Iris Bingham carries the Paralympic Torch

Post date: Sep 13, 2012 7:33:57 PM

This is Iris's account of her experience of carrying the Paralympic Torch on 29th August 2012.

Iris was chosen by Sainsbury's for having "Pushed the boundaries of what is achievable and helped others to accomplish whatever they put their minds to"

Now over to Iris:

I was so proud and privileged to carry the Paralympic Torch and delighted that my 2 sons and 4 grandchildren and other family members managed to get to Barnet to cheer me on.

Sainsburys arranged our transport on Tuesday 28th August, a hotel in Kensington and a celebration dinner that evening for their 145 Torchbearers, including their chaperones. At the dinner we were seated with the 4 other Team members, one of whom I have known for 25 years. She has often come to the Rugby Sports Day for the Disabled and I have competed against her in table tennis at Stoke Mandeville.

On Wednesday the morning began with getting up at 1.45 AM, then a Sainsburys photo call in the hotel at 3 AM. We discovered that the Torch was running 2 hours late so the promotional staff gave us a boxed breakfast. We eventually arrived at the Sainsburys in Barnet (our meeting place), around 5.45 AM.

Our passports were checked and we were given croissants and drinks, including my 12 relatives. After a briefing with the LOCOG team there was time for photos with the Mayor of Barnet and other dignitaries, including some with the first Olympic Torch – from 1948.

Fixings were put on my wheelchair as I could not hold the beautiful mirror finished Torch and, after another briefing, it was time to set off for Kingsbury Road. Our Team of 5 was kept in the London 2012 minibus with a member of LOCOG until 15mins before the previous team would arrive.

As we left the bus there were so many cameras at the ready – and none of them broke! Instead of carrying the Torch in the dark at 5.44 AM, the sun was now shining. Another short briefing and the gas in the Torches checked then we were ready to take our places. I was the first of the 5 to have the lighted Torch.

My torch was lit (the kiss) from the previous Torchbearer Team and we were off. I was aware of all the cheers and the continual calls of ‘come on Granny, come on Mad Granny’. It was amazing and I felt like royalty and so, so honoured. Our team carried our Torches for 0.58 mile, probably 200 yards each. All too soon my turn came to an end. The lighted Torch was swapped with the next Torchbearer when a horn sounded. We were well guarded by police officers.

When we finished our relay all the tops of the Torches were placed together, then the Flame was put in a Davy lamp before it was taken by road to the next venue. The 1948 Torch, which was privately owned, was lit and we could hold it. Our 9.30AM return to the hotel with our Torch, which was kindly bought by Sainsburys, was just in time for breakfast.The day was an amazing experience and one I shall never forget. It was great to be part of such a historical event. I have been so touched by youngsters in Rugby coming up and saying that I have been an inspiration to them.

Sainsburys in Rugby invited me to sit in their foyer to inspire people to take up sport and for shoppers to have their photo taken with the Torch.I would like to thank everyone who made this dream come true and to the Mayor of Rugby, Councillor Kathryn Lawrence, for inviting me to her parlour.