The Torch will come!

This is my latest column published in the Ham & High Thursday 24th May.

On 25 July the Olympic Torch will go right past my constituency office which is in the Three Compasses Pub in Hornsey High Street. Well it’s not actually in the pub. It is upstairs.

I know it’s still a long way away but I am definitely getting Olympic and Paralympic fever.

I had hoped that Andrew Thornton would be one of the torch bearers. Andrew owns Budgens Crouch End (and Belsize Park) and has done so much for Crouch End and the local community – and that’s in an area blessed with many, many community minded souls.

I had nominated Andrew to be a torch bearer around this time last year when there was an open call for nominations. In fact, I was reminded of this last Sunday morning when I went to Priory Park for the annual YMCA Fun Run and Festival to give out the awards to the winners. The YMCA do a brilliant job every year and yet again Budgens sponsored the event.

The aforesaid Andrew Thornton, it would be true to say, is always a winner of at least one of the categories that I present a prize to at the fun run. In fact it was having presented him with his medal last year that made me think of nominating him in the first place to be a torch bearer.

Having made the application, there were a number of hoops to jump through and stages to get through – which he did right down to the final selection – but he (we) fell at the last hurdle. No idea what criteria were used but I guess there would have been a mega number of nominations.

So the torch is being born by many worthy others and will wend its way around the United Kingdom over the coming weeks. As I say – it will be coming down Hornsey High Street on its way to Alexandra Palace on the 25th and going through various highways and byways in Camden the following day.

But Andrew was not at the YMCA fun run last Sunday. No – he had decided to go one further. He was running in the pitch dark in USA at exactly the same time as the race was being run here in Priory Park. That shows commitment!

This year the Event was one of a number of Community Games across the country, inspired by London 2012 bringing the spirit of the Games into the community. The YMCA event was chosen because it reflects the values of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in being inclusive, cross-generational and inspirational to the local community.

As ever it was a great event with lots of adults and children taking part – and Michelle Collins running around with an Olympic Torch (a replica) to get us all into the Olympic spirit. The Olympic spirit was further enhanced by the prize winners this year getting an ‘Olympic’ medal which I presented by putting it over their heads to hang around their necks. I did catch several winners’ ears. Have to say I had never before considered the art of putting a medal over someone’s head – but it is clearly not as simple as it looks.

This is one of the largest community events in North London with literally thousands of adults and children taking part in the activities and over 150 volunteers making sure it happens well and safely – and all for charity.

So a huge salute to the YMCA, Budgens and all those who worked so hard to make this year’s event so successful.