South Yorkshire man guards Olympic torch on UK tour

Olympic Flame guard:  PC Kevin Tonkinson, from Doncaster.
Olympic Flame guard: PC Kevin Tonkinson, from Doncaster.
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THE Olympic torch is on its way to Doncaster - and it will be one of the borough’s sons who makes sure it gets here!

The Princess Royal was handed the torch this week during an official handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame at the Panathenaic Stadium, home of the 1896 Athens Games.

From there it was taken to England, where it arrived for the start of the 70-day relay to the start of the Games, which will pass through Doncaster on Tuesday, June 26.

Throughout the journey, it will be guarded by policeman Kevin Tonkinson, from was born and bred in Doncaster before taking a job as a policeman in London.

He has been drafted in to the Metropolitan Police Service’s specialist Torch Security Team.

For the TST team, known as “the runners,” next week brings to an end 18 months of gruelling training and final preparations to embark on what will be a unique role in British policing.

The runners are one element of the wider torch security team, which includes motorcyclists, pedal cyclists, senior officers and operational planners, who will ensure the integrity, safety and security of the Olympic and Paralympic Flames, plus the immediate protection of the Torch Bearer holding that flame.

Kevin will travel with the Olympic Flame, from the moment it leaves Lands End until it arrives at the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony.

The 38-year-old is currently an officer in Hackney, where he works on a response team responding to emergency calls.

He has been a serving MPS officer for 10 years. He was chosen for the torch job from an initial 664 applicants and following an eight-month selection process.

Kevin loves sport and played football in the local leagues in Doncaster. He also enjoys cycling and golf and is particularly looking forward to watching his Olympic hero Chris Hoy compete in the Games. Kevin says Hoy is such a “phenomenal cyclist.”

Meanwhile, another son of Doncaster has been announced as one of the people to take part in the Paralympic Torch relay later this year.

Karl Green was one of five people unveiled at London’s Trafalgar Square who were nominated through the Lloyds TSB public nomination campaign for their work with disability arts.

The 41-year-old, who works in theatre and has learning difficulties, is relishing the chance to put down his tutoring hat and don his running shoes for the 24-hour relay as it makes its way towards the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony on August 29.

“I feel really honoured to be running with the torch, it will be a brilliant experience,” said Green.

“I do a bit of badminton but I’m not brilliant at sport, I don’t normally get the chance to do much so this is an amazing opportunity.

When not on stage, Doncaster-born Green is volunteering at International Age Trust.

n The Olympic flame is due to enter Doncaster at 9.50am in Consibrough, and will leave at 1.47 pm at Hatfield, on Tuesday June 26.