Terry the torch-bearer

Terry Nicholls, who will carry the Olympic torch.
Terry Nicholls, who will carry the Olympic torch.

A MAN who grew up in Morpeth is feeling on a high after being chosen to run with the Olympic flame.

Terry Nicholls will be one of the London 2012 torch-bearers and he will carry the beacon in a section between Edinburgh and Alnwick on June 14.

As well as teaching PE across Britain, he has climbed mountains all over the world and trained the next generation of expedition leaders as a consultant for the British Mountaineering Council.

“It was a lovely surprise to receive an email from the torch relay organisers to say that I was one of the torch-bearers,” he said.

“I remember going to the Morpeth Olympics in Grange House Field when I was a child and enjoying the races, so it’s great to have a link with the international games now.

“Once I went past the age of competing, I obviously thought that I would never be involved in an Olympics. It’s such a wonderful honour to be asked to carry the flame.”

The 70-year-old lived in Oldgate and Stobhill in his youth and once he got over his asthma at age 11, he made his mark as an athlete.

As well as competing for Morpeth Harriers, Mr Nicholls was the Northumberland cross country captain at national junior competitions and the 100m and 200m champion at King Edward Grammar School.

But after being among the first group of people to receive the Duke of Edinburgh scheme gold award and selected for an Arctic expedition with the National Council of YMCAs he caught the trekking bug.

He said: “During my college days a group of us went hiking and climbing in the Alps and it felt special as not that many people went on these trips back then, even if the van we were in had a top speed of only 40mph.

“As I went on to have a family I had to save up for future expeditions, but over the years I’ve been to the Himalayas, the Andes, Africa, Alaska and New Zealand among other places.

“Mountaineering became a way of life and I’ve enjoyed all my trips. Even if it was raining or extremely cold it wasn’t considered a hardship, it was just part of the adventure.

“Training mountain leaders was a very worthwhile job and I also coached skiing and canoeing, with some of my pupils later going on to represent Great Britain at World and Olympic level.”

Mr Nicholls, who has four children and three grandchildren, still visits Morpeth regularly to see family and friends. He now lives in Burnmouth, in the Scottish Borders, with his wife Christine.

He has sent off information and a photograph to the torch relay organisers so they can confirm his torch-bearer spot in the coming weeks.