Surprisingly, no local Olympic Flame torch bearers will set foot in Bloxwich and Leamore this Saturday 30 June, but excitingly, those visiting the village to relay the flame along the A34, then through Bloxwich High Street and Somerfield Road, Leamore are both varied and often from far afield – a very national and international band indeed!
We don’t know exactly where most of the torch bearers will be running to and from, but we do have the following information on each one, listed below in no particular order.
Christopher Bridgman, aged 62, is from Nantwich. He will be running from somewhere in the Wallington Heath area towards Bloxwich High Street. Chris lives in Nantwich in Cheshire. He originally trained as a teacher at Worcester, but then took a career turn and worked for Nat West for 30 years. Early retirement saw him keen to get involved in charity work on a part time basis and so he became involved with the Wingate Centre, a stand alone charity for young people with a wide range of disabilities. That was nine years ago. Now he manages the place and also wears the hat of fund raiser. Chris is really looking forward to being involved in what he describes as a memorable and very exclusive once in a lifetime experience.
Giles Birt, 49, hails from Shrewsbury. A committed Olympic enthusiast, he first offered services to Sir Bob Scott’s Manchester Olympic bid in 1992. Subsequently he moved to Shropshire and became Chairman of Wenlock Olympic Society, helped run Wenlock Olympian Games and promoted the Olympian history of William Penny Brookes in many venues from much Wenlock to Westminster. He has raised many thousands of pounds in sponsorship for the Wenlock Olympian Society, introduced many novices to the triathlon in the Games and qualified at level 1 Athletics coach. He has also assisted with coaching 9-16 year old budding athletes in the Wenlock Olympian Society.
James Dowdall, 32, lives in Telford but is the son-in-law of a Walsall Council worker. James has been raising money for both local and national charities for a few years now. Having taken up running as a way of keeping fit and winding down after work, he started to enter races 3 years ago. As he got better and entered more races there were more opportunities to help charities along the way. Most recently has has completed a 208 mile challenge supporting Help for Heroes and Severn Hospice, a local charity raising around £500 in the process. He is about to run a 50 mile ultra marathon for Severn Hospice and plans to run the grand union canal race next year.
Kris Richardson, 16, is the most local runner, from Walsall. Kris has cerebral palsy. When he first started working with the health transition team he was shy, withdrawn and isolated. He was bullied at school and had no self confidence. Over the last 2 years he has attended all the workshops he has been offered and has become a confident and mature young man. This confidence has enabled him to move schools and he is now flourishing academically and socially. Kris has sourced his own work experience as a mechanic, which his dream job. He recently took part in a short disability awareness film entitled ‘What you lookin’ at?’ The film highlights attitudes around disability and educates the general public that people with disabilities want to be treated the same as everybody else. Carrying the torch and being part of the Olympic dream is a fitting prize for all the hard work and determination he has shown.
Prakash Pillai, aged 41, comes all the way from Lusaka, in Zambia, Africa. He has volunteered in the Zambian National Literacy programme, which gives opportunity for the illiterate to explore the world of reading and writing. He is currently supporting subordinates to continue education, to achieve better career growth. A believer in the power of motivation for the under privileged, Prakash believes that anything one sets their mind to, is certainly achievable.
Seety Naidoo, from Rose Hill (Mauritius, not Willenhall!), is 45. Seety has been a member of the Rotary International for the past five years. He has been actively involved in Social Services in Mauritius, Madagascar and Tanzania during his Career. In Madagascar, he has led several fundraising campaigns for social projects such as building new schools, provision of medical supplies and distribution of food during famine. Seety, through his company, participated in the sponsorship of Bruno Julie, the only Olympic medalist from Mauritius during the last game in Beijing.
Thierry Laurent, 43, has his home in Roswell, Georgia, USA. He has been working at IHG for the last 14 years and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease about 4 years ago. In many years at IHG he has always supported the Make a Wish Foundation, and now more recently he has become a member of the Michael J. Fox Foundation. He is also a participating member in a clinical trial study at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, that will determine if Creatine is a viable option for those that have PD. He has always made himself available to other people at IHG who may have Parkinson’s or family members that have PD, to try to assist them with how to best handle the disease on a day to day basis.
And on the Leamore leg (Somerfield Road to Green Lane):
Callum Pattinson, aged 14, is from Stoke on Trent. Callum’s parent said about him: ‘I would like to nominate my son for his maturity beyond his years he has shown towards his late Nan. My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer & was treated until her cancer spread to her brain. The brain mets caused severe disabilities, she ended up immobile & needing 24 hour care. Myself, & brother all provided her care but it was becoming difficult to do. This is where Callum stepped in, at no time was he asked to help to look after his beloved Nan. We were asking about a nurse to come and help but Callum knew his nan too well and knew she wouldn’t want a ‘stranger’ come to the house, this is when he said he would sit with her, initially for the odd hour but as he began to understand her illness and her needs he began to take it upon himself to do more. He stopped with her all the time, he loved spending time with her as they’ve always been so close. He would look after the gardens, help to get washed, helped her into the bathroom, cooked, cleaned and massage her swollen feet (which he often used to heave at doing!) The district nurses could not believe that a boy of 13 would put his nan above going out with friends. Callum was at her side until the very end on Valentines Day this year, he refused to leave her as she took her last breaths, he saw it through to the end. He delivered a brave eulogy at her funeral about the many fun times they had shared. He is still grieving and he says that he stills hear her calling him. He wants to make her proud even if she isn’t here.”
Tanya Fouche, 35, of Johannesburg, is all the way from South Africa! Tanya works with abandoned and abused children. Her primary focus for the past five years has been working with young HIV patients.
The Bloxwich Telegraph hopes all our readers will join us in welcoming these good people on their momentous visit to Bloxwich and Leamore this Saturday! You’ll see our Editor Stuart Williams on Bloxwich High Street with his camera – don’t forget to say hello!
DOWNLOADABLE ROUTE MAP
You can download a Route Map poster for the Olympic Torch Relay route through Walsall Metropolitan Borough, via this link:
Pictures and stories are presented courtesy of the London 2012 website, where you can find information on the majority of torch bearers in most areas including Walsall and Willenhall. Additional information was kindly provided by Walsall Council.