Meet Huntingdonshire’s Olympic torchbearers

WORLD War Two veteran Reg Whittaker, 91, will be one of the Huntingdon torchbearers.

Mr Whittaker, of Popes Lane, Warboys, was told two weeks ago about the honour after his son John nominated him for serving six years in the RAF, training female spies as part of MI5’s Special Operations Executive.

“I was given a medal in 2009 by Gordon Brown for serving the country in a role in which I was sworn to secrecy, so it wasn’t hard to keep my news secret from people,” he said. “I am really looking forward to it, but I shan’t be running as at my age I’d fall over.”

He added: “I may not be the oldest in the country but I must certainly be a contender for the county at 91.”

Mr Whittaker is also a former headteacher of Hail Weston School, Bluntisham Church of England School and Holywell School, and spent most of his life in Huntingdonshire after moving to the area when he was 13.

FORMER athlete Bryn Percival, of Kent Road, Oxmoor, is another torcherbearer for the Huntingdon relay.

He was nominated by Charlotte Galloway, 16, a member of Cambridge and Coleridge Athletic Club, where Bryn volunteers and has been a member since the age of 10.

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He was once in the top 20 of 400m runners in Britain, but retired from competitive racing when he was 18 because of a potential knee problem.

“I was told I had to either stop running or I would need an artificial knee, so I decided to turn to coaching,” he told The Hunts Post. “It’s going to be a fantastic experience as I was lucky enough to get picked when others didn’t.

“My athletes want me to sprint the distance – mostly to see if I fall over -– but to see if I can be the fastest carrier.”

A former policeman, Bryn moved to Huntingdon 10 years ago.

A SCHOOL teacher has been chosen as a torchbearer in St Ives for inspiring children to have a passion for music.

Nell Macleod, head of music at St Ivo, runs a number of bands after school and volunteers to run music lessons at the weekend.

The 28-year-old from Willingham said: “When I got the e-mail to say I was nominated I thought it would never get this far.

“I will represent the school and I’m hoping the St Ivo Samba Band will come down to play.”

A ST Neots man will have to travel to Lancashire to carry the Olympic Torch.

Hotelier Paul Jasber, 37, of Dovehouse Close, will be carry the torch as it is taken through Lytham St Anne’s, a town south of Blackpool, on June 23.

“It’s such an honour to carry the Olympic flame, I’d travel anywhere for it. Ideally it would have been in St Neots, but as its not travelling through the town, Huntingdon or St Ives would have been nice,” he said.

“I was nominated to carry the torch because I am chairman of the Priory Park Play Group and I’ve been trying to raise money to replace the buildings.”

The manager of Holiday Express Inn at Luton Airport, Mr Jasber will travel more than 200 miles to carry the torch but is not the furthest a torch bearer will go. Zhiyong Pan, 35, from Guangzhou, China, will run with the flame in Cambridge.

WATER skiing world champion Kim Manchett will run with the Olympic Torch in Cambridge.

Kim (nee Lumley) is originally from Somersham, where her parents and sister still live.

She said: “I am so excited. I really can’t wait, it’s going to be excellent. To be doing it in Cambridge, so close to home, is amazing.”

She added: “I haven’t raced since I had my daughter, Darcy, so to get this is really nice.

“Winning the World’s was amazing. I worked really hard for that and pushed my body to extremes. This is going to be something which I can enjoy.”