There’s really not much that can top taking part in the Olympic torch relay. Except maybe your wedding day. After all, they have a lot in common – the rather fetching white outfits, legging it up an aisle of smiling faces, not to mention the months of nervous excitement in the build-up. But really, those few minutes from 6.28pm on July 13, Day 56 of the relay when I carried the Olympic torch, are gonna take some beating!
This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and one that I feel extremely privileged to have had – especially representing Team Fabulous (or should that be Flamulous?). Sharing stories with the other torchbearers on the day, it was clear that every one of them more than deserved their “Moment to shine” – their tales of battling illness, work in the community and endless goodwill were truly humbling. Especially that of Charlie Rogers, who despite being just 15, volunteers for sailing charity, Sailability, helping the disabled fulfill their sporting potential by learning to sail. He is so inspirational that sponsor Coca-Cola marked him out as one of their “Future Flames” in this summer’s Olympic relay – a select group of young people who really deserve to be celebrated.
Of course, as well as sharing our stories on the official torchebearer’s bus, there were fun and games too, as we all tried to outdo each other with ideas to make our ‘torch kiss’ (when you pass the flame on to the next person) special. These ranged from high-fives and hopping dances, to one guy even balancing the torch on his chin! Obviously he hadn’t had the same concerns as me about setting fire to my hair, dropping the torch, making the flame go out, tripping over – all very possible with my track record. But I needn’t have worried, because the second I stepped off the bus to whoops and cheers from the waiting crowds, I didn’t have a care in the world. And as I got dragged from one person to the next posing for photos and being wished good luck, I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face… until I got slightly mobbed by a group of overenthusiastic teenagers (Eek!).
Then, suddenly, the runner before me was approaching and it was nearly my turn to take the flame. Morag Day, 56, was nominated after she survived cancer and three bone marrow transplants. She has gone on to run five marathons and raises thousands of pounds for Lymphoma Association, and after a hug and a kiss on the cheek from her, I was off – at high speed! Apparently I was one of the fastest torchbearers they’d seen (Go me!) – I guess adrenaline can do a lot of things to a couch potato! Bobbing along, waving to people and seeing how excited they were to see the torch come past was a definite highlight and for the first time it really sunk in that I was making history there and then. Plus, it just so happened to coincide with a live news broadcast – yours truly made it on to the telly!
And when I reached the end (Boo!), one high-five later and a couple of “whoops” from yours truly and it was someone else’s turn to take the torch. Now, along with copious ‘action shots’ taken by the hubby, I’m left with the memories, a rather glitzy draft excluder (only joking!) and a white outfit, which much like my wedding dress, I probably won’t have an occasion to wear again… Unless… someone please invite me to a fancy-dress party! Please! But not before I’ve had a rest – this being a celebrity malarkey is exhausting