Olympic fever seems to be sweeping the nation, including the Explore office. Tim Hornby, one of our IT gurus, was one of the lucky 8000 people to actually carry the torch.
"I recently had the honour of being a torchbearer in the Olympic Torch Relay. It was a moment unlike anything I’d done before and one that will live on in my memory forever. Especially as I get to keep my torch and will have it proudly displayed at home.
I was nominated to be a torchbearer by my Canadian godfather, Ed Murphy, who I had visited for the first time back in 2010 to watch him carry the torch for the Vancouver Winter Olympic relay. He won the honour with sponsors Coca Cola due to his community work and nominated me for my charity work (check out www.explorebipolar.org for my latest adventures!) and I got through!
Two weeks before my 'Moment to Shine' the standard-issue torchbearer tracksuit bottoms and top (or, as I like to call them, my “special pyjamas”) arrived in the post. Thankfully, they were a good fit.
When my day to run arrived, in Petersfield on Monday 16th July, it was an early start. All torchbearers for Petersfield, Rogate and Midhurst met at a local college at 6.45am to get to know each other, hear each other’s stories and have a briefing and a Q&A session with the organisers. It helped to make us more relaxed, I think most of us were getting pretty nervous at this stage. Then, before we knew it, it was time for all the torchbearers to jump on the bus where we all headed to the south of Petersfield where the first of us would meet the torch procession to run. No turning back now!
We were numbered so we knew who was getting out next. Once we got dropped off at our starting point we had to wait at the side of the road for the torch to catch us up (this was the most nerve-racking bit for me, stood with the crowd watching, waiting for the flame to get to me – I wasn’t sure what to do with myself!). Soon enough though the torch was with me, I had the flame transferred to me (called the 'kiss') and I started running and waving!
The crowds were amazing and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything quite like it – I couldn’t stop grinning! I ran my section right into the heart of Petersfield high street and transferred the flame over to the next bearer. After each torchbearer’s section of the relay we got on a different bus at the back of the procession and followed the torch until we’d been through all three towns, finishing in Midhurst. Then it was a short drive back to Petersfield where our friends and families waited to collect us.
Following the amazing and privileged experience I visited four different local schools because a few of my friends asked whether I would visit where their kids go (I think most schools around the UK have been learning about the Olympics as it’s so topical). I was reluctant and nervous to begin with, but I’m so glad I agreed because the school visits were almost as good as the actual run itself. Every kid’s face lit up as they held the torch and a lot of them asked me really relevant questions (I soon found I had to swot up on the torch and the Games!). I can’t count how many photos I’ve been in recently…
I’ve been caught up with the spirit of the Games, as have those who have held my torch aloft. I think the UK has been caught up in the spirit of it too, if the crowds at the relay have been anything to go by and I think we can be quite proud of that.
Here’s to a successful 2012 Olympics!