Letchworth and Stevenage torchbearers reflect on their experience

THE torchbearers who carried the flame through Letchworth GC and Stevenage on Sunday have been reflecting on the experience.

CELIA WATSON carried the flame between Norton Way North up to the junction with Glebe Road in Letchworth GC.

The Hitchin resident is a behavioural outreach teacher across Stevenage primary schools and said she would be showing off her torch to pupils.

The 54-year-old said: “The atmosphere was completely awesome. I loved every minute of it and it’s something I will remember all my life. I wasn’t even aware I was holding the torch until the end as I was just looking at the crowds and taking it all in.

JOHN HARRIS was next in line on the Letchworth GC leg, running with the torch from Glebe Road to Nevells Road.

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The 50-year-old, who lives in Baldock, teaches PE in the town, as well as at schools in Letchworth GC and Hitchin.

He said: “It was just such a superb occasion. I’ve watched it on television before but to be part of it felt so different - it was wonderful. The support from everybody in Letchworth was fantastic and the crowds were massive.”

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Mr Harris visited Pixmore Junior School in Letchworth GC on Monday with his torch, adding: “One of the children came up to me and ‘you gave me a high five yesterday’ and he was over-the-moon about it. It’s just brilliant to see.”

GOBI RANGANATHAN, 36, carried the torch down the High Street and Letchmore Road in Stevenage. The Stevenage resident is currently the No.1 British Men’s singles wheelchair badminton player and was nominated by the Stevenage Community Trust for his sporting achievements.

He said: “It was out of this world, an unbelievable experience. I couldn’t get over how many people turned out for it, despite the weather.

“When I got off of the bus, I could just hear the crowds cheering. It was pretty much what I was expecting, but much much better.

“I would just like to thank June Oldroyd from the Stevenage Community Trust, who nominated me, and to The Poachers Pub in Bedwell, who have been fundraising for my torch and my badminton and held an after party on the Sunday.”

JOHN MAYOR, 54, carried the flame after the lunch break from King George V Playing Fields in Stevenage.

The decathlon and marathon athlete, who lives in the town, said: “It was absolutely fantastic. I was very lucky I got the first leg after lunch.

“It was better than I expected, I would do it again tomorrow. If they are short of relay runners, I’d certainly offer.

“It seemed to be over very quickly. My family were running along side me but behind the crowd. They had airhorns and were making lots of noise, it was great.”

LUCA WELLS, aged 12, was the youngest Stevenage torchbearer. The Thomas Alleyne pupil, who was nominated for his sporting achievements, ran his leg down the High Street.

He said: “I was a bit nervous, but mainly excited and happy. It was nervewracking because I was the first runner.

“My friends and family were amazed when I was running with it [the torch]. I saw them in the crowd.”

ASHLEY DEAR, from Baldock, carried the torch over two legs, after someone dropped out.

The 14-year-old Knights Templar pupil, who was nominated for looking after his brother when he was bullied, ran with the flame in Newport, Essex, and also in Duxford later that day.

His mum, Sarah, said: “He ran on behalf of his brother, and they are now sharing the torch.

“He ran the leg in Newport, jumped on the convoy bus and went all through Saffron Walden before doing another leg in Duxford. It was brilliant.”

Other torchbearers in Stevenage included family support worker Carol Lewis, athlete Peter Norris, mountain scout leader Robert Mcvey, charity fundraiser Stefanie Daniels and two-time sailing Olympic gold medallist Sarah Gosling.

In Letchworth GC, 16-year-old British water skier Charlotte Wharton, Claire Yeo, youth club worker James Bentall, retired PE teacher Janet Green, Special Olympics athlete Philip Goodall, Sue Miller, and London Marathon runner Tony Tillbrooke carried the flame.

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