Saturday, July 14, day 57 of the Olympic Torch Relay saw the flame travel from Bournemouth, through the New Forest, to the Isle of Wight and end in Southampton where it was met by a huge crowd of tens of thousands. But who were Southampton’s Torchbearers and how did the relay plan out?
The torch arrived at Southampton’s docks, on the Red Eagle, from the Isle of Wight, at 5.50pm. Retired social worker Hilary Corrick 68, took the flame. Hilary is a member of Southampton Group ‘The Running Sisters,’ a running group made up solely of women and has gone from being unable to run to being one of its most active members taking on the role of club secretary and also acting as a trainer.
At 5.56pm Hilary handed the flame on to Chris Goodwin, a blind triathlete who won a Silver medal in 2010. In his nomination Chris stated “By telling my story at local schools and on blogs I have inspired others to realise the potential in themselves, and take on the challenges that sport presents.” Paratriathlon is not a sport for London 2012 so carrying the flame meant all the more to this torchbearer who completed his leg of the relay with his chaperone jogging alongside.
Jim Whitmarsh, took the torch from Chris at around 6.10pm. Jim ‘runs marathons!’ and according to his nomination has raised £2500 for a cot death charity following the death of his nephew in 1999 and continues to run with Eastleigh running club raising money for MacMillan cancer support and diabetes charities.
Jim passed the flame onto Bruce Elkins from Totton, founder of the New Forest Children’s Triathlon which over the past ten years has developed to the point that this year over 260 children took part in 3 different age groups.
Bruce handed the flame to 19-year-old active volunteer Christopher Russell from Romsey. Christopher has volunteered for a number of different outlets including becoming the youngest volunteer at his local police station, recently becoming a Special Constable. Chris also volunteered for the George’s Trust Charity Fun Day & the Romsey Sports Fair where he gave free tennis lessons to children to encourage them to take up the sport.
At 6.23pm local athlete and running coach Ian Chalk took the torch. Over the past few years Ian has used his coaching skills to help the wider community working to help promote healthy living and with older people and the disabled which required extra specialist training. As a result of all his work including one-to-one sessions in people’s homes, Ian is well respected in the local community and by medical experts.
Alice Constance 29 took the flame next and carried it into St. Mary’s Stadium, home of Southampton Football Club or the Saints. Alice was nominated by the British Olympic Association for her inspirational swim in the Serpentine and her run around one of the Channel Islands. She passed the flame to Nicholas Nuttall, 53 from Southwater, pitchside. Nicholas was nominated by the International Olympic Committee for his work at the UN Environment Programme.
William ‘Jim’ Dowdall aged 86 then took the flame. At the age of 71 Jim had a mini stroke and as part of his recovery made his goal to run the London Marathon which he did at 73. Since then he has gone on to complete 8 marathons raising nearly £16k for a local cancer charity in the process. His efforts have been rewarded with an MBE and a Local Hero Award.
Kyle Jones took the flame next, at around 6.50pm. His nomination described him as being ‘full of enthusiasm, cheerful, friendly and wonderfully caring of his peers.’ Kyle has Cerebral Palsy, Hearing Loss and Visual difficulties when playing inclusive sports, but this doesn’t deter him as he is noted as having ‘huge sporting potential and has excelled at sport at a school level.’
Kyle passed the torch to Harry Stickland Chairman of the National Youth Panel for hockey. Harry is an active volunteer helping at over 50 hockey events including the Junior Men’s World Cup in Kuala Lumpar and the Youth Olympics in Singapore.
At around 7pm Harry passed on the flame to the last torchbearer of the day, Gillian Rose. Gillian took up running after the death of her husband to cancer 5 years ago, her nomination states that ‘she excelled at it, she also found it made her ‘feel alive.” Over the past 10 years Gillian has worked for the charity ‘Solent Mind’ helping people with mental health issues get back to work.
Watch out for exclusive footage of Wessex Scene and SUSUtv reporter Matthew Higgins’ interview with Gillian coming in the next few days.
Gillian ran with the flame all the way to the evening celebration, in Mayflower Park. The event featured a variety of entertainment staged by LOCOG and the three Presenting Partners of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay – Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung – with support from Southampton Council.
The line-up included music from Wretch 32, a dance troupe who will provide a unique fusion of street performance, theatre and sport and dance act Twist and Pulse as well as entertainment from local acts Woodlands Community School and Art Asia Dhol Drummers staged by Southampton City Council.
Towards the end of the two-hour show, Gillian Rose lit a celebration cauldron on stage which enabled the Olympic Flame to be seen by the audience.