EXCITED children welcomed the Olympic torch to their Port Glasgow school.

St John's Primary invited former pupil Tom Tracey to visit them with the torch after he recently carried the famous flame through Beith on its epic journey across the UK ahead of London 2012.

All 190 pupils got the chance to hold the torch - and Tom was asked to lead them on five laps of honour around the school, with the youngsters all carrying torches they had made in school.

Tom, 59, who was the school dux in 1964, said: "It was a very emotional occasion." He was nominated by his wife Carol Ann to be one of the 8,000 torch bearers because of his contribution to athletics in Inverclyde over many years.

The Inverclyde Athletic Club member was instrumental in reviving the defunct Inverclyde Marathon by running the course on his own for a couple of years and then became the main organiser.

The former maths teacher has raised thousands of pounds for charities by running 48 marathons around the country, including London and Edinburgh.

Now full-time Inverclyde secretary of the EIS teachers' union, Tom added: "The pupils were all very interested in the Olympics and wanted to know how I had become involved and how many holes there are in each of the torches.

"I told them there are 8,000 to mark the number of torch bearers carrying it around Britain." He told the children he didn't take up running until he was 29 and that this was his only opportunity to get involved in the Olympics.

Tom said: "I encouraged them to watch the Olympics and to take up sport themselves, and said that maybe one day they could actually represent their country in the Olympics." P7 teacher Martin Craig said the children are really enthuiastic about the looming London games and had thoroughly enjoyed Tom's visit.

He said: "It was a great day.

"They are all still talking about it." Tom has also taken the Torch to All Saints, Inverkip and Moorfoot primaries.

He said: "It's the same reaction at every school - all of the faces light up when they get the chance to hold the torch."