London Evening Standard, 18th May 2012
The Evening Standard’s torchbearers told of their excitement at the prospect of carrying the flame as it arrived in Britain today.
The group of “unsung heroes” said they would cherish their moment and hoped the relay would raise excitement about the Olympics and boost the nation’s morale.
The first of the torchbearers, who were chosen to carry the flame for 300 metres of the Lloyds TSB London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay from tens of thousands of readers’ nominations, will be Victoria Swain, who will be carrying the torch in Bristol on Wednesday.
The Territorial Army bomb disposal expert from Chatham, Kent, said: “It’s an opportunity I wasn’t expecting. To carry the torch is definitely a story to tell everyone.
“I’ll probably be thinking about the Olympics as I carry it. I’m looking forward to seeing the Games and I’m really hoping we’ll do well this year.”
Help for Heroes campaigner Jessica Cheesman, 59, from New Malden, said she would be thinking of her son Stephen Vause, 24, who was badly injured serving in Afghanistan as she carries the torch in Rochester, Kent.
She said: “I’m really excited about carrying the torch. As we get closer to the Games it’s becoming more and more exciting.
“The symbolism and excitement of the torch makes me so chuffed to have been picked.
“I’ll definitely be thinking of Stephen, the Help for Heroes team and the others who probably aren’t here to see the torch or run with it themselves.
“My hopes for the Olympics are that we put on the fabulous show I know we can put on, that it all goes well and that we win lots of medals.”
Kevin Craig, 40, who runs a PR company in Lambeth, will be running with the flame in the City of London on July 26, the day before it arrives in the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony.
He said he would be inspired by the memory of his friend Sarah’s mother Elizabeth Panton, who died in 2007 in a bus crash which also injured Sarah and her daughter Pollyanna.
He said: “It makes me very proud as a born-and-bred Londoner, but I’m very nervous about being the first person in its history to drop it. I’m hugely proud and inspired by the other stories of torchbearers and what they’ve done.”
Major Fiona Grist, 39, a matron at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst and who has served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan, said her husband Matthew, 38, and daughter Tilly, seven, would be travelling to Wallingford, Oxfordshire.
She said: “Hype for the Olympics is really beginning to build up, it’s going to be really good for the whole country. It will be a real boost for tourism, the country and good for morale.”
Also running with the torch is Jaco van Gass, who lost his left arm and part of his left leg when he was blown up by the Taliban while serving in Afghanistan. He is currently on an expedition to Everest base camp.
For more information about Lloyds TSB’s support of the Olympic Torch Relay and London 2012 visit lloydstsb.com/london2012