Olympic torch relay gives Stourbridge heroes chance to shine

Stourbridge News: Ben Hudson with the torch in Wolverhampton. Ben Hudson with the torch in Wolverhampton.

STOURBRIDGE community heroes had their chance to shine when they carried the iconic Olympic torch as it made its way through the Black Country and beyond ahead of the London 2012 Games.

Ridgewood High School student Ben Hudson was among those selected to carry the torch as it passed through the region as part of its 70-day, 8,000-mile journey around the country.

The 17-year-old, who was nominated for the prestigious role for his efforts in helping to save schoolgirl Chloe West as she was stabbed outside Ridgewood in April 2011, carried the iconic flame as it made its way through Wolverhampton from Willenhall on Saturday June 30.

He said after the event: “To carry the Olympic flame in front of so many of my friends and family made me feel extremely honoured indeed.

“This was a once in a lifetime experience. I will never forget that day and will treasure the memories for the rest of my life."

Ben, who is now studying A levels at King Edward VI College in Stourbridge, then passed the flame onto Kingswinford’s Ceri Davies who was put forward for the role of torchbearer in honour of her dedicated campaigning on disability and youth issues.

Ceri, aged 22, who was born with spina bifida and cerebral palsy, has been an ambassador for the Princess Diana Trust, a prominent member of Dudley's Youth Parliament and a governor for Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Adventurous fundraiser Gavin Ellis from Lower Gornal also carried the torch in Wolverhampton.

Gavin, aged 35, who works for InterContinental Hotels Group in Brierley Hill, was picked for the role for raising thousands of pounds over the last five years for charities including Guide Dogs for the Blind, Multiple Sclerosis Society UK and Cancer Research UK through a series of marathons and walks.

While Wordsley running coach Rita Vanes, a special needs teacher at Halesowen’s Halesbury School - who founded Dudley Ladies Running Club in 2002, got her chance to carry the torch through Redditch on Sunday July 1.

The 64-year-old, who through her popular beginners' courses has inspired hundreds of women to enjoy the sport of running, said of the honour: “It was absolutely fantastic. It was the best moment of my life.

“There were hundreds and hundreds of people there and everybody was hooting and cheering. I couldn’t believe I was part of such a wonderful thing. I feel so proud to have been chosen to carry the torch.”

University student Becky Robinson, aged 22, from Brierley Hill, a community work and volunteers champion, is due to carry the torch on July 20 when it passes through Godalming, Surrey, as the relay nears London where it will light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on July 27.

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