Torchbearers speak of their Olympic pride
People from Stone are celebrating today after being chosen as torchbearers for the London 2012 Torch Relay. The torch may not be passing through the town but some inspirational local figures will be playing their part in the event.
Marathon supremo and artist Rita Banks, Stone SP Cricket Club bowler George Hawbrook, charity fundraiser Russell Cox and leisure centre manager Duncan Carey will all be carrying the Olympic torch on part of its journey around the UK en route to the opening ceremony on 27th July.
RITA BANKS, a member of Stone Master Marathoners and prolific artist, was the first woman to run 100 marathons and is still an active runner today. She once ran 52 marathons in a single year. She’ll be carrying the torch on 31st May as it leaves Stoke-on-Trent on its way to Crewe.
The 68-year-old told BBC Radio Stoke this morning: “It’s brilliant! I bet it’ll go in an absolute flash. I’m certainly not going to sprint the 300m, I’ll make it last! This ranks exceptionally high on my list of achievements. It made my day when I heard I’d been chosen.”
GEORGE HAWBROOK, aged 17, a bowler for Stone SPCC and Stafford College student, will be carrying the torch in Crosby on 1st June.
George was nominated by the English Cricket Board after he was named Young Volunteer of the Year by the ECB last year for his coaching and grounds work at the Lichfield Road club.
He said: “I’m so proud to be chosen and I’m really looking forward to it. My family and friends will be travelling up to see me carrying the torch. I’ve known since December that I’d be a torchbearer so I’ve had to keep it to myself until now. I’m glad the news is out now so I can talk about it!”
RUSSELL COX competes in half-marathons, iron men events and over triathlons to raise awareness and funds for the Everyman Charity after he fought off testicular cancer in 2007. He will be carrying the torch through Crewe on 31st May.
His nomination reads: “Russell has overcome a life-threatening illness that rocked him and is giving back to life that he has been once again been given the chance to live. He is an extremely fit young man, determined to make this world a better place and a credit to this country.”
Russell set up the Team Everyman charity in Stone in 2010 and performed alongside team members in 25 triathlon events. He’s also been acting as an ambassador for the Everyman charity in his spare time, visiting schools, colleges and businesses in the Midlands and North West to spread the message about male cancer with the hope that it will save lives in the future.
DUNCAN CAREY has worked at Alleyne’s Sports Centre for 35 years helping achieve national and regional titles in junior squash development. Duncan was instrumental in Alleyne’s Squash Club being the first in the country to receive the National Governing Body’s Gold Accreditation, The Rex Guppy Millennium Award and the Gold Club Charter.
In 2001 Duncan was awarded the Staffordshire Newsletter Special Contribution to Sport Award for his services to sport. He has also contributed his time to the Royal Lifesaving Society, going into local schools to deliver open water safety awareness and running a lifesaving club for the young people of Stone and the surrounding areas.
On hearing the news, Duncan said: “I have been involved in sport all my life and this is such an amazing honour. I was delighted to hear I had been one of the successful nominations to be carrying the Olympic torch. This really does top the lot!”
Stone swimming club chairman Richard West nominated Duncan and said: “He is a popular and well-respected figure who has always tried to provide the best sporting facilities for the Stone area and has undertaken a lot of voluntary work over many years, which have included sitting on various committees at a regional and national level. He enjoys great relations with many local sporting clubs and inspires others to lead a healthier lifestyle by promoting many initiatives for different groups across the community.”
There’s lots more information about the Olympic Torch Relay at www.london2012.com/olympic-torch-relay-map. There is lots of local information on the Staffordshire County Council and Stafford Borough Council websites.