Olympic Torch set to visit East Grinstead

East Grinstead has been chosen as one of the towns on next year's historic round-Britain tour of the Olympic Torch.

The torch will leave Land's End on 19 May, one day after the flame arrives from Greece, and will then be carried by 8,000 'inspirational torch bearers' on a 70-day journey of celebration around the UK.

Town Clerk Julie Holden called East Grinstead's inclusion on the torch route "an iconic moment in the town's history, which will live on in the memory of everyone who witnesses it".

Full details have yet to be released, but the torch will pass through the town on 17 July. The public will be invited to line the route, after which local school children will be invited to take part in a sports event at East Court.

Deputy Mayor Liz Bennett, who as next year's Town Mayor will perform the official welcome, said she was thrilled at the prospect of taking part in such an historic event "The Queen's Jubilee and the Olympic Games will make next year one to remember for all of us, and I will be proud and honoured to represent the town during the events planned to mark both these landmark occasions."

The torch, which is is being made by east London designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, will travel for 12 hours a day, for 70 days, before arriving at the Olympic Stadium on 27 July for the lighting of the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony.

Thousands of people throughout the UK will have the chance to cheer it on its way, along a route which will be marked by concerts, shows and other celebrations.

Of the 8,000 torchbearers, 7,200 will be chosen from among people nominated by the public, and half the places are expected to go to young people between the ages of 12 and 24.

The origins of the Olympic torch relay go back to ancient Greece, when messengers were sent out from Olympia to announce the competition dates and call for a halt to all wars during the Games. The relay was revived at the 1936 Berlin Games, and since then has grown into a popular curtain-raiser to the sporting events.

For the modern Olympic Games, the flame is lit in Olympia from the Sun's rays using a parabolic mirror and then taken on a relay around Greece before going to the country hosting the Games.