ST HELENS united for a moment of history as the Olympic Torch was carried through town in front of thousands of spectators.

Early estimates from St Helens Council suggest as many as 25,000 people turned out in the sunshine on Friday afternoon, though that initial figure was increased to nearer 40,000 later on.

They cheered, waved Union Jacks and held their own little street parties amid uplifting scenes.

From pensioners to toddlers, the crowds created a wonderful community atmosphere as they encouraged each torchbearer on their leg of the relay.

Row upon row of schoolchildren – up to 6,000 are believed to have attended - stood alongside workers and well wishers who were desperate to catch a glimpse of the once in a lifetime event.

Starting on Rainford Road, the first to carry the torch was disabled Kelly Whalley, 34, from Haresfinch, who was pushed in her wheelchair.

It passed from one proud hand to the other, until it was handed to cheerleading coach Natalie Corrigan, 23, from Thatto Heath.

Crowds were at their deepest at the Asda roundabout on Westfield Street but areas on Dentons Green Lane and Greenfield Road were also packed.

The St Helens Star's Stephen Mather, who from his seat on the London 2012 Media Truck had a first hand view of the entire relay route, said: “It was an awesome experience to witness such an atmosphere. “The crowds really exceeded expectations. St Helens did itself proud.”

More to follow

Many other St Helens community champions are carrying the torch in towns across the north west too. Share your stories and pictures by emailing