Carrying the torch, but it’s a long way home for some

NOT HAPPY Gerry North will carry the Olympic torch
NOT HAPPY Gerry North will carry the Olympic torch
Chris Peacey with some of his HMS Prince of Wales memorabilia     Picture: Habibur Rahman

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THIS July dozens of people from across our region have been selected to take part in the prestigious Olympic torchbearers relay.

But some of those taking part have been dismayed to find that they are being asked to carry the torch in a stage miles from home.

And at the same time others from outside the region will be joining the relay in their home town.

Gerry North, 75, has been involved in athletics for the past six decades and was given The News sports lifetime achievement award last December.

He had a successful national and international running career and has become a legend for his work and coaching with the City of Portsmouth Athletics Club.

He said: ‘For some reason they’ve given me a slot in East Cowes. I do feel very honoured, but I would have preferred a slot in Portsmouth.

‘It does seem a bit strange that they’ve got people from all over the place running in Portsmouth, but someone like me, who’s got very strong ties to the city, is getting sent to the Isle of Wight.

‘I have contacted them to ask if it’s possible for it to be changed, but I haven’t had a response yet.

However, Annette Ablitt, from Drayton, will also be carrying the torch in East Cowes.

Ms Ablitt said: ‘Originally I was given a leg in Aberdeen and I have no idea how they decided that. But then they changed it and I was really pleased to get a Saturday afternoon on the Isle of Wight.

‘All my family come from Essex so they are going to come along for the day as well. I’m really excited.’

The 50-year-old was nominated by her manager at the Holiday Inn in Portsmouth for her charity work, and she also helps care for her partner Craig McConnachie, who has the degenerative neurological condition, Huntington’s disease.

A London 2012 spokeswoman said: ‘The torchbearers are mostly running within an hour of their nominated postcode. Because of the logistics it hasn’t been possible to do that in every case.

‘We have tried to achieve it where possible, but if you can imagine some 8,000 torchbearers, getting them all into exactly where they live, it is a logistical problem.

‘We also work with international partners and they have invited people from overseas to take part as well, which is how some foreign runners are involved in various legs.’

WHO IS RUNNING WHERE

There are two days from Fareham to Portsmouth in which the torch will be carried by 35 people of whom 20 are from the area.

Fareham

Kim Hosier, 51, from Portsmouth

Andy Macklin, 55, from Southampton

Andy Rogers, 55, from Fareham

Cathy Holc-Thompson, 45, from Havant

Derek Wood, 86, from Farnborough

Flavia Trewin, 54, from Fareham

Rich Opperman, 43, from Basingstoke

Bridgemary

Alexandra Rickham, 30, from Epsom

Chris Adams, 45, from Havant

Henry Port, 13, from Petersfield

Karen Williams, 49, from Gosport

Paul Curtis, 41, from Fareham

Gosport

Luke Earley, 21, from Southampton

Ayesha MacLelland, 18, from Gosport

Chris Smith, 18, from Stockbridge

Daphne Laycock, 66, from Emsworth

Gillian Skeen, 49, from Romsey

Sam Smith, 14, from Kings Worthy

Sue Groves, 60, from Southampton

Portsmouth

Ben Godbold, 19, from Gosport

Bianca Kopp, 31, from Vienna, Austria

Christopher Brown, 24, from Romsey

Fergus Carter-Brazier, 18, from Waterlooville

Jonathon Bamber, 26, from Portsmouth

Louis Faith, 18, from Portsmouth

Margaret Hyde, 63, from Fareham

Neil Mundy, 50, from Denmead

Simon Coutaud, 29, from Portsmouth

April Hornsey, 15, from Southsea

Bron Carter, 60, from Waterlooville

Franck Aragnou, 39 from Moret Sur Loing, France

Gareth Ferguson, 32, from Chichester

John Barnes, 45, from Arundel

Mark Jago, 51, from Brighton

Vickie Berridge-Brown, 22, from Hove

In addition 10 people from the Portmouth area are running elsewhere.

Kwesi James, 12, from Portsmouth, will run in Southampton

Annette Ablitt from Portsmouth, Gerry North from Portsmouth and Ruth Smith, 16, from Waterlooville, will all run in East Cowes

Hattie Gould, 16, from Fareham will run in Totland

Laura Carlisle, 16, from Fareham will run in The Needles

Sarita Jarrett, 39, from Havant will run in Carisbrooke

Amy Wilton, 17, from Fareham will run in Midhurst

Sammie Roden, 34, from, Portsmouth will run in Tillington

Vicky Scott, 32, from Fareham will run in Chichester