria.
Firefighter Stephen has been nominated to carry the torch through his hometown of Penrith thanks to his ongoing work in supporting charities and good causes.
Stephen said: "To be honest I’m really overwhelmed to be involved and even when I was nominated I never for a second thought I’d be chosen.
"To carry the torch is a massive honour anyway but to get to carry it through my hometown makes it even more special.”
Barrow-based social worker Sally Bowes is also going to be flying the flag for Cumbria County Council in the relay by carrying the torch through Penrith after colleagues put her name forward for nomination.
As part of the Olympic torch’s journey around Cumbria, the flame will be carried across Windermere on a steamer.
While making its way across England’s largest lake, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service’s rescue boat is going to be on hand in Bowness Bay as part of a multi-agency flotilla to provide a rapid response in the event of an emergency.
While sport is of course the main feature of the Olympics, it’s not just sport-themed projects and torches that will be featured in the Olympic celebrations – the Cultural Olympiad (organised by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) is a massive cultural celebration encompassing cultural projects across the UK.
On the evening of 21 June Bowness is going to be the venue for a spectacular open air production following the arrival of the Olympic Torch in the town – an event the county council has helped make possible.
Streams of colour and light will be blasted across the skies above Bowness as part of The Les Commandos Percu show, On The Night Shift.
On The Night Shift – presented by Lakes Alive - is one of just four official opening events of the London 2012 Festival, the cultural celebration of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Cumbria County Council has a three-year agreement to support Lakes Alive in Cumbria and has provided the organisation with £40,000 as a final instalment.
Cumbria’s libraries are taking part in the Summer 2012 Reading Challenge – an Olympic-inspired literary spectacular that is set to be Britain’s biggest ever reading event for children.
The aim of the challenge is to get children aged four to 11 to read six books from their local library during the summer holidays to encourage reading for pleasure.
On joining the scheme they’re provided with a summer reading challenge pack to get them started and they pick up certificates and often a medal on their way to completing six books.
Each year the Summer Reading Challenge has a different theme with 2012 being the Story Lab – a celebration of story and the imagination.
Story Lab links in to the Olympic Games as it’s an official project in the Cultural Olympiad’s London 2012 Festival. The Cultural Olympiad has been inspiring creativity in all forms of arts and culture, especially among young people. It includes a wide range of events, from local projects to large-scale performances across the UK and the London 2012 Festival is its finale.
Councillor Eddie Martin, leader of Cumbria County Council, said: "This summer is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Cumbria to be part of the world’s biggest sporting event and it’s a real opportunity for the county to get into the Olympic spirit.
"From the torch relay to the Summer Reading Challenge, there’s so much for Cumbrians to look forward to and take part in and I’m delighted Cumbria County Council is playing an important role.
"For me, the Olympics are not just about sport. The Olympian spirit is all about inspiring people, particularly children and teenagers, to be the best they can be. That’s something I feel passionate about and I think the Olympics can encourage people to achieve, whatever their interests might be.”
For more information on Summer Reading Challenge Activities in Cumbria’s libraries visit www.cumbria.gov.uk/libraries/
Media enquiries to communications adviser John Ballard on 01228 221752