When 94-year-old Thora Beddard carries the Olympic torch on its historic journey next week, it will be a very proud day for her granddaughter Catherine Burgess.
Thora is one of several ‘community champions’ chosen to be handed the honour of lighting the way as the flame makes its way to the London 2012 Olympic Games, which start at the end of July.
Her family – who include eight grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren AND seven great great grandchildren – are getting ready to turn out in numbers to see her carry the precious torch a distance of 300 metres through Oldham on June 24.
And among those who will be cheering her on is Catherine, a medical secretary in the hospital’s oral health department. She was one of many family members who, unbeknown to Thora, put her nan’s name forward to be a torchbearer.
Adventurous Thora’s never been afraid of trying new things – swimming at 40, yoga at 60 and abseiling at 73 – so she was the perfect candidate for a gentle jog as part of the Olympic Torch Relay!
And that’s not all – she carried the Jubilee Baton at Manchester’s Commonwealth Games in 2002, went back to school in her 80s to retake her English GCSE and is also a local health champion as a member of the Old People’s Forum in the Manchester Metropolitan University Health Faculty
“All of the members of the family had a hand in nominating her to be a torchbearer and we were thrilled when we found out she’d been chosen,” said Catherine. “It was a secret to start with but once she found out what we were doing it she was very happy.
“If you consider that she’s already lived through 21 of the 25 Summer Olympic Games that have ever been staged, it’s just an amazing achievement and she’s an incredible person – we’re all so very proud of her,” said Catherine.
Each torchbearer is responsible for 300 metres of the 8,000 mile journey on the way to the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium on Friday July 27.