Fourth Olympic Torch bearer for Bridlington announced

Dr Al Shibani
Dr Al Shibani

A FOURTH torchbearer has been announced to carry the Olympic Torch through Bridlington on June 18.

The website of the London 2012 games now shows a fourth torchbearer for the town, Dr Badr Al Shibani, 31, of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

A spokesperson for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) said that Dr Al Shibani was added to the list late because torchbearers are not named until they agree to publicity.

It could be the case that more torchbearers may be set to carry the famous flame through the town who have not already agreed to publicity, according to a spokesperson for LOCOG.

The London 2012 website says that Dr Al Shibani promotes healthy living for diabetics and obese people and runs a chain of non-profit fitness centres in Saudi Arabia.

He is a media personality in his homeland, writing articles and appearing on radio and TV to inspire and motivate people to cultivate a healthy lifestyle.

The torch relay has been criticised by some in the town for not including any torchbearers from Bridlington, and for missing out a large swathe of the town centre in the torch’s route - so much so that an alternative torch relay through the town centre has been planned for Friday June 15, featuring local torchbearers.

Dr Al Shibani will join North Ferriby’s Sophie McMullen, 18, Gareth Thomas, 36, from Wetherby and 60-year-old Hornsea man Neil Sergeant on the route through Bridlington.

The stories of their nomination have now been published on the London 2012 website, with Sophie described as “an inspirational 18-year-old”.

In her nomination story, it says: “Sophie is cheerful, hard-working and extremely popular with her peers and adults alike.

“She has recently gained a high grade ICT GCSE and is currently working towards a maths qualification.

“In the college unit of her school she participates fully as a member of the school council and an assistant to the speech therapy department in organising and running communication days for children from 4 special schools who use communication aids, acting as host and coordinator.

“All of this despite having severe athetoid cerebral palsy affecting all four limbs and her speech. Sophie uses a single headswitch to operate her electric wheelchair, her communication aid, mobile phone, and to access a computer.”

Gareth Thomas, 36, “works tirelessly as a training officer for Wetherby Air Cadets”.

His nomination reads: “Gareth’s latest achievements include gaining an RAF commission, winnning a national competition for £1000 of flight simulator equipment and fundraising £3000 for a computer room which he fitted and networked himself.

“He runs activities each week for over 6 hours and reguarly gives up his family weekends to support the group. He coaches young people through difficult times, when the adults in their life have let them down and gives them confidence and focus for the future.

“Gareth makes a difference by not just giving a lot of time and money, but by inspiring the young people he works with and showing how good work is rewarded.”

For more than 20 years Neil Sergeant, 60, has been the coach for the junior section of Beverley AC.

His nomination reads: “This has involved selfless giving of time - running two training sessions per week and attending one and very often two all day competitions at the weekend (often a considerable distance away).

“He has consistently supported and motivated the children in the club to be disciplined athletes and good citizens and has given a tremendous amount to the club and the wider community without ever being formally recognised for his efforts.”

What do you think? Should Bridlington residents be prioritised to carry the torch through the town?

Would you like to be involved in an alternative torch relay? Contact us by email on newsdesk@bridlingtonfreepress.co.uk or post at 3 Prospect Street, Bridlington, YO15 2AQ.