Nov 11 2011 by Stuart Wilson, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
THE Olympic torch will make EIGHT stops when it heads through South Ayrshire next year.
Towns and villages between Ballantrae and Ayr will get up close and personal with the iconic flame on June 8.
And the announcement has been hailed as a gold medal success for the region.
The torch will also travel through Girvan, Turnberry, Maidens, Kirkoswald, Maybole and Alloway.
Council chiefs will then throw a mini Olympic party on the Low Green as they welcome the torch to Ayr.
The flame will be en route to London for the official opening of the 2012 Games when it passes through South Ayrshire.
Margaret Toner, the council’s spokeswoman for tourism, insists it will be a landmark celebration.
She said: “I see this being a huge event for all of the towns and villages involved.
“And it’s especially nice that a lot of the smaller venues are getting the chance to see the torch.
“I’m absolutely delighted for them and I hope that both children and adults alike respond to this once in a lifetime event.
“We must really make the most of this opportunity to encourage children and hopefully inspire them to be involved in sport from a young age.”
Sebastian Coe, chair of the Olympics’ organising committee, confirmed the good news for the region.
He said: “We are thrilled to confirm that Ballantrae, Girvan, Turnberry, Maidens, Kirkoswald, Maybole, Alloway and Ayr will act as host locations for the Olympic Flame, extending an invitation to people in South Ayrshire to welcome the Olympic Torch Relay during its journey around the UK.
“This is the UK’s moment to shine and I want to encourage people across South Ayrshire to start planning how they can be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity and show their support for the inspirational torchbearers chosen to carry the Olympic Flame as we count down to the start of the Olympic Games.”
Ayr councillor Elaine Little believes Olympic organisers have fallen in love with South Ayrshire.
She said: “To get eight stops on the route is absolutely fantastic and we should be very proud of what we’ve achieved here.
“We have some of the most stunning scenery in the whole country, we are the birthplace of Burns, and we can boast a really unique history.
“Next year will be a chance for all children to share in the moment as well because this will be history in the making.”
Ayr MSP John Scott, a long time campaigner to bring the torch to town, also greeted the news with delight.
Mr Scott said: “I am delighted that the torch is going to be on display and especially for those who have been selected to take part in the proceedings.
“I look forward to being on hand on the day to enjoy the celebrations, as I’m sure everyone else will do.”
The torch will also visit the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway as it winds through South Ayrshire.
And Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley MSP, Adam Ingram, added: “I am sure local communities will be excited at the prospect of the torch travelling through our local towns and villages.”