Golden day for north Norfolk

The 'iconic' communities of north Norfolk will get a once-in-a-lifetime economic boost when they are seen by the eyes of the world during the Olympic torch relay.

Excitement is building in the district after Monday's announcement that the golden beacon will stop in Holt, Cromer and Aylsham as it is carried across the UK in the run-up to the 2012 London games.

Civic leaders and homegrown sporting stars heralded 'history in the making' as they looked forward to thousands of people lining the route on July 4.

But there was disappointment in north Norfolk's biggest town, North Walsham, which was not selected as part of the route.

Multiple marathon runner Maurice Copeland was delighted to hear the torch would be passing through Cromer – and is one of the lucky few who has been nominated to carry it on its north Norfolk journey.

The 82-year-old from Mundesley, who has run 18 marathons, said: 'I think it's a marvellous thing and it's a privilege for the county to have it.

'I think it will put Norfolk on the map and I think we deserve it. We have got a beautiful coastline and we have got some nice towns.

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'I hope a lot of people come out and support it.'

The grandfather-of-three will find out next month whether he has been picked to escort the flame on part of its epic 8,000 mile trip.

'I can't wait for December 5,' he added. 'I think it's an honour for the people who carry it.'

He joined dignitaries from the three towns to celebrate Monday's announcement on Cromer beach where local artist Mik Richardson created a special sand drawing.

Greg Hayman, Cromer Mayor, thought the torch's tour of north Norfolk was great news for the area and its stop in his constituency would be particularly significant as the town marks its 750th anniversary in 2012.

He said: 'I think it shows the iconic status of north Norfolk and how important the towns and communities are. I think we should be pleased and proud; it's a string of pearls it's going to be passing through.'

Bryan Payne, Holt mayor, added: 'I think it's a great privilege to be picked. It's a once in a lifetime chance for local people in the towns and surrounding villages to come and see a bit of history.'

North Walsham's mayor Vivenne Uprichard, meanwhile was sad her town had been missed off the torch's route.

She said: 'I'm really disappointed. I would have loved it to have been coming through North Walsham, but then I understand they can't go everywhere.'