A flame lit by the Queen is to be carried into the Millennium Mass at the NEC Stadium in Birmingham on 29 May. The red glass and gilt torch was lit by Her Majesty at Tower Bridge in London on New Year's Eve. Millions of television viewers around the world witnessed the spectacular ceremony. Since then it has been centre stage at many events around the country, including a service at Norwich Cathedral attended by Princess Alexandra, the Hon Lady Ogilvy and Sir Angus Ogilvy. The Millennium Flame was originally lit on 28 May 1999 by Sr Regina, from the Sisters of Mercy convent in Sunderland. The ceremony was held at the Stadium of Light before a Christian gathering of 20,000. Afterwards the flame was kept alight in a miner's lamp at the local headquarters of the National Union of Mineworkers. The lamp used to transport the flame was chosen as the Stadium is built on the site of an old colliery. The flame was then used to light the beacon at 'Children of the New Millennium', an event attended by many Catholic primary schools and filmed by BBC Songs of Praise in Birmingham last June. The then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Dr Mo Mowlem MP passed the flame from the children of Birmingham to the children of Omagh, launching the Northern Ireland Millennium Festival. At sunrise on Easter morning, the flame was used to light a beacon at an open air service on Pepperbox Hill overlooking Salisbury Cathedral - marking the defining moment of the Christian faith - the Resurrection. In between public events, the flame is kept at the parish church of St Nicholas in Great Yarmouth. It will remain alight there until 31 December 2000. The project has been funded by the Millennium Commission. The organiser and chairman of the project, Bruno Peek, told ICN: "The flame is one of the oldest forms of communication in the world. It symbolises peace, friendship, hope and unity. We felt this was an appropriate way of marking the New Millennium."
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