The UK’s oldest full time firefighter carried the Olympic torch through Surrey today <17 July>, marking the 10 day countdown to the start of the 2012 Games.
Malcolm Styles, 63, celebrated a 34-year career with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service by running with the flame through Felbridge.
The long-serving firefighter is also a charity fundraiser. Following the death of his wife from cancer in 1997, he raised £40,000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
He said: “It was so exciting, my heart was thumping and everyone was really getting into the spirit of the Olympics. There were thousands of people, lots of them were dressed up waving flags. My family were among them I was so proud to have them there watching. It was humbling to be part of it.”
A keen sportsman, Mr Styles has represented Surrey Fire and Rescue Service in football, rugby and cricket and won a gold medal for table tennis at the World Firefighter Games in New Zealand.
Kay Hammond, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety said: “Malcolm has served at all ranks and is an outstanding member of Surrey Fire and Rescue Service. Firefighters truly are our local heroes. They risk their lives to keep us safe and it’s only right that they should be representing Surrey and Britain at such a high profile global event.”
The torch relay will return to Surrey on Friday 20 July, when it passes through Godstone, Bletchingley, Redhill, Reigate, Dorking, Westcott, Shere and Godalming, before reaching Guildford at about 6pm for a night of celebrations in Stoke Park. The torch will also be in the Hampton Court area on Friday 27 July.
Along with the torch relay, the county will host the men’s and women’s Olympic road cycling races on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 July, as well as the cycling time trials on Wednesday 1 August. Detailed maps of all the routes are available online at gosurrey.info.
Preparations have been going on for more than two years to ensure the Games in Surrey are a success. Inevitably events on an Olympic scale will cause disruption, which is why residents and businesses are being asked to plan ahead and be prepared.
Extensive road closures and parking restrictions will be in place around the cycle routes from the early hours of the morning on event days. The aim is to reopen most roads three hours after the last race vehicle passes. It’s expected to take longer in areas where there’ll be larger crowds such as around Dorking Town Centre, Hampton Court, Leatherhead Town Centre and Box Hill.
With hundreds of thousands of people expected to watch the Olympic events in Surrey, getting around will be difficult, which is why people are advised to stay close to their local areas and walk. Even after the events finish, the county’s roads and public transport will be very busy for some time as people make their way home.
Newsletters have been sent to residents and businesses within 100 metres of the cycle race and time trial routes to provide people with the information they need to prepare. All that information, plus everything else people in Surrey need to know to prepare for the Games, is available at gosurrey.info.
Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services and the 2012 Games, said: “The message is simple – be prepared and plan ahead to enjoy the Olympic Games in Surrey and to minimise the inevitable disruption that staging events of this size will bring.
“Journeys will take longer than usual, roads will be closed and public transport will be busier than usual. We’ve provided all the information people need to plan their journeys and we would urge them to use it.
“The Games have already brought huge economic, cultural and sporting benefits to Surrey and are a once on a lifetime opportunity to watch Olympic history unfold literally on our doorsteps. With some planning and foresight we can all enjoy it.”
Visit www.gosurrey.info for more information on the Olympic Games in Surrey.