Judi’s joy at Paralympic lantern role

ONE of Huntingdonshire’s unsung heroes was given the honour of carrying the Paralympic Flame on Monday (August 27).

Founder-member of Sailability, Judi Figgures, set sail on Grafham Water to extinguish the flame which had travelled across Cambridgeshire since Friday.

The event was one of the Flame Celebrations taking place across the country prior the a flame relay, which begins from Stoke Mandeville Hospital – birth place of the Paralympics – tonight and will finish at the Paralympic stadium at Stratford.

Ms Figgures, who suffered a spinal injury in 1966, before contracting Multiple Sclerosis, told The Hunts Post: “It was an enormous honour to be asked to extinguish the flame in the middle of Grafham Water – the home of Sailability – and is something that will live with me forever.”

The flame arrived at Grafham in a lantern which was passed down a procession of 48 young burns survivors who lined the driveway to Grafham Water Centre where it was presented to Ms Figgures.

“The children were so excited,” she added. “They usually seem to walk around with their heads down hoping that no-one will notice them, but this time they had their heads held high. They loved it.”

Ms Figgures, who lives in Hartford, set up Sailability in 1993 to encourage – and support – people with disabilities to take up sailing.

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She has become a leader for disability sailing and is a member of the Paralymipc training squad for the new two-man keel boat, most recently coaching 2016 hopeful Alex Hovden from Woking.

“My aim is to pass on all the information and knowledge I have as long as I am still able to do it,” Ms Figgures said. “Sailing at Grafham is fantastic but there are two facts to bear in mind – we have to persuade disabled people that they are capable of learning, and we have to persuade able-bodied people that we are worth helping.”

INFORMATION: For information on Sailability visit www.ryasailability.org.uk