HERALD COMMENT (JULY 20TH): Olympic torch brought the feelgood factor

THE arrival of the Olympic torch in Eastbourne on Tuesday afternoon was one of those much-needed feelgood events.

Even the weather has been so depressing lately failing to lift the hearts during this time of recession and austerity.

However, the sun did shine in Eastbourne, albeit briefly, with the entrance of the Olympic torch.

A cavalcade of security vehicles, sponsors’ coaches and minibuses carrying the torch-bearer provided an advance guard through streets thronging with people up to ten deep. They were there to simply witness a lone runner, clad in white, holding aloft a symbolic Olympic torch, jog past them .

How the public responded to the event in unprecedented fashion.

Eastbourne tourism chiefs reckon 50,000 packed in the town to watch the torch progress. Sussex Police are claiming that about half a million people in the county turned out to see the torch.

At last the nation is catching onto the Olympic Games which gets under way in exactly a week’s time.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Eastbourne, and even the town’s sunshine carnival didn’t capture the imagination on such a scale as the Olympic torch relay on Tuesday afternoon.

Why this was so, it is difficult to say. But what the Olympic torch achieved in the space of a couple of hours was to bring a sense of community and belonging for what was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

NO-ONE would deny that the absence of the Red Arrows would have left a cloud over Eastbourne’s big airshow this summer.

In diamond jubilee and Olympic Games year, what more fitting sight in the skies above us than the red, white and blue in the wake of the Arrows. But then Moscow called and Airbourne’s prized asset was snatched away.

Then out of the blue, this week’s news that the coveted Vulcan will fly into the breach. Paid for, we’re told, from the council’s “flying asset budget” to mark the airshow’s 20th anniversary.

A budget we’ve never before heard of but who would deny that we needed a star attraction to fill the void and get the town’s tourism tills ringing?