Slideshow: Park crowds celebrate the Paralympic spirit

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Thousands of people came from near and far to see the Paralympic Flame come to Horsham Park on Saturday.

The event, led by Horsham District Council on behalf of the Ahead of the Game partnership, included sports, a carnival and entertainment was provided by live bands throughout the day.

JPCT 26-08-12 S12341105X Paralympic Flame in Horsham. Handover of flame to Leader of HDC by Tyler Paul  and Michael Hobbs, -photo by Steve Cobb

JPCT 26-08-12 S12341105X Paralympic Flame in Horsham. Handover of flame to Leader of HDC by Tyler Paul and Michael Hobbs, -photo by Steve Cobb

Terry and Heather Panter from Hookwood came with their six-year-old son Paolo, who has cerebral palsy.

Terry said: “I have been paralysed for 30 years and I went to Stoke Mandeville and played wheelchair basketball for a number of years so I love the Paralympics.”

Heather added: “We’ve got tickets to see the basketball and athletics. Paolo went twice to the Olympics. People are behind the Paralympics and it’s exciting to see that.”

Charlie Ferrier, seven, has cerebral palsy, causing him to have quadriplegia. Watching him take part in Saturday’s cricket activities, his mother Mary said: “He desperately wants to do any form of sport he can. He does trampolining with YouCanDoIt disability sports programme which he loves.

JPCT 26-08-12 S12340134X Paralympic Flame in Horsham. St John's catholic Primary School  -photo by Steve Cobb

JPCT 26-08-12 S12340134X Paralympic Flame in Horsham. St John's catholic Primary School -photo by Steve Cobb

“He went to the Olympics and we’ve got tickets to the Paralympics so to join in today is so brilliant.

“For him to see adults achieving is great. He keeps saying ‘they look like me’. It’s the first time he has seen them in a positive role.”

Table tennis World Junior Games bronze medallist Tyler Paul was chosen as the West Sussex Flame Ambassador and travelled to London last Friday to collect the West Sussex splinter flame to bring to Horsham.

At about midday Tyler and Michael Hobbs, a local disabled athlete and volunteer, carried the Paralympic Lantern through the crowds.

Behind them was a parade including the pupils of St John’s Catholic Primary School dressed up in costume and the Blue Touch Paper samba band Boom Tribe.

In the crowd Lorna Duggleby of Nuthurst Street, Horsham, said: “It’s fantastic we have got it here, especially in Horsham as we didn’t have the Olympic Flame. This is even better. All the paralympians are an inspiration to us all.”

HDC chairman Leonard Crosbie and West Sussex County Council deputy leader Lionel Barnard welcomed Tyler to the stage with the lantern.

On the day Mr Crosbie said: “I think it has been fantastic. I was concerned about the weather but I needn’t have worried. I’m amazed by the number of people and the number of activities and the groups getting involved. It’s magnificent.

“The district and county council have worked very well together on this.

“Also it’s an opportunity for people and groups that do all the hard work during the year to come down and enjoy themselves and show us what they can achieve.”

This week he added: “I am immensely proud of what was achieved on Saturday at the Paralympic Flame Celebration event in Horsham Park.

“With Horsham District Council working in partnership with Ahead of the Game, a great day was put on in Horsham to welcome the piece of the Flame for this historic event.

“The public, who were there in their thousands, gave very warm and spontaneous support to the entire occasion.”

Mr Barnard said: “The crowds who turned out to welcome the Flame and to enjoy the celebration of local sports and arts in Horsham Park made for a fantastic day and a wonderful curtain raiser for the Paralympic Games this week.”