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Get on the streets to cheer Olympic Torch
DOZENS of inspirational people from across the area – and overseas – have been chosen to carry the Olympic torch through Evesham and Broadway on Sunday.
The flame is due to arrive in Evesham shortly after 11.20am and the only Evesham resident to carry the torch through the town is Fred Kaler.
The 76-year-old, who is chairman of the Evesham and District Pensioners Association, has spearheaded a number of campaigns highlighting issues for local senior citizens and has worked closely with Worcestershire County Council and the NHS.
He is on the select committee for Age UK, represents older people in the Evesham Market Town Partnership and has campaigned against the removal of wardens from sheltered housing.
His work has not gone unnoticed in the town - last year he received the Evesham Mayor’s civic award for his services to the town.
“I’m quite excited about it,” he said. “And at my age I think it’s quite a privilege. I just hope it doesn’t rain.
“When I was asked if I would accept the nomination they said that there had been over 1,000 applicants in my age group. I was amazed.
I still haven’t got over it. I think it will probably sink in when I have to go to meet the security people in the morning [Sunday].
“One of the good things to come out of it is I’ve been invited to go to Harvington First School on Monday and go round each classroom.”
Meanwhile, Joann Simon, aged 48, a mum-of-two who has raised more than £125,000 for children’s charity Dreams Come True, said: “Just to be nominated is amazing. As I fund-raise for a national charity we can’t all be near home.
“Anyone who’s running and who does stuff locally means they have a right to run for their local area.
“Evesham isn’t too far, it’s not like it’s miles away. Just to do it is amazing. I just hope I don’t drop the torch.”
Louis Wilson, who lives in Cheltenham, said that he never expected to be chosen as a torchbearer.
The 13-year-old who suffered with Idiopathic Thrombocytapaenia – an abnormally low platelet count – never let his condition stop him playing sport and he gained a black belt in karate at the age of ten.
He said: “I didn’t believe it at first. It’s just amazing – I can’t wait. Not many people get to do that. It’s something I’ll remember forever.”
Tewkesbury School pupil Max Theyer, who lives in nearby village The Leigh, said he was very proud to be carrying the torch.
The 14-year-old was nominated by his mum after helping out when his gran died from cancer four years ago and because of his work as a member of St John’s Ambulance. He said: “I feel very proud. It gives you that British feeling.”
Nathan Fisher, aged 28, lives in Lydney, in the Forest of Dean, and is a worldclass powerlifter.
For the last 13 years he has competed in many competitions and is Welsh, English and Scottish champion. He also won a gold, silver and two bronze medals at the Special Olympics powerlifting competition in Athens last year.
He said: “It’s a pretty amazing thing to be one of the 8,000 torchbearers. I’m pleased to be doing it, it’s a huge honour. There’s a coachload of people going from the Forest.
“I’m just happy to be doing it in Evesham because the torch is not going through the Forest.”
Also carrying the flame is Ezeigbo Damson, from Lagos, Nigeria, Hassan Mehdi, from Abuja, Nigeria and Haku Shah.
After leaving Evesham, the flame will go through Wickhamford, where 85-year-old Malvern woman Moira Starkey will be carrying it.
The inspirational figure has raised more than £10,000 for charity.
It is due to arrive in Broadway at about 12.10pm. Courtney Taylor can hardly contain her excitement when she talks about carrying the Olympic torch through Broadway.
The heroic year eight pupil at Chipping Campden School was nominated by her proud mum whose life she saved during a house fire which broke out at their home in Moreton in February 2008.
Despite being only nine years old at the time, brave Courtney raised the alarm and awoke her mother when she heard glass breaking downstairs just after 4am.
The entire ground floor was already engulfed in flames forcing Courtney and her mother to flee the fire by jumping from an upstairs window.
Courtney, who lives in Broadwell, near Moreton, said she feels privileged to have been chosen.
“I can hardly believe that it's really happening,” she said. “This will be an amazing experience and a special occasion I will always remember.”
Also carrying the flame through Broadway is father-of- four David Pitron, who lives in Penn, just outside Beaconsfield.
He said: “I’m incredibly proud to get the chance to do it knowing that so many people were nominated. To do it is just amazing. Our four young boys are very excited about the Olympics - I’m really excited about having them in the crowd.”
Joining him is 13-year-old Gareth Picken who suffers with spina bifida and hydrocephalus.
At the age of seven, he represented Great Britain in a mainstream gymnastics display team at the World Gymnaestrada in Austria.
His confidence and love of competitive sport helped him enter and win Blue Peter’s Postcard to Beijing competition and he took part in the Closing Ceremony of the Paralympics.
Inspired by British Paralympian swimmer Eleanor Symmonds, he took up competitive swimming and in February this year he won four gold medals and a silver medal at the National Junior Disability Swimming Championship.
Gareth said: “I’m proud and so happy to have been chosen. If it’s anything like it was in Cheltenham I think it will be a really good experience.
It definitely brings the community together. I hope it will happen in Broadway.
It’s something I will remember for a long time.”
Juliette Cumberbatch is travelling over from her home in Brooklyn, New York, to be a torchbearer in Broadway – her first visit to the UK.
She said it was appropriate she is carrying the torch in Broadway and be part of a big production as there is a Broadway in New York,which is a famous theatre district. “There are shows and productions here all the time,” she said, “But not like the one I’m going to be involved in on July 1.”
Her passion for running started when she was a young girl and continued through high school and college.
After being diagnosed with cancer nine years ago she decided that when she was strong enough to restart her workouts, she would start taking part in races for good causes.
“This is truly making a dream come true.
“My heart is full whenever I think of the honour that I have been given.”
Graphic designer Steven Storey, who lives in Bar Hill, just outside Cambridge, is another of our Broadway torchbearers.
The 47-year-old, who is profoundly deaf, was nominated by his boss after being involved in several charity fundraising causes.
Four years ago he co-founded and is a trustee of a charity, Andy’s Ark, which aims to help disadvantaged and disabled young people to gain work through hands-on training and education.
The father of one said: “I’m very excited, humbled and very proud to have been chosen.
The atmosphere should be really special and I’ll be representing our country as a whole to the world.”
Also carrying the flame through Broadway is 51- year-old Adetokunbo Ojeikere from Lagos, Nigeria.