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RING OF FIRE; THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE LINE MERSEYSIDE'S STREETS TO CHEER ON THE OLYMPIC TORCH.

Byline: JAMIE BOWMAN, JOE THOMAS, ROB PATTINSON; TOMDUFFY ; DANIELLE MANNING

THE Olympic torch was welcomed to Merseyside in world record-breaking fashion as thousands of children created the biggest set of human Olympic rings.

About 5,880 pupils from 46 schools across Sefton dressed in yellow, black, red, green and blue T-shirts to form the famous hoops on Crosby beach yesterday.

After standing in formation for more than 10 minutes, the huge gathering was verified by Guinness officials as a new world record, breaking one set in Bath last month.

Emma McCormick, a teacher at Linaker primary school, Southport, whose pupils formed part of the green ring, said: "Some kids said it was a privilege to be there and something they can tell their grandchildren."

Earlier hundreds more residents lined the route through the sun-drenched town as young and old cheered the torch bearers as they made their way towards to the beach.

The day's celebrations began in Burscough, where thousands of people got up early to line the streets.

Burscough Priory high school band performed outside The Hop Vine pub.

Mike McCombe, who runs the pub with his wife Julie, said: "The band were brilliant. Burscough felt like a village again yesterday."

ECHO Gift Of The Cab columnist Bernie Buxton carried the Olympic flame through Ormskirk, where an estimated 18,000-strong crowd lined the streets.

Bernie, 67, of Stockbridge Village, who helped set up the Liverpool Taxi Drivers Children In Care Outing Fund, said: "I've never seen anything like it in my life - it felt like lifting the European Cup."

The torch arrived at KGV college in Scarisbrick New Road, Southport, at around 10am, where it was greeted with a party for schools and community groups before going on to Ainsdale via convoy.

Spectators Deborah and John Cornwall arrived in Lord Street at 8.30am.

Deborah said: "We had to make sure that we got a good space - we knew it would be too good to miss."

The relay then moved onto Formby, where Lancashire and England hockey player Nick Giles ran the first stretch before the fun moved on to Crosby.

The torch then headed to St Helens, where an estimated 40,000 people turned out to cheer on the relay.

CAPTION(S):

PROUD: A little girl from Moorgate Nursery School with her homemade torch in Ormskirk ALL DRESSED UP: Even Bruce the pony enjoyed the torch parade in Formby MOBBED: Torchbearer Frankie Meadows runs down Crosby seafront POPULAR: Crowds line the Southport streets to welcome the torch HONOUR: Formby's Phil Capper carries the torch through his home town while at Aintree racecourse Kimberley Cooper and Grand National winner Neptune Collonges made their way to the winning post RECORD BREAKERS: 5,880 schoolchildren formed the Olympic rings on the beach at Blundellsands to break the world record and, left, cabbie Bernie Buxton was mobbed as he carried the torch through Ormskirk
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 2, 2012
Words:482
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