2012 was the year Torbay and South Devon was well and truly put on the map with a host of high-profile events, writes Torbay Council's executive head of Residents and Visitor Services Sue Cheriton. The Olympics may have been taking place in London but thousands and thousands of people took to our local streets to watch the Olympic Torch pass through. The Queen's Jubilee had us in the party mood — and partying was the name of the game as music-lovers invaded Paignton Green as Radio One launched its summer programme. They were just three events which made 2012 a year to remember. Sue Cheriton (right) and her team at Torbay Council played a massive part in making the year the success it was. Here, the executive head of Residents and Visitor Services gives her verdict on the past 12 months.
WHAT a year we have had in Residents and Visitor Services. In addition to their daily tasks, each team also managed to deliver some the most amazing and complex events Torbay has ever seen.
The main focus of celebration was the Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Who would have thought that we could be so patriotic in Torbay with a record number of people attending both events?
It all started back in May where over a year of planning, conducted in strict secrecy, culminated in our Big Olympic Weekend.
Radio 1 wanted to be involved in the Torch Relay's start and after years of persistence by Torbay, the national radio station chose us to host a major dance party on Paignton Green the night after the torch arrived in the UK.
The Radio 1 team said that the event was one of best organised partnerships they had undertaken in recent years.
The Torch Relay took place the following day where it travelled over eight miles through Paignton and Torquay, one of the longest runs in the country.
Celebrations were held on Torre Abbey Meadows and the Sands. The Sports Development Team provided an amazing display of sporting activity and the Royal Yachting Association organised a torch relay on water with a 1948 replica Olympic Torch sailed across to Weymouth.
A record 100,000 took part in the Torbay celebrations and The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games sent special thanks to the team for doing an amazing job.
The Jubilee Weekend followed with four days of celebrations and included beacon lighting at three locations and a massive fireworks display. This was only made possible with kind sponsorship from the Rotary Club and DeVey's Fair who also dressed the Torquay seafront in red, white and blue.
Torquay then hosted a stage of the Halfords Tour Series with 50 pro cyclists competing for the coveted national title. The event also provided community and regional races organised by the Mid Devon Cycling Club, whose support helped to make the event possible. Over 12,000 spectators attended the race with 500,000 viewing the event on ITV4.
My small team were amazing and I was so proud of what they achieved. Everyone in Residents and Visitor Services played a part. Without the parks and highways departments and the parking, marketing, event, sports and arts development officers — none of this would have happened.
I was also very proud that the team won a number of awards this year. Two Special Recognition Event Awards one at the English Riviera and South Devon Tourism and Hospitality Awards and the other at the Torbay Sports Awards. The team was also presented with a National Customer Service Week Team Award.
When the Mayor was elected, one of his key objectives was to form an Events Forum to attract events that had a positive direct economic impact on local businesses.
The 2012 events provided a tremendous feelgood factor as well as giving local businesses a real boost and this has reinforced the message that the English Riviera is a great place to live, work and visit.
We also owe a great deal of gratitude to a number of partners including the police, ambulance and fire services, the English Riviera Tourism Company, South Devon College, 999 Cadets, Mid Devon Cycling Club, all the Torbay Yacht Clubs, the RYA, the Rotary Clubs, the DeVey family, local businesses and retailers.
Special thanks also goes to all the residents who came out to celebrate and participate in the great events programme of 2012.