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Bramley man carries Paralympic flame
A PARALYMPIC torchbearer described carrying the flame as “one of the best days of my life.”
Matthew Slough, from Bramley, was in the national spotlight when he took the torch along one of the busiest sections of the route past Westminster Abbey on August 29 on its 24-hour relay to the Olympic Stadium.
The inspirational 22-year-old was born with a serious heart condition and has undergone numerous operations, including a heart bypass.
But the Chelsea Football fan works tirelessly to help others and runs the club’s Community Junior Disability football section as well as the Under-16s Cerebral Palsy Centre of Excellence.
Despite facing further surgery in the future, Matthew puts his own troubles aside to inspire youngsters and give them the confidence to play football.
Matthew was due to carry the flame at 11.13am, but because of delays he ended up waiting until 1.15pm.
He said: “It was overwhelming. There were thousands of people. I expected there to be people but not that many. It was an incredible day. “
Matthew worked with four other torchbearers, who took it in turns to carry the flame on a half mile-long journey.
He added: “It was one of the best days of my life. My friends and family came to watch. I was so excited.”
Speaking about the Paralympic Games, Matthew said they have helped “raise awareness” of disabilities. He added: “It’s been really good to see so many people at the Games. It’s definitely an eye-opener.”
Guy Harris who grew up in Greywell carried the flame on the first relay day through Aylesbury.
The 37-year-old was nominated by colleagues, inspired by his desire to help others following an accident in 2003 that left him confined to a wheelchair.
Guy, who served in the Territorial Army, set up the website disabledgear.com – a free service for disabled people to buy and sell second-hand equipment.
He said: “It was amazing. It was just extraordinary and thrilling to be part of. The sheer pleasure of taking part and seeing all the people smiling and waving and lining the route, it was very special.”
Helen Jackman, from Hook, also carried the torch. The 37-year-old is the chief executive of the Macular Disease Society. Her grandfather suffered from the disease before he died.
Helen, a mother-of-one, carried the flame on its very last leg before it was handed to Royal Marine Joe Townsend, who lost both his legs serving in Afghanistan and flew into the stadium on a zip-wire in front of 80,000 spectators.
Helen said: “It was brilliant. The atmosphere was amazing. There was a bit of a hiccup because it was delayed so they had to change the route but we did the very last leg into Stratford which was amazing.”
The torch was then used to light a lamp to transport the flame on its final part of the journey to Mr Townsend.