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Countdown to Olympic Torch Relay continues

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Roger Mosey | 10:15 UK time, Monday, 19 March 2012

For all the clocks counting down the number of days to the start of the London Olympics, there's one important calculation.

The start of the Olympic torch relay in the UK is 70 days closer - which means it gets under way in just two months' time with its arrival in Cornwall on Friday 18 May.

Today we learned a lot more about where it will go street-by-street across Great Britain and Northern Ireland - and, equally important, we found out about some of the people who'll be carrying the flame.

These are exciting times for those fortunate enough to have been selected, and when you put together the runners with the locations you can see what's shaping up to be an amazing journey around the UK.

Here at the BBC, two of our staff are named today among the 8,000 runners.

These places weren't part of Games organisers Locog's allocation for the general public, but were made available to us as the Olympic broadcaster courtesy of Lloyds TSB, one of the presenting partners of the torch relay.

Our key selection criterion was that the individuals must have given something to the wider community - to have made a contribution greater than just doing their job - to merit the honour of being part of the relay.

I hope you'll approve of our choices.

The first is Alec Collyer a video journalist at the BBC in Plymouth.

It's 35 years since Alec became a founder member of the Dartmoor Search and Rescue, an entirely voluntary role, and he's still with them today having taken part in countless rescues in weather conditions including blizzards and fog.

The Search and Rescue teams are called in to help people in distress when required by the Police, and you may remember one of the biggest recent calls on their services was assisting hundreds of motorists stranded in the snow on Dartmoor in 2009 and 2010.

Our second torchbearer is Stuart Hughes - the diplomatic producer in our World Affairs Unit. Stuart is a journalist who's been to many trouble-spots. But in 2003 he lost his right leg after stepping on a landmine in Iraq; and the cameraman he was filming with, Kaveh Golestan, was killed.

Despite this tragedy, Stuart has returned to work and continued to travel the globe; and he's also become a high-profile campaigner against landmines. He's helped other amputees achieve their goals by showing that losing a limb doesn't mean the end of an active life - and equally important, he's used his own experience to highlight the psychological toll faced by journalists reporting from warzones.

You can watch a film about Stuart here:

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So these are just two of the individuals who will carry the torch. There are thousands of other inspirational stories being announced today too; and they show us that even in these times of economic pressure, and amid the stresses of daily life, there are people who simply make this country a better place to live.


  • Comment number 1.

    Although I'm sure most of the torch bearers are worthy quite dissappointing to see of the dozen of so carrying the flame up here through Wrexham only two are from the are, with the others from over the border in Cheshire and as far away as Bolton and Warrington. It'll have been and gone by 9am too!

  • Comment number 2.

    Just how mind-blowingly inept is the routing of the torch between Bournemouth and Lymington? The peak holiday season. A holiday area. A Saturday. A route always congested at this time of year. Market day down the High Street in Lymington - on both sides of the road! A "convoy" with no public access on the main holiday route between Lyndhurst and Christchurch. If anyone had to set out to plan as much congestion as possible they couldn't have done a better job. Ineptitude at its best. Still, this is central planning Olympics. The mind boggles at the organisation of the rest of the event!

  • Comment number 3.

    Not my role to speak for Locog, of course, but when you look at the logistics over 70 days of thousands of miles around the UK and with 8,000 runners then you can see the scale of the challenge. And the key thing is this is done without the support of the international sport governing bodies that you get in the Games themselves.

  • Comment number 4.

    auntiesfan - similar thing here in Wrexham, closing the main road into town (and the main alternative) during the morning rush hour when the relay could easily start in more residential areas. Even if I wanted to get into town and watch it at 7am in the morning with the road closed I wouldn't be able too!

    As you say though a logisitical challenge and a half for LOCOG though and obviously some sacrifices need to be made along the way - but presumably local legs are planned by those with local knowledge so no real excuse for lacking a bit of common sense in the planning.

  • Comment number 5.

    Slight aside from the torch relay - I'm wondering if the BBC are planning on waiving the licence fee requirements for the opening and closing ceremonies, and maybe the super Saturday coverage to encourage community events.

    They did this for the royal wedding last year - it would seem a fitting time to do so again - it's not like we host the Olympics very often...


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