A Surrey teenager who overcame kidney and major spinal surgery has fulfilled her dream of carrying the Olympic flame on the first day of the torch relay (19 May).
After running with the torch in Newquay, Cornwall, 15-year-old Hattie Devereux from Fetcham, Surrey, said it was the most amazing day of her life.
Miss Devereux said: “Thousands of people were cheering me on. It was a real once-in-a-lifetime experience. All my friends and family were screaming and they were all dressed in pink T-shirts so I could see them running alongside me, all the way. I still can’t believe it.”
Hattie was keen to show she is fit and healthy after having two major operations. She had surgery to remove an abnormal kidney when she was six and in 2010 she had spinal surgery which involved having two metal rods inserted into her back.
Hattie was nominated to be a torchbearer by her grandmother, 76-year-old Anne Roberts from Pyford, Surrey, who said Hattie is always thinking of others.
After Hattie’s best friend was diagnosed with cancer, she supported her through her treatment and raised money for Cancer Research UK by taking part in the Relay for Life.
Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services and the 2012 Games, said: “Hattie is an inspiration to us all. She has been through so much for someone so young. I’m delighted she has been able to write her own piece of Olympic history. It’s a moment that will stay with her for the rest of her life.”
A 76-year-old former helicopter rescue winchman from Woking also carried the torch on the first day of the relay.
Eric Smith, who won a George Medal for bravery in 1962 for his part in rescuing fishermen stranded on the wreck of the Jeanne Gougy at Land’s End, was nominated by one of his sons. Fittingly, he carried the torch near where the famous rescue took place 50 years ago.
The torch will travel 8,000 miles and pass through more than 1,000 towns, cities and villages.
Surrey will get its turn in July. It will pass through Egham and Felbridge on 10 and 17 July respectively. It will then return to the county on 20 July and go through Godstone, Bletchingley, Redhill, Reigate, Dorking, Westcott, Shere and Godalming before reaching Guildford at about 6pm for a night of celebrations in Stoke Park.
For more information, journalists can contact Surrey County Council media officer Nicole Herlihy on 020 8541 8039 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit www.gosurrey.info for more information about Surrey’s involvement in the 2012 Games.