On Friday 6th July Bandsman John Willson got up extra early. He had to be in Maldon for 6.00am briefing ready for his part in the official Olympic torch relay. At 08:47 he picked the flame from another runner and travelled the 300 yards along Maldon Road Hatfield Peverel with a broad smile on his face interacting with the thousands of well-wishers that had turned out to greet the flame.
It was a wet morning as crowds jostled for position whilst trying to control their umbrellas. Sponsors vehicles came through as did a plethora of police motorcycles from various forces, with their riders ‘high-fiving’ the youngsters on the route.
Then, strangely, came a horse box. But there were no horses. It was the media van with reporters on board and a metal framework on which cameras were mounted.
There was one point of interest to Salvationists that the media van missed. Just after John handed over the torch, the procession passed London North-East Divisional headquarters. Divisional staff were handing out hot and cold drinks – and bacon sandwiches! Sharing the shelter of the Army’s gazebo was a handful of young bandsmen brought together by Divisional Youth Officer Ben Still to provide music. Meanwhile, Paul Garnham, a Salvationist from Colchester was on hand to contact people and hand out the special edition of the War Cry and Kids Alive.
Later that morning, John arrived in Hadleigh with his torch and posed for photographs before the same processing – but with different torchbearers – passed the Temple.