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Basingstoke people carry Paralympic torch
2:20pm Thursday 30th August 2012 in News
THREE inspirational people from the Basingstoke area carried the Paralympic torch on its relay from Stoke Mandeville to London.
Matthew Slough, Guy Harris and Helen Jackman helped to transport the flame in a 24-hour relay leg starting on August 28 at the home of the Paralympic movement and finishing at the Olympic Stadium yesterday, where it lit the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony.
Matthew, from Bramley, was nominated for his work with disabled children, giving them the confidence to play football.
The 22-year-old was born with a serious heart condition and despite numerous operations, including a heart bypass, he has worked tirelessly to help and inspire others.
The Chelsea Football fan now runs the club’s Community Juniors Disability football section as well as the Under-16s Cerebral Palsy Centre of Excellence.
He had an operation when he was just eight-years-old and another when he was 17 to replace a valve which will last 15 to 30 years, so Matthew faces further surgery in the future. The second operation took three months to recover from, resulting in Matthew missing a year of college.
The condition affects his stamina, but determined Matthew said: “I just get on with it.”
He said being chosen to carry the torch was a “great honour."
Matthew, who carried the flame past Westminster Abbey at 11.13am yesterday, was nominated by his boss Rob Seale, who said that Matthew “displays high spirits and enthusiasm both on and off the pitch.”
Helen, 37, from Hook, is the chief executive of the Macular Disease Society. Her grandfather suffered from the disease before he died.
Helen said: “We didn’t know what was wrong with his eyes but he gradually stopped doing some of the things he liked doing. He lost the ability to play bowls and it wasn’t until I was older that we knew he had macular dystrophy.
“There’s so much we need to do to raise awareness, so the torch relay is a great opportunity to get the word out there.”
Helen carried the flame on its very last leg before it was handed over to the torchbearers taking it into the Olympic Stadium. Her nominators praised her for managing to run a busy national charity as well as looking after her two-year-old son Oliver.
The busy mum, whose husband Tristan is a Chinook pilot, also finds time to join in some of the charity’s fundraising events including the British London 10k.
Guy was nominated to carry the torch by a work colleague who was inspired by his desire to help others following an accident that left him confined to a wheelchair.
The 37-year-old, who grew up in Greywell, was in the Territorial Army when he lost the use of his legs when he was hit by a lorry in 2003.
But rather than feeling sorry for himself, Guy turned the tragedy into a positive and set up the website disabledgear.com, proving a free service for disabled people to buy and sell second-hand equipment.
Guy carried the Torch on August 28 in Aylesbury at 10pm. He said: “I’m thrilled. It’s a great opportunity. The Olympics have been so amazing and everyone is so on-side and on board. The Paralympics is getting very exciting.”
The Paralympic torch relay began last week when four National Flames were created in the four home nations – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. They combined as one on August 28 to create the London 2012 Paralympic Flame, before the 24-hour relay began.