Chance of a lifetime for lucky few Torchbearers

Dave Taylor
Dave Taylor

LUCKY residents across Northumberland have been handed the chance of a lifetime to carry the Olympic Torch.

Around 115 Torchbearers a day will carry the flame on its UK journey, and in Morpeth four people will take on the task.

Among them is St Oswald’s Hospice chef Dave Taylor, who was nominated by his colleagues.

The 45-year-old, of Darras Hall, was chosen for his charity work, which has seen him raise around £15,000 for the hospice. He first took on the Great North Run six years ago and has taken part in numerous fund-raising runs since.

Confirmation that he had been chosen came on his birthday on Friday.

He said: “I was nominated in June, shortlisted in July and in December I was given a conditional offer. On my birthday, I received the email to congratulate me on being chosen. I said all along that I would get the email on my birthday and sure enough I did. It was fantastic. I’m proud for me, my family and for St Oswald’s because it is a great charity.

“It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing to carry the Olympic Torch. I’m going to grasp the opportunity and enjoy those 300 metres. For once I won’t be running, I’m going to take my time.”

Mr Taylor will buy his Torch after the event and take it to show pupils at Ponteland Middle School, where his 10-year-old daughter Juliette attends.

Another Morpeth Torchbearer is 25-year-old local lad Stephen Parsons.

The Northumberland Sport Development Officer was nominated by his mother for his voluntary work with Morpeth Cricket Club, where he coaches people of all ages, and Morpeth Rugby Club, where he has worked with the under 16s, senior ladies’ team and schools.

Mr Parsons has also been selected as a Games Maker to help disabled people access events during the London Games.

“Just to have been nominated to carry the Torch is quite a big thing,” he said. “It is good to get the recognition for both clubs to have people recognised for the hard work they have done and to be involved as a Torchbearer is fantastic.

“I’m one of the lucky ones who will carry the Torch in my home town. When the rugby players find out I’m sure they will arrange some sort of cheering squad and for my family to be able to come and see me carrying the Torch will be an important day.”

The other Morpeth relay runners are David Lowe, of Morpeth, and Gerda Andries, of Schelle in Belgium.

Local residents will also be doing their bit elsewhere.

They include Morpeth residents Becky Matthewson, 23, Charlotte Young, 18, James Boyd, 24, Jean Boyle, 74, Josephine Goodfellow, 50, Kate Charlton, 18, KEVI student Rachael Charlton, Stevie Matthews, 60, Brian Tinnion, 51, of Ponteland, and former Morpeth Harrier Terry Nicholls,

David Tinlin, of Morpeth, will be running in Ashington after being nominated for overcoming alcoholism to work as a volunteer at Escape Family Support.

He said: “It feels great. It is an honour to be picked. My mam is over the moon and all my friends are happy for me.

“I will carry the Torch on June 15 and on June 30 will have had seven years of being sober.”