Winchester’s 2012 Handover Strikes Gold

There may not be gold medals for grabs at Bank Holiday Sunday’s Big Live Your Dream Picnic, marking the official Handover to London as host city of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but the ever-enterprising tourist information centre in the Broadway has sourced a supply of 2012 coins specially produced for the occasion by The Royal Mint.

The coin, whose full title is “The 2008 United Kingdom Olympic Games Handover Ceremony £2 Coin”, comes in a commemorative wallet featuring quotes from leading figures such as London 2012 Chairman Sebastian Coe, and a series of stirring images.  These will be the first commemorative coins to be issued in celebration of London 2012.  Supplies will be limited, so staff advise a visit to the centre as early as Wednesday this week if you fancy one of the first 2012 souvenirs.

Winchester’s handover celebrations take the form of a giant family picnic from 11am to 4pm at North Walls Recreation Ground organised by Winchester City Council in partnership with Hampshire County Council.  The day of live screen action from the closing day of the Beijing Games and a host of sports taster sessions will draw to a ceremonial close with the raising of the official Handover flag on the front of the Guildhall. The flag will be one of over 500 delivered to locations including HM Armed Forces, embassies around the world, city halls, British Council offices and Foreign and Commonwealth offices.

Amongst the locations in the UK, Olympic Handover flags will be raised at landmark areas such as Unst in the Shetland Isles, the most northerly point in the UK, and Land’s End in Cornwall, the most southerly point.  Flags will also be raised at Lowestoft, the most easterly town in England and the Isles of Scilly, the most westerly point.  

Chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee, Sebastian Coe said, ‘When the Mayor of London accepts the Olympic Flag on 24 August, the eyes of the world will turn to London and the UK as the next summer Host City.   It is a very important and exciting moment for us, and we want as many people as possible to join in the Handover celebrations.  We are delighted that so many local authorities share our excitement and are proudly displaying the Olympic Handover Flag to mark this very special moment on our journey to 2012.”

Cllr Patricia Stallard, Winchester City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture and Sport, added, “While the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 are happening in London, there’s strong support for them throughout the length and breadth of the country.  More than 400 councils have arranged parties and flag-raising events for August 24 to mark the start of an exciting four years.   “Winchester City Council, Hampshire County Council and our partners locally are already investing in sports facilities and promoting healthier living to ensure the legacy of the Olympic Games will be long-lasting. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for every part of the country to enjoy a boom in business, tourism and sporting excellence, and Winchester is ready to seize that opportunity.”

Organisers of the Big Picnic are keen to hear from local young people (aged 8 and above) who would like to form part of the ‘junk drumming’ band leading the procession from North Walls to the Guildhall.  Anyone interested should contact event co-ordinator Sarah Moore at Winchester City Council on 01962 848 231 or for further details.