...on the way back to the DCMS offices we were stopped twice. Once by a lady who said that "as a member of the general public - I think you, your family and your little boy are fabulous" and then by another who said pretty much the same but was lucky enough to get one of Evan's (by now) "trademark hugs" - we also passed a couple of girls who were wearing the polo-shirts we had seen around DCMS, so had been helping out, and they waved and said "Hi Evan....". I explained to Joe from Look North that I'm often just known as "Evan's Dad" on many occasions. I don't mind - don't mind that at all.
Tom from Yokshire Gold commented that he couldnt believe it was only 9:40 - I agreed, it felt like mid-afternoon, but there was plenty more to experience.
The DCMS offices were full of post-ceremony euphoria and there was a great buzz around the place as other ambassadors picked up their flame transportation units (essentially a bucket...) - but we were soon in taxis heading off to Kings Cross where we were met by East Coast again who escorted us to the First Class lounge for a very quick drink and a bite to eat before we got on the train back north.
As we were settling down, Amy asked me if we needed her to get everyone to give us some space for a while. Did we want the Train executives, the TV crew, the other TV crew and the Radio presenter to give us some time alone. If you had asked me that question a couple of weeks ago I would have said yes, absolutely, but not today. It didnt feel like we needed it.
I was sat at the back of the party and was able to see everyone bustling around ahead of us - these were all people who we had known only briefly - maybe only for a day or so - but for now we considered them friends and we were truly grateful to have made all of their acquaintances. Of course, they were there to cover the story - but I think they enjoyed it while it happened. I think Evan's Big Journey does that - people cross it's path and they get drawn in, often leaving with a smile on their face and also usually a little orange wristband. It's brought us the most amazing experiences and despite the reasons why it started it, it's been the trip of a lifetime since. One of the guys got in touch afterwards and commented that; "Every now and then a job comes along that makes me think I love my job. This was one of them". That means a lot.... an awful lot.
There was still a little bit of time for a last couple of recordings - and Sam really got stuck in "playing" with some of the cameras - which the owners very kindly but nervously let him do. This was a really good bit of the trip - it hadn't just been about Ev, the other kids play their part as well. Sam is a real live-wire and is inquisitive to the extreme so we are constantly on "Sam-watch" and "Where's Sam?" is a constant phrase we use but one of the guys put it well - "he's lovely, so energetic, I could watch him all day!". Evan had said to Chris Holmes earlier in the day that he was "Mass-destruction Sam" - but in a good way, of course. On the other hand, Maya is generally quiet in company but really shone - it cant be easy for her, she hardly saw her Mum for 6 weeks when Ev was born (she was just 20 months old at the time) - and very often the focus is on her little brother - but we were really proud of her. At breakfast that morning we had grabbed a table for 5, as we usually do - forgetting in our nervous haste to get a place for Amy - but Maya spotted this and went and sat with her to ensure she wasn't on her own. Evan's purpose and drive is as much a result of this nurture as his nature.
The train journey was drawing to an end and it was quite sad - Katherine, Tina and Charlie were shooting off but Joe was sticking around and we did some brief goodbyes as we drew into the station. We exited one door and the rest of the party the other - greeting us was a real crowd of paparazzi - clicking, flashing, and beckoning us to look in one direction and then the other. Ev had walked off the train with the flame and it was quite warm and heavy. As the flashes lit up the platform, the lantern slipped from his hand....
Luckily, we had the five flames and were able to re-light from the official source. Still, a heart in mouth moment and Amy had to make a mad-dash down the platform to get the other lit one.
We then had to get to the hotel. The last few steps.
The room in the hotel was full - including some faces we knew; Grandma and Grandads, Mrs Smith (Ev's first teaching assistant) and also Tom Jones (no, not that one...) and Kate Nesbit who had played such a big part in the Walk to School. Kate had even delayed her holiday to attend - her family waiting in the car before they headed off to Scotland.
We said a quick hello to the Lord Mayor and his wife before the Town Crier began the ceremony. The flame was handed over - the flame that we had only had being safeguarding for a few hours but that we had known of for a few precious weeks was passed on. The flame that had given us another wonderful experience.
Evan's job was done. I think he had been a pretty good Flame Ambassador...
Soon the room emptied, everyone jumping on a bus that toured the flame around York and that was it. The last people left at a party that we didn't want to finish. One final last task to do - to say goodbye to our new good friend - Amy. (We knew we'd see Tom the next day...). This was her last day - her job was done and she was moving on to pastures new - I can't imagine how high and low she must have felt. However, she is well and truly a bona-fide member of Team Evan and i'm sure we'll keep in touch.
And with that we were done. Well, nearly - as we got into the car I switched to Minster FM - they had grabbed me on the platform and I'd done an interview on the run. We tuned in just as the news came on and there I was, trying to put into words how I felt as we dashed out of the station. We listened to the piece as we sat in the traffic - starting to realise what we had been very lucky to be part of. Slightly frustrating to be in a traffic jam - we wanted to get home.... the cause of the traffic jam ? .... it was the bus carrying the flame...
We managed to get home just in time to view the clips that the guys had put together.
Look North clip
It had been the most amazing day. The most wonderful experience. The trip of a lifetime.
The biggest of big days!