AN “OUTSTANDING” team from the Ribble Valley has been chosen to carry the Paralympic flame during the London 2012 Paralympic torch relay.
Starting at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, the 24-hour overnight relay route will see the Paralympic Flame carried 92 miles by 580 inspirational torchbearers, working in teams of five, from Stoke Mandeville Hospital, which is the ‘home’ of the Paralympic Games, to the Olympic Stadium to officially open the games on Wednesday.
A team of five visually impaired people from the Ribble Valley and Rossendale, who are aged between 30 and 81, were nominated to carry the torch by Sheila Greenwood, who works as a rehabilitation officer for people with a visual impairment for Lancashire County Council.
“These outstanding visually impaired individuals were nominated as they are inspirational in different areas of the community, giving their time knowledge and experience,” said Sheila.
“They show what can be achieved with courage and determination and strive to help others.”
Team members include Clitheroe’s Chris Tattersall who lost his sight at the age of 40. After being persuaded to learn Braille he attended Bolton College and now volunteers at five centres across East Lancashire where lessons are free to attend and learners work towards a Braille qualification.
Chris, who is founder member of the Ribble Valley Visually Impaired Group, is a guide dog owner and Blackburn Rovers fan.
He will be accompanied by Ken Maidens, from Clayton-le-Dale, who is chairman of the Ribble Valley Visually Impaired Group. Ken was diagnosed with macular degeneration in 1998 and is actively involved with Action for Blind People, St Dunstans, the Macular Disease Society and Blackburn Lions. He has recently completed the Morecambe Bay Walk raising funds for Galloways Blind Society and the Ribble Valley Visually Group.
The third member of the Ribble Valley team is Lucy Priest, of Chatburn, who qualified as a nurse in 1997 before losing her sight in 2001. After having to give up work and still wanting to help people, Lucy, who is married with a one-year-old son, trained for years to be a counsellor and now volunteers at Freeflow counselling services in Burnley.
The other two torchbearers, who have joined the team, live just outside of the Ribble Valley.
Graham Helm, who has lived in Bacup all his life, lost his sight four years ago. He has spent all his working life supporting young people to reach their full potential. Having had to adapt his approach to music he continues as the conductor of the 2nd Rossendale Scout band, a large youth brass band which perform at more than 40 concerts a year. As well as conducting and rehearsing with the band twice weekly, Graham also fund-raises for the band and several other charities.
The final member of the team is Ketaki Sheader, of Ramsgreave, who was born with Albinism and grew up in India. Ketaki’s first volunteering experience was in India working with children with disabilities. After moving to England with her family she continued with volunteering and attended university where she qualified as a rehabilitation officer for people with a visual impairment and now works for Lancashire County Council. Being visually impaired herself she visits people and provides practical support and training.
Each team will take the flame half a mile on its journey from Stoke Mandeville to the Olympic stadium. They then have the opportunity to each purchase the Paralympic Torch to keep as a memento of their once in a lifetime experience.