Leah not worthy of town torch honour

Leah Hunter who was nominated to carry the Olympic torch through whitby but was not chosen''w121506
Leah Hunter who was nominated to carry the Olympic torch through whitby but was not chosen''w121506

A WHITBY girl has been told that despite raising thousands of pounds for charity, she has not done enough to merit carrying the Olympic torch through her home town.

Sixteen-year-old Leah Hunter has completed the Junior Great North Run three times – dressed as a crocodile – but the London-based decision makers have not judged her worthy of the honour.

Instead the torch is set to be carried through Whitby and district by runners from Dubai, York, Scarborough, Billingham and Newcastle.

The student has also organised fund-raisers for Dale Milne, the Whitby schoolboy paralysed in an accident last year.

Her grandma Cecilia Hunter, was one of numerous people who nominated the Fishermans Rowing Club member and she said: “I thought she deserved it. She’s done a lot of fund-raising herself and she’s always first with her hand up to offer help.

“When we got the thing saying Leah was not chosen I thought, well there’s others probably more worthy, as long as it was somebody from round here.”

However, no-one from Whitby or the surrounding villages will carry the Olympic flame as it passes down the coast, something which has annoyed Whitby mayor John Freeman and Mrs Hunter added: “It isn’t on really, it would have been nice for a local youngster.

“I agree with what Mr Freeman says, but what can you do?”

Leah will head to London later this year, but not as part of the Olympics, when she takes part in the Great River Race.

She said: “I like it because it’s fun to do fund-raising and you get to do silly stuff.

“It would have been good to carry the torch, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Following the disappointing announcement of who would carry the torch through the Whitby coastline, the Gazette contacted the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) and a spokesperson explained their choices.

She said: “LOCOG has endeavoured to place people within an hour of their nomination postcode so friends and family can support them and celebrate their role.

“There will be instances where people are not carrying the flame in their home town as the relay is not going everywhere.

“The slotting process is very complex – we are allocating torchbearers to a 300m slot on an 8,000 mile route. Making one change would effectively change all subsequent slots.

“We give each torchbearer the choice to accept their position based on this date and location.

“Through our partners and global sponsors a small percentage of runners will come from overseas. We’ve always been clear this would be the case – the Games are a global event.

“A small number of people from the UK have run overseas in every previous relay and ours is no different in this respect.

“They tend to be grouped together for logistical reasons and each will have a story of personal best or will have made a contribution to their community.”