Last week I saw the Olympic Torch come through Swindon and it was a proud moment – and it has made me reflect on our county’s involvement in the greatest show on earth.
We have many Olympic hopefuls based in Wiltshire – runners, swimmers, fencers, event riders, tennis players etc. Did you know that? And that doesn’t include others who’ve got more technical roles around the event, those who’ve volunteered and those who’ve been selected to carry the Torch.
There are many individual stories around the Olympics and Paralympics which will come up every day in the local media over the coming weeks and months. But something’s missing…
Over the last few months, I’ve felt that Swindon has largely failed to become part of this great event – when it’s so close to London and easily within travelling distance of the Games. When Olympic teams are going to be based as far away as Bath, I have just felt that we aren’t getting any part of that action.
I may be wrong in this assumption. I stand to be corrected. Maybe those who are responsible for economic development, tourism etc in the town have had a grand plan which is quietly, successfully working behind the scenes.
However, I don’t think so. Why is this? We have had as much passion for this event as any other town up and down the country. Have we had a strategic, proactive business plan to attract tourists or visitors as this show rolls into our country? There seems to have been no will to harness this energy, this buzz, this opportunity.
Swindon is a great town. It’s got heritage, it’s got convenience, it’s part of one of the prettiest counties in the country, it’s got fantastic transport links – what’s not to like?
I suppose it’s too late now but I’d like to say to anyone out there who is travelling to the UK for this event – don’t dismiss Swindon, it might surprise you.