Press release issued: 21 May 2012
Great George, the nine-and-a-half-ton bell in the tower of the University of Bristol’s Wills Memorial Building, will ring out to mark the historic journey of the Olympic flame passing through Bristol. Wednesday [23 May] will also be a momentous occasion for three specially selected torchbearers from the University, who will take part in the relay as it winds through Henleaze in front of excitable crowds, anxious to catch a glimpse of the famous flame.
Also contributing to the festivities is the University of Bristol’s hot air balloon, which will be inflated on College Green at 5.54am to coincide with the relay’s departure from the town centre.
The bell will ring for 15 minutes from 7.50am to coincide with the torch being carried from Abbots Leigh, across the Suspension Bridge, through Clifton Village and up to the Downs.
It’s being rung by a team of bell ringers who swing the bell using its rope and mounted wheel to produce a louder and richer sound than when the clock hammer usually chimes. Such ringing is saved for special occasions such as the Royal Wedding last year and the University’s Charter Day, which also happens to be on Wednesday.
The University’s trio of torchbearers will have their moment in the spotlight from 8.38am when Teaching Fellow Shirley Hume strides out along Henleaze Road. The 61-year-old was nominated by fellow staff members for her sporting achievements, dedication to her students and bravery in overcoming skin cancer.
She will hand over to law student Georgie Twigg, who has just been named in the GB ladies hockey team for London 2012, at 8.45am.
Fellow student Bettina Urban, who was jointly nominated to be a torchbearer by the Students’ Union and Bristol University in recognition of her voluntary work, will carry the flame from 8.49am.
All three have said it will be “one of the most exciting moments” of their lives.
The university representatives are among the 8,000 torchbearers who will carry the Olympic Flame across the UK in 70 days. Starting in Land’s End on Friday, the Olympic Flame’s journey will reach more than 1000 cities, towns and villages across the UK, with 95 per cent of the UK population being within one hour’s distance of this historic event.
Each torchbearer will carry the flame for an average of 300m before the Olympic Flame finishes its epic journey and arrives at the Olympic Stadium in London on 27 July to mark the start of the Olympic Games. For the full Olympic Torch Relay route, please click here.
Great George was cast in 1924 and is reputed to be the finest E-flat bell in Europe and one of the deepest-toned bells in the world. It is the sixth-largest bell in England and is believed to be the third-largest that can be rung by hand. It is 6ft 9” high and 8ft 4” in diameter and can be heard 12 miles away. It is named after George V, George Oatley and George Wills.
The University of Bristol Society of Change Ringers (UBSCR)
The University of Bristol Society of Change Ringers was founded in 1943. The 300 plus membership is made up of current and past students and staff of the University of Bristol. Members of UBSCR can be found all over the world.
University of Bristol,
Bristol, BS8 1TH, UK
Tel: +44 (0)117 928 9000