OLYMPIC TORCH: South Yorkshire lighting torch party

Ecclesfield Primary School Olympic Torch sponsored walk with official olympics torch bearer Sue Prasad
Ecclesfield Primary School Olympic Torch sponsored walk with official olympics torch bearer Sue Prasad
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IT’s the proudest day of our lives!

Today people across South Yorkshire will star in the historic Olympic torch relay as it arrives ahead of the London 2012 games.

It is the opportunity of a lifetime for the lucky few, who have been chosen for their inspirational stories of bravery or achievement, as they carry their Olympic torches around South Yorkshire.

The flame will makes its way through Barnsley and into Sheffield, then out to Rotherham and Doncaster tomorrow.

Colourful charity campaigner John Burkhill, aged 73, who is the second runner in the city, said: “This is a great honour. I think it is one of the proudest, and most humbling days, of my life.”

FROM grans to teens, athletes to war heroes, South Yorkshire’s torchbearers come from all walks of life.

Today they will be united by a common cause - to fly the flag for our region in the countdown to the London 2012 Olympic games.

All are to proudly bear the historic flame for a 300m stretch as crowds of onlookers cheer.

In the city charity campaigner John Burkhill, who has raised many thousands of pounds for MacMillan, is the second runner.

He will step out between Chapeltown and Ecclesfield in the official white tracksuit rather than with his normal green wig and pram.

John, aged 73, of Richmond, said: “This is a great honour. I think it is one of the proudest, and most humbling days, of my life.

“I am carrying not just for me but for everybody in Sheffield. I can’t thank them enough.”

Hot on John’s heels will be Joshua McGill, 18, of High Green.

The student, who gives healthy living talks in schools after both his grandparents died of lung cancer, is walking in Chapeltown.

He said: “It’s probably going to be the most exciting thing I’ve ever done!”

“At the minute I feel a mixture of nervousness and euphoria.

“It is an honour to be alongside people who have done inspirational things but don’t look for recognition.

“Today will definitely be in the top ten proudest days of my life.”

Sue Prasad, of Grenoside, has been nominated for her work with disabled swimming.

She will carry the torch in Ecclesfield today and also work at the games in London.

Sue, 50, said: “I am nervous and excited, there are relatives coming up to see me from all over.

“Hopefully the weather will brighten up a little bit! Otherwise the white suits we are wearing could turn it into a wet T-shirt competition.”

The torch first enters South Yorkshire in Barnsley this afternoon - setting off from Lundwood at 1.25pm and then going to the town hall.

Runner Dave Allemby is humbled to carry the flame after legendary sprinter Dorothy Hyman, the first person in South Yorkshire to have the honour.

The 56-year-old, of Wombwell, strides out in Lundwood on the same day as Vitiligo Awareness Day - a skin condition he suffers from.

He said: “I have to admit, I do a lot of running and I have never been this nervous. It’s a funny feeling.

“The relay is brilliant for the area. I’m a big supporter of athletics and if it gets kids out and people coming together that’s amazing.

“The great thing about the relay is how millions of people will see these places people have never heard of.”

Scout leader Liz Westby is flying the flag for the movement through Barnsley town centre.

The 63-year-old grandma, of Chapeltown, said: “I have heard there are only 50 scouting people involved, two of them in this district.

“I think that’s great for our area. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of an event like this.

“In the last couple of weeks it has suddenly all become real and like a rollercoaster.”

The Olympic flame will leave South Yorkshire tomorrow through Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster after a night of jubilant celebration in the city.

Inspirational Doncaster paratrooper Ben Parkinson - the most injured serviceman to survive his injuries - will bear the flame in Bennetthorpe.

The 27-year-old said: “I’m very happy and proud. I’m most looking forward to all my friends coming up to see me.”

Mum Diane Dernie added: “Ben has worked so hard for this, it is definitely one of the biggest days of his life.”