An open top bus, carrying Christian worship on almost the whole of the route taken by the Olympic Torch, has finally ended its historic 65 day journey. Having left Land’s End on May 19, it arrived in London last week, greeted by cheers and flashing cameras from the crowds.
Dubbed the ‘Praise Bus, the half open double-decker was host to over a 100 musicians and singers. They brought worship to the streets as bus travelled more than 8,500 miles through England, Scotland and Wales.
As a result, Christian-inspired music by solo singers, choirs and bands was heard by around one million people as they lined the streets to welcome the Olympic Torch or came to places where the bus had stopped.
The remarkable initiative was carried out by members of the UK’s most westerly Methodist church, Escalls Methodist Chapel.
Leading the project was Christine Bonfield from the chapel who said: ‘The atmosphere in London was electric; it was absolutely amazing. People were dancing in the street – even police officers were moved by the music. It was so much fun.’
She added, ‘we had some really fantastic musicians performing on the last stretch, including a Brazilian band. Some of the musicians said being on the road was a life-changing experience. Thousands of people photographed the bus as it went around the country.’
One of the largest groups to perform was the twenty-strong White River Gospel Choir who played on the Cornwall leg of the tour. There was a steel band on the road from Birmingham to Leicester, and a performance from the Psalm Drummers between Ipswich and Chelmsford.
Managing procedures on the road throughout the entire 65 days were Allison Humphries and her husband Arthur from North Wales. Allison coordinated the musicians while Arthur had to make sure that the drivers kept at least one hour ahead of the Olympic Flame.
‘The musicians came from different churches and it was exciting to see how they interacted with each other,’ said Allison. ‘But the best thing was the reaction from the crowds. Everyone embraced the bus.’
This included thousands of school children who were often on the streets waiting for the Olympic flame well ahead of time. Allison said, ‘the children’s reaction was infectious. I would do the whole thing again and again and again, and that’s after being on the bus for 65 days!’