The communities of Yorkshire and the Humber finally bade farewell to the Olympic Torch this week after a true Yorkshire welcome.
Following months of meticulous planning, the joint regional policing operation to ensure everyone's safety during the relay has been hailed a huge success.
Officers from all four forces of the Yorkshire and Humber took part in what was the largest joint-policing operation ever undertaken in the region.
Glorious sunshine brought thousands of spectators out across North Yorkshire and the City of York during the Olympic Flame's three-and-a-half day visit.
Assistant Chief Constable Iain Spittal, who led the North Yorkshire Police part of the operation, said: "North Yorkshire and City of York truly shone during the Olympic Torch Relay and showed the world what a fantastic place it is. And, more importantly, what amazing and proud people live in our communities.
"I would like to pay tribute to everyone who has worked with us over the past 18 months to ensure the safety of this brilliant event. From local councils, other emergency services, volunteers and the Olympic organisers. Everyone involved has worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth and safe event for all.
"The biggest thanks go to the crowds of people who lined the streets and the Torch Bearers, without whom none of this would have been possible.
"For most of us, this was a once-in-a-lifetime event and presented us with a unique opportunity to part of a world-wide event. As a police force, working side-by-side with our regional colleagues, we feel privileged to have been a part of it."
Meet the bikers
The police motorcycle escorts were a big hit with the crowds along the route. The responsibility for leading the entire convoy through North Yorkshire and the City of York fell to five of North Yorkshire Police's most experienced motorcycle officers from the Roads Policing Unit.
NYP's Traffic Constables, Richard Hammond and Mark Thompson were the first to lead the torch through the Yorkshire and Humber region when it entered the county at Hinderwell near Whitby. While the convoy travelled through the region, they alternated with NYP colleagues, TCs Martin Smith, Steve Beckwith and Traffic Sergeant Sean Grey. While officers from the other Yorkshire and Humber forces and the Metropolitan Police made up the rest of the escort.
TC Hammond is based at Scarborough Roads Policing Group:
"To form part of the motorcycle escort team with our colleagues from the rest of the Yorkshire and Humber Region was, from start to finish, a most excellent experience!
"One of the memories which will stay with me for a long time was arriving at the many towns and villages along the route and seeing thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds lining the streets, often around 10-deep, all cheering and waving. When we waved back, gave a high-five or a quick bleep of the siren, the cheers and applause was deafening! The children loved it, especially when you stopped and spoke to them or shook their hands.
"We are all experienced police motorcyclists with many years service between us so each one new instinctively what the other was doing. This combined with the top-class training and leadership which we received for the event, meant we were able to savour and enjoy the experience in a more relaxed manner.
"The atmosphere throughout the region was electric and to feel it and experience it in my very privileged role was a complete honour. I will not forget it, and am unlikely to experience anything like it again in the remainder of my service."
TC Steve Beckwith is based at Skipton Roads Policing Group:
"Having just returned from escorting the Flame across the Yorkshire and Humber region with a team of officers from all four forces, I have to say that it was an amazing experience. The size of the crowds in every town and city that we visited were unbelievable.
"Everyone was so excited to see the convoy coming, especially all the school kids lining the route and we were made welcome everywhere we went. By the time we had finished our time escorting the torch I have come to understand just how special the event has been and how much people have enjoyed it. It's been extremely enjoyable and I am proud to have been a part of that."
TC Mark Thompson is based at Thirsk Roads Policing Group:
"I have been a police motorcycle officer for 18 years and have to say, the operation to escort the relay was without doubt, the largest and most high-profile display of police joint working I have known.
"Its success is testament to the preparatory work undertaken and the enthusiasm and commitment of individual officers to that work which continued throughout the event.
"This has been a memorable event during which the motorcycle escort riders were certainly able to enjoy with the communities we travelled through.
"It was a pleasure and an honour to be closely involved. Overall it was a well-oiled machine that showed the humanity and professionalism of the police across the UK."
TC Martin Smith is based at Tadcaster and also features in the current series of Channel 5's Emergency Bikers:
"For me the experience has been a total pleasure, I enjoyed every minute of it and it was a pleasure to see the huge diversity of people out enjoying it together, especially the youngsters and the elderly.
"It has been a total change and as you will probably have gathered, the boys on the bikes seemed to have done very well in raising the profile of what a policeman is and can be.
"The Olympic Torch Relay is unique and a once-in-a-life time experience, I'm quietly pleased to have been part of it."
And last but not least, leader of the pack TS Sean Grey:
"To coin a phrase, 'It's been one of the highlights of my career'. To be part of such a once-in-a-lifetime experience has been a great privilege. The opportunity to escort the torch around the region has not been available to all and to be selected to represent NYP for this event has been a honour.
"Seeing the crowds in their thousands from all communities around the region enjoying themselves so much gave me such a high. The engagement of the public and police motorcyclists was amazing to say the least. From the school kids cheering when we were slapping hands (or in the young persons' speak 'high-fiving') and getting them sat on the bikes, to the shall-we-say older generations thanking us for our participation. To quote one: 'This is real policing - thank you'.
"Memories of the OTR are many and wide from seeing the kids faces' beaming when you are letting them sit on the police bikes, even one woman in Askew who handed over to me her (what must have been no more than a two-month-old) baby for a picture sat on the bike.
"The atmosphere on the whole route was fantastic and I would to thank all members of the public from our regions for making the relay a very memorable experience.
"Having the opportunity to work with my motorcycle colleagues from the neighbouring forces has shown what a professional and dedicated police force we have in the UK. It has been a honour and a privilege to be part of such a historic event and working with those professional officers. It makes me proud to be part of North Yorkshire Police."
11.52am - 29 June 2012