Under starter’s orders for the big torch-relay

EX-POLICE officer and former Hucknall man Barry Harper
EX-POLICE officer and former Hucknall man Barry Harper

THE COUNTDOWN is on for a group of torchbearers with connections to the Dispatch district who are to hold aloft the Olympic flame.

The Dispatch previously broke news that boxing coach BARRY O’DOWD, of Fradley Close, Bulwell Hall, will take part in the Nottingham leg of the nationwide torch relay on Friday June 29.

But now it has emerged that a trio of other inspirational locals have also been chosen for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

They are ex-police officer BARRY HARPER, volunteer ANDREW HAYWARD and amputee CHLOE JONES.

The most high-profile is former chief inspector Mr Harper, who was born and bred in Hucknall.

Barry (53) went to National Comprehensive School (now National Church Of England Academy) in the town. His sister, Carol Mills, and brother-in-law Bob still live on Kersall Gardens.

As well as his role with the police, Barry is well-known as an intrepid fundraiser.

He has earned tens of thousands of pounds for charity through two treks to the North Pole and one to the South Pole.

He was also part of the first team to cross the frozen Great Slave Lake in Canada.

“It is brilliant that I get to be part of such an amazing event,” said dad-of-two Mr Harper, who now lives in Underwood.

“In 2005, when London was just a bid city for the Ggames, I planted an Olympic flag at the South Pole. I guess it has all come full circle.”

Mr Harper will carry the torch at Market Harborough in Leicestershire on Monday July 2.

He was nominated for the honour by his wife of 26 years, Elizabeth, who also hails from Hucknall. Her parents, Kathleen and Cyril, live on Central Avenue.

Also looking forward to getting his hands on the Olympic torch is Andrew (28), of Windsor Close.

The accounts assistant has been chosen to take part in recognition of his work as a volunteer with the long-established Thursday Club in Hucknall.

The organisation, which meets at Hucknall Leisure Centre, offers help and support to adults and children with special needs.

Andrew has been volunteering with the club for ten years and will take part in the relay in Mansfield on Thursday June 28.

“My involvement with the Thursday Club is very rewarding,” he said. “But it is a great to be recognised. I am shocked and honoured to be taking part.”

Twenty-two-year-old Chloe is formerly from Sneinton but now lives in Hucknall.

She lost a leg in a hit-and-run accident in 2009 but is flourishing as a fashion business student at Nottingham Trent University.

She will take part in the same section of the torch relay as Barry O’Dowd.