Vale’s burning desire to shine ahead of Games

Olympics 2012 stock picture.
Olympics 2012 stock picture.

A TEAM of 30 torch bearers are set to carry one of the most iconic sporting symbols across the Vale in the summer, it has been announced.

In July, the Olympic Flame will pass through Aylesbury, Stoke Mandeville, Waddesdon, Winslow and Whitchurch.

People in the district have been urged to come along and experience the excitement of the relay on July 9, after the route was unvieled.

This week Councillor John Cartwright, leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council, said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and a tremendous honour and privilege for people in Aylesbury Vale to see the world’s most iconic sporting symbol on their doorsteps.

“I’d urge as many people as possible to come out and cheer our torch bearers as they carry the flame through the district.”

The torch will visit more than 1,000 villages, towns and cities during the relay, with more than 8,000 people carrying it on its journey.

Martin McElhatton, chief executive of WheelPower, owners of Stoke Mandeville Stadium, said: “We are delighted that the Olympic torch will visit the birthplace of the Paralympics Games, where so much paralympic sport continues to take place today.”

Among the torch bearers from Aylesbury is Richard Bazeley, who got the nod for his impressive charity fundraising efforts.

The 29-year-old, who will be carrying the torch in Aylesbury, said: “I’m really excited and can’t wait to do it, it’s a real honour.

“I nominated myself but never expected to be successful. But you have to be in it to win it.

“In my nomination I had to talk about a cause which I was passionate about and how I had used that to inspire other people.

“In 2005 my mother Margaret had breast cancer, she’s survived and has the all clear now but at the time it was very frightening and made me realise how helpless I was, and how I had to rely on other people, the doctors and nurses.”

This experience spurred on 29-year-old Richard to raise money for Breakthrough Breast cancer and he took part in the Great North Run, raising £1,300 in 2009. From this he caught the running bug and this year he’s competing in the London Marathon in April in aid of Visually Impared Children taking Action (VICTA); and in the Great North Run again in September, in aid of Breakthough Breast Cancer.

Richard said: “I was told in December that I had been nominally chosen to be a torch bearer, then had to go through clearance checks before it was finally confirmed last week. The exact location where I will be running in Aylesbury has yet to be confirmed, but every torch bearer will run for 300 metres.”

The Mandeville School will host the lunchtime stop, giving convoy organisers an opportunity to take refreshment.

Wherever possible community torch bearers will run their stretch within one hour of their nominated address so that friends and family can cheer them on. However, some of the torch bearers running through Aylesbury come from as far away as Mexico and Los Angeles.

Additionally, people from Aylesbury are running through towns and villages in Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire and in Milton Keynes.

Katrina Blunt from Pitstone was chosen for her services to the community, in particular her work with Windmill Preschool in Ivinghoe where she is chairman of the management committee. She worked to secure new premises and improve every aspect of the preschool, and took part in a half marathon to raise much needed funds.

She will run her 300 metre Olympic torch stint in Luton.

Mrs Blunt, aged 33, said: “I’m so proud to be carrying the Olympic torch. All the hard work at preschool has been worth it to secure the future of preschool for all the children of Pitstone, Ivinghoe and the surrounding area as they start their life in education. And now to be recognised with the honour of being a torch bearer is the icing on the cake.”