‘It will be amazing to carry the torch’

Olympic torchbearers James Needham, centre, and Debjani Chatterjee with Simon Green, Sheffield Council executive director of place, inside the Winter Garden.

Olympic torchbearers James Needham, centre, and Debjani Chatterjee with Simon Green, Sheffield Council executive director of place, inside the Winter Garden.

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Torchbearers who will be holding the Olympic flame aloft around Sheffield have spoken of their pride at being chosen for the honour.

A group of worthy individuals have been selected to carry the torch through the city’s streets in June, cheered on by crowds of well-wishers.

Carrying the torch in Sheffield will be Carys Hall, aged 18, from Gleadless, who has given up her time to volunteer at sporting events and acts as a mentor for other youngsters who want to get involved in sport.

“It will be amazing to be an Olympic torchbearer,” said Carys.

“One of my other ambitions is to volunteer at the Olympic Games themselves.”

Simon Green, executive director of Sheffield Council’s development, environment and leisure department, said: “Sheffield is full of fantastic sporting talent, and this is the chance of a lifetime to give people a moment to shine.

“Carys has such enthusiasm and passion for sport in Sheffield, and it’s a privilege to have nominated her to be a torchbearer.”

Also chosen as a torchbearer is 28-year-old James Needham, who plays wheelchair rugby for Great Britain and works as an assistant at Southfield Primary School in Doncaster.

He now works visiting spinal units around the country teaching wheelchair skills and helping newly injured people.

“Carrying the Olympic flame will be an experience like no other,” he said.

“It also means a lot to my family as my uncle, who has since passed away, and cousin have carried the flame in Canada during previous Olympic torch relays and I’m proud to continue this family tradition.”

Debjani Chatterjee is another of Sheffield’s torchbearers - a writer who works with children in schools, community centres, libraries and hospitals.

Debjani, 59, once worked as poet-in-residence at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, and said carrying the flame will be a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.

“It’s an honour to have the opportunity to represent all of the community groups I’ve worked with in Sheffield and across the UK,” said the writer, who received the MBE in 2004.

An average of 115 torchbearers a day will carry the flame during its 8,000 mile journey around the UK before it arrives at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27.

The organising committee set itself the target of taking the torch to within ten miles of over 95 per cent of the population.