What does it feel like to carry the Olympic Torch?

Michael Moore, from our People Services team, was lucky enough to be selected to carry the Olympic Torch when it arrived in the North East last week. Here he talks about this amazing, once in a lifetime experience.

Wow, what an amazing Friday I had down on the sea front at Whitley Bay in the North East of England.

I’ve lived in the area for over 25 years and I’ve never seen so many people down on the sea front as I did on Friday 15 June.  The Olympic Torch Relay came to my town and I was part of this amazing spectacle.

How did I find out?

I can still remember the day when my colleague advised that she would like me to represent Sage by carrying the Olympic Torch.

We sat just outside our office and she said “I’d like to know if you would represent Sage during the Olympic Torch Relay, by carrying it along one of the stages”. Well, I nearly fell off my seat and eventually picked my jaw off the floor.

It was a simple answer “Yes!!!”

Michael Moore carries the Olympic Torch

So why me?

Since joining Sage in March 1999, I’ve been heavily involved in the community aspect of what we do as a business, from being part of the team setting up  our first Tyne & Wear Community Foundation Panel in 2002, through being our first CSR person and setting the processes up that have continued and grown CSR to all the activities we do today.

Outside of Sage, I’ve always been an active fundraiser for local and national charities, having completed in marathons and half marathons over the years and raised in access of £7,000.  In my spare time (not much of that) I’ve coached junior football for the past 6 years, giving my time up on an evening and weekend to develop boys from the ages of 8 through to 15, even missing my own son’s football development to coach others.

On the day?

I’d received my information pack the week before and I had to meet at Blyth Sports Centre for 11.45am, although I wasn’t running until 2.16pm in Whitley Bay.

I arrived nice and early and the crowds had already started to form.  The car park was amazing with many branded and Olympic official vehicles, along with what looked like half the Police vehicles in the region.

My stomach was now getting butterflies.

I went into the main reception area and was then directed to the “Torch Bearers Meeting Area” upstairs, which was already filled with 12 other people as lucky as me, along with our guides for the day.  They checked my passport to make sure I was who I said I was and then it was time to start swapping stories and chilling out, taking photos with the torch.

Michael Moore carries the Olympic Torch

On to the bus we got taken to our drop off points along the afternoon’s route from Blyth to Tynemouth.  As we pulled out of the car park, the crowds were even bigger than before and we all looked at each other and said “Oh my goodness, what an amazing scene and I feel like a celebrity,” as we waved and smiled to them all along the route.

We eventually got to my spot around 2.05pm and as I was dropped off, there was my wife and son, along with my dad and father-in-law.  The roar went up as I stepped off the bus and everyone started shouting, screaming and clapping.  It was how imagined a sports person must feel as they come out for their event.

I really played the crowd; going around with the torch, letting people have their photos taken with it and even just stroking it seemed to please people.

At 2.16pm the police officer shouted me over, as my fellow torch bearer was coming into site and I needed to be in place to receive the Olympic flame in the now famous “Kiss” of the torches.  My torch was lit and the police officer touched me on the back and said “You’re ready to go; enjoy the moment”.  I will never forget those words.

So off I set at a very slow pace, with hundreds of people on both sides of the road including my work colleagues and also my friends from my local running club, North Shields Poly.  Everyone was clapping and screaming out my name.  It was truly amazing.

I felt like I was gliding along to road and what seemed to take ages to get to Jordan, my fellow torch bearer.  The experience was amazing and truly inspirational.  A once in a life time moment.

We again did the “Kiss” of the torches and then off he went.  For me the moment was over, but I was interviewed very quickly and then back onto the torch bearers bus.  Stepping back onto the bus, everyone clapped me back on and we all said the same thing each time “Wow that was amazing, can I do it again!!”

We continued along the route of the torch, waving and smiling to the crowds of people along the route and spotting work colleagues along the way.  After picking up our last torch bearer in Tynemouth we headed back on the bus to Blyth, where we waited around 15 minutes to have our torches decommissioned and then we were free to go home to our family and friends.

How to describe the day and opportunity.  I can’t in one word, as it’s something that you can only describe in the words above.  But it was truly inspiring, a once in a life time opportunity and something I can only thank Sage for giving me the opportunity to do.

Thank you Sage!

Michael Moore, People Services Team