Excited torchbearers count down the hours

Stephen Parsons
Stephen Parsons

THE countdown is under way for Morpeth’s excited torchbearers.

There is just one day to go before the Olympic flame arrives in the town and those tasked with parading it are gearing up for a truly memorable once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Stephen Parsons, 25, who was nominated for his voluntary coaching work with Morpeth cricket and rugby clubs, said: “I’m a bit nervous now, but excited. After seeing some of the other torchbearers’ stories and seeing the relay on television it is sinking in that I’m one of the 8,000 and it’s getting a bit scary.

“Quite a few people know about it now and I’m being asked a lot of questions about it. Some of the cricket guys and rugby guys will be cheering me on.

“It is just going to be such a memorable moment.”

The day will be made even more special for the Northumberland Sport Development Officer as his family are travelling from across the UK and even the United States to see him carrying the Torch.

Mr Parson’s brother David and his six-year-old nephew Daniel are flying in from Boston, his brother Neil and nine-year-old nephew Jacob are travelling from Manchester and his brother Ian is coming from Leicestershire. His sister Gail will also be joining the group.

“There’s going to be quite a bit of pressure with all the family coming, but it’s going to be great,” said Mr Parsons.

“Having my two nephews there is going to be brilliant. The children won’t really know what’s going on or why I’m doing this, but they will be cheering me on nonetheless.

“Afterwards I’ll be spending time with my family because it is not that often that we get together. Unfortunately, not all of my nephews and nieces will be there though as they can’t get the time off school.”

Mr Parsons has bought the Torch he will be carrying and plans to use it for fund-raising events for the cricket and rugby clubs.

Another of the Morpeth torchbearers is David Taylor, from Darras Hall, Ponteland.

The 45-year-old chef was handed the honour after being nominated by colleagues at St Oswald’s Hospice for his extensive fund-raising efforts for the charity.

He said: “I’m ridiculously excited now — everyone is sick of me. I’m normally quite hyper anyway, but it is so close now to carrying the Torch and everybody is talking about it. It means so much to me, but also to the patients and volunteers and staff at St Oswald’s. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Mr Taylor’s ten-year-old daughter Juliette is taking the day off school to be able to see her Dad carry the flame through Morpeth town centre and other family members and friends will be cheering him on.

“I still can’t believe that I’m going to be doing this, I just feel so honoured. It’s incredible,” said Mr Taylor.

“My daughter is taking the day off school to be there with my family and friends and there is going to be patients, volunteers and staff from St Oswald’s there so there’s going to be lots of support.

“I would never have dreamed in a million years that I would be carrying the Olympic Torch through Morpeth, it is such a fantastic place to carry it. I wouldn’t be surprised if I have a little tear on the day.

“It doesn’t get bigger than this — I can’t wait.”

After the relay Mr Taylor will be celebrating with a garden party at his home.

He plans to take his Torch into local schools, including Darras Hall First, Ponteland Middle and Chantry Middle, for special assemblies about the event, his fund-raising activities and St Oswald’s Hospice.

There will be five Morpeth relay runners in total, including David Lowe, of Morpeth, and Gerda Andries, of Schelle in Belgium.

The other torchbearer has not been revealed.