02 July 2012 You are here:

Torch Relay route: Meet some of The Salvation Army's torchbearers

As Olympic fever spreads across the nation, meet the Salvationists who are among 8,000 people selected to carry the famous Olympic Flame because of the inspirational work they have done for their community. Read their nomination stories below.

July torchbearers

6 July: John Willson, 69. Carrying the flame through Hadleigh, Essex

Salvation Army member John Wilson, of Hadleigh, Essex, will be carrying the Olympic Torch through Hatfield Peverel on 6 July. He was nominated for his contribution in bringing archery to thousands of young people across the UK.

As a coach of Archery GB, John is currently supporting Team GB’s archery coaches in their preparations for London 2012.  As well as carrying out hours of voluntary work for Rayleigh Town Archery Club and Essex Sport, John has been instrumental in bringing archery to young people who might never have had an opportunity to engage with this sport. He has encouraged the development of archery within PE GCSE and the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and works with his coaches to deliver archery to people with disabilities.

13 July: Val Mylechreest, 49. Carrying the flame through Corfe Castle, Dorset

A Major at the Boscombe Salvation Army, Val and her husband Peter have been based in Bournemouth since 2005 and have worked hard to keep the ‘church in the community.’ She has encouraged various programmes for all age groups including art classes and lunch clubs. Major Mylechreest’s new BH1 community project is thriving and her parents and toddler group (complete with new outdoor play area) has a waiting list.

Talking about her nomination, Major Mylechreest says: “I co-pastor a local church working with the most vulnerable and needy in the Bournemouth area. I live out my passion by co-presenting a local community breakfast show and encouraging others to not only dream the dream, but live it.”

16 July: Ian Richards, 64. Carrying the flame through Midhurst, West Sussex

A former Olympian, Ian Richards has attended The Salvation Army in Worthing since 1997 and is part of the More Than Gold Paralympic board. At 64, Ian is a fire-eater and can walk on broken glass.  At 32, he finished 11th in the 50km walk in Moscow in 1980. Talking about being able to carry the torch, he says: “At one point, I felt I had everything – wife, children, a successful career, doing work with scouts, Duke of Edinburgh Award and youth clubs. When my father-in-law died suddenly, my wife wanted to go to church so we went to Maidenhead Salvation Army.

“When my wife died from a brain haemorrhage in 1984, I realised that God put me at the heart of a place I could get care and support. The members helped me cope and get back on my feet.”

Ian now gives talks in schools, organises and coaches at sports camps around the UK for The Salvation Army.

June torchbearers

27 June: Zoe Homes, 31. Carried the flame through Lincoln, Lincolnshire

Despite motorcycling from Land's End to John O'Groats and skydiving for charity, Zoe Homes says that carrying the torch was the most exciting this she has been involved in. The Salvation Army member, who plays the trombone, claims she had no idea that she had been nominated to carry the torch until she received the letter. She was elected because of her positive attitude to life and fundraising.

Zoe said: "All I want is to make the most of life. And if I can inspire others to do the same then that is just fab - it spurs me on to do more and be more. I believe life is all about the journey and we have to do our bit to make ours and others a happy one. In future, I simply want to continue to use my passion for mad activities (and more sensible ones) to inspire others - and raise money for charity in the process."

Read more about Zoe's nomination  here

26 June: Ryan Wileman, 29. Carried the flame through Thrybergh, South Yorkshire

Sports-mad Ryan leads The Salvation Army's youth work across Yorkshire. He was selected to bear the torch because of his voluntary work running youth and sports events in Sheffield for nearly four years for the church and charity.

He also visited the Ukraine in 2004 and 2006 as part of a Salvation Army mission team which regularly visits impoverished areas of the former Eastern Bloc to carry out remedial building work and support youth activities such as holiday clubs and sports-based initiatives. A keen footballer, cricketer and rugby player, Sheffield Wednesday fan Ryan completed the London Marathon in 2007. He is convinced of the potential for sport to be used as a tool for community engagement.  

May torchbearers

30 May:  Shaun Evans, 21. Carried the flame through Wrexham, North Wales

A young member of The Salvation Army in Coedpoeth, Shaun studies Computer Games Development at Glyndwr University. During his spare time, he runs C.A.F.E. ‘Computers Are Fun for Everybody’. He also won the Wrexham Maelor club's first ambassador three years ago and is now a Lion. He wowed the Judges and each of the audiences he addressed with the extent and depth of his several volunteering projects. Shaun's work is outstanding by any measure, and the more striking as he suffers from cerebral palsy which restricts his balance and his speech.

He is also responsible for the building the Lions Website and has voyaged with Jubilee Sailing Trust. Shaun also helps Coedpoeth Care group who support mentally and physically disabled people on the weekend. Shaun also fits time in to produce the Coedpoeth Community newsletter ‘Four Seasons.’ His torchbearer nominator said: “Shaun always smiles and I would like for him to have the opportunity to show the young people of Wrexham that you can achieve anything you set out regardless of your disability, background or age. Shaun is a very committed young person who has lots of enthusiasm; I think Shaun would be honoured to be a part of the torch Relay and an inspiration to all young people.

25 May: David Chaffey, 29. Carried the flame through Blaenavon, Torfaen, Wales Despite losing his sight when he was seven and recently undergoing a heart transplant, Cwm church member David has been involved in many fund raising for organisations such as Guide Dogs for the Blind, Victim Support groups and St John Ambulance.

After the transplant, David had to learn how to walk again because his muscles became so weak; however he continues to work tirelessly for others less fortunate than himself. David’s torchbearer nominator said: “I have only known David for a few months during the time he has been attending cardiac rehabilitation sessions. His determination, attitude and good sense of humour have been a shining example to us all. With the help of a wonderful supporting family, he is achieving his goals and is beginning to live a full and active life again. He is an extremely deserving person and should be given the chance to carry the Olympic torch.”

23 May: David Ramsay, 54. Carried the flame through Nailsea, Somerset

David Ramsay, from The Salvation Army's Winton church in Dorset, carried the Olympic Torch through Nailsea in Somerset on 23 May. Nominated for his work setting up the 'Vision of Hope' mission in the Ukraine in 1994, David has worked tirelessly on improvement projects in the country for the last 18 years.  Every two years, David leads a group of 40 volunteers who visit the Ukraine to carry out mission trips. During these visits, David and the team work in poverty-stricken regions of Ukraine to complete a host of projects, including renovating decayed buildings such as disabled children's orphanages and TB sanatoriums, and setting up clubs for under-privileged children. David is very committed to his work in the Ukraine and even risked missing his child's birth to fulfil his commitments in the country.

David, who is deputy bandmaster at Winton Salvation Army, ran two legs of the relay, travelling through Nailsea in Somerset. His family and many thousands of spectators lined the route to support him. David said: "It was so much bigger than I expected - it was fantastic.”